2015 Innovating Learning Grants
The Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation looks forward to reviewing your Grant Proposal! Grant application deadline is October 31, 2015.
6th Annual Golf Tournament Monday, October 12, 2015
Welcome to the 6th Annual Golf Tournament to benefit the Gwinnett County Public Schools Community-Based Mentoring Program
Shop at AmazonSmile and Amazon will make a donation to GCPS Foundation for scholarships!

Duluth Second-Grader Wins $5,529 Toward College

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Mitch Seabaugh, executive director of the Path2College 529 Plan, left, poses for a picture with Joshua Cornett, a second-grader at Chattahoochee Elementary School in Duluth on Tuesday. Cornett was awarded $5,529 after he was chosen as a winner of a summer reading program sweepstakes. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

DULUTH — Joshua Cornett had to revise his first reaction to a large check he recently received.

It wasn’t awesome. It was totally awesome.

That’s how the Chattahoochee Elementary School second-grader, 7, reacted to the news that he received $5,529 toward college savings because he participated in a summer reading program. Joshua was one of five winners from across the state who participated in the program, “Every Hero Has a Story Sweepstakes” from the Path2College 529 Plan. The Duluth Library also received $1,529.

His mother, Amy, didn’t figure they’d win, but saw a bookmark about the contest, and signed up anyway.

For Joshua, reading all depends on the book.

“Sometimes fun, sometimes it’s not fun,” he said.

His favorite book came from the series “Ready, Freddy! No. 9: Shark Tooth Tale,” which follows the story of a first-grade shark expert who gets into mischief, but eventually tries to earn enough money to buy a fossilized shark tooth.

The Cornetts visited the library about every other week during the summer. Joshua’s parents, Amy and Bryan, said they had started a college fund for him and his younger sister, but this deposit would certainly help.

The family learned about the winnings from an email, which Bryan forwarded to his wife, and asked, “Is this legit,” he said.

“Did we really enter this? Is this something we actually did,” he said.

A phone call later also confirmed the news.

“It’s a great boost to his savings account,” Amy said. “We were thrilled to have a little extra money for that. Of course by the time he goes to college, it may cover a couple of books. It’ll be helpful.”


Joshua Cornett, a second-grader at Chattahoochee Elementary School in Duluth on Tuesday, poses for pictures with family, friends, school and library officials. Cornett was awarded $5,529 after he was chosen as a winner of a summer reading program sweepstakes. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

Joshua was presented the oversized check at his school on Tuesday as he posed for pictures with his classmates who were on hand for the event.

It’s the sixth year the Path2College 529 Plan and the Georgia Public Library have partnered on the program to encourage children to read throughout the summer.

Liz Forester, deputy director of the Gwinnett County Public Library, said 34,400 children across Gwinnett participated in summer reading, which was a 24 percent increase from last year, and narrowly missed the all-time high in 2010, which was 35,300.

Forester said there’s a nationwide emphasis to reading, including a push from pediatricians who encourage it. A program that libraries participate in across Georgia encourages kids to read 1,000 books before kindergarten.


Georgia United Credit Union announces Peachtree Ridge ES as a Runner-Up Grant Winner!

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Georgia United Credit Union announces Peachtree Ridge ES as a Runner-Up Grant Winner

Duluth, GA (July 29, 2015) Woodward Elementary won the equivalent of a school improvement sweepstakes this summer when they received the top prize in Georgia United Credit Union 2015 School Crashers program. Georgia United coordinated 300+ community volunteers and corporate donors to work alongside the DeKalb County School System to complete a long list of school improvement projects for the Title 1 School located at 3034 Curtis Drive in Atlanta.

“Before” and “After” photos are available at www.georgiaunitedcu.org and Woodward Elementary parents and students will see the improvements when school starts on August 10. Woodward was chosen from among hundreds of nominations from schools across the state.

Five additional runner-up schools were announced today to receive School Crashers mini-makeover grants. Congratulations to Peachtree Ridge Elementary School who will work with Georgia United this fall to complete their requested improvement projects!

Peachtree Elementary, Norcross (Gwinnett County) – Media Center makeover: Thanks to the creative and heartfelt request of Media Specialist Mary Tyner, this diverse Title 1 School’s 44 year old media center will receive new furniture, carpeting and a more collaborate learning environment for their 1,790 students.

Middle school Mentoring Camp Aims to Develop Leadership

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Dan Williams of the nonprofit SportsServe discusses a team-building activity for eighth-grade and ninth-grade students on Tuesday during a Summer Leadership Camp at Moore Middle School put on by Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Community-Based Mentoring Program. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

LAWRENCEVILLE — Paul Parker has served as a mentor for middle school students in Gwinnett for five years. Along the way, each time he takes in an event he said gets more out of it than the kids.

On Tuesday at Moore Middle School, there was Parker in the middle of a room of fifth- and sixth-graders brainstorming with them how to take an music artist and find a producer to make and promote a song that becomes a hit.

“Their leadership is stronger than what we give them credit for,” Parker said. “They have a great influence on one another and we have to just learn to help them channel that into a positive aspect.”

That was just one element of a week-long camp running this week put on by the Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Community-Based Mentoring Program. It’s called the Summer Leadership Camp and 55 male students signed up to attend. It’s designed to offer hands-on and engaging activities that involve leadership skills, financial literacy, civic engagement, law enforcement, education, math, language arts enrichment, music and media entertainment and entrepreneurship.

The camp will end on Friday with a visit to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

“We think this is a need to keep the kids engaged over the summer,” said James Rayford, director of academic support with the district, who said an informal survey found the camp as a popular idea among parents. He hopes to grow it next year to 75 students, or more. “We felt this a great opportunity to expose them to some things that they may not have seen during the school year.”


Eighth-grader Peter Lauderdale works on making business cards and greeting cards on Tuesday during a Summer Leadership Camp at Moore Middle School put on by Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Community-Based Mentoring Program. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

The overall goal of the mentoring program is to help at-risk students with social and academic development with men who serve as mentors. Part of its mission is to help students make decisions that will positively impact their lives and prepare them for high school.

The camp sessions are taught by GCPS employees and representatives from business and community organizations such as Primerica, the Wisdom to Believe Foundation, Wells Fargo, Atlanta Institute for Music and Media, e3 Creative and Sports Serve. The students will also participate in a golf clinic, a basketball clinic and team building skills.

Eighth-grader Peter Lauderdale said he enjoys it because his friends are there, and it’s bigger and offers more field trips than other summer camps. He’s been a member of the mentoring program for three years.

“It’s a great way to get interactive and have fun and be with people,” he said.

Parker said he hopes to learn what excites the students, and find out what their pains and struggles are. And he wants them to develop camraderie and friendship. It’s a different format from the school year, but also from other summer camps.

“The parents are feeling like the students are getting some mentoring in a whole day or whole week context when it’s usually just a few hours a day or a week,” Parker said. “The kids are getting some stability for a longer period of time. It’s also giving the kids some structure for a week, and that’s what they need, structure and discipline.”


Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks shares on building principal pipeline – VIDEO

Friday, July 10th, 2015


Click here article and video.

J. Alvin Wilbanks was one of six school district superintendents from across the country who recently recorded instructional videos offering advice about how to develop a principal pipeline.

The Wallace Foundation released the videos, including one from the CEO/Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, who outlined how the district revamped its titles and responsibilities for those who supervise school principals.

Wilbanks said GCPS has tailored the supervisors to work with principals at the same level — elementary, middle or high and utilize resources and expertise from the district office.

“You’re there to talk about how well that school is doing educating those students in that school,” Wilbanks said in the video. “How can we help.”

The two-minute videos of each superintendent highlight new practices to develop leaders and manage career paths more intentionally, including crafting clear standards for principals, developing strong partnerships with local university preparation programs, grooming assistant principals, revamping hiring processes and stepping up support for new principals.

These strategies were outlined in report called “Building a Stronger Principalship: Districts Taking Charge of the Principal Pipeline,” which was released in January and is the third in a six-part series in a multi-year evaluation of The Wallace Foundation’s $75 million Principal Pipeline Initiative.

Along with Wilbanks, the other superintendents who participated were Ann Clark of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Carmen Fariña of New York City Schools, Jeff Eakins of Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools and Kevin Maxwell of Prince George’s County (Md.) Public Schools.

The interviews were captured on video at a recent Wallace convening of the districts participating in the pipeline initiative.

The Wallace Foundation has worked on these areas since 2011 when an initiative was started because district officials knew they needed to replace about 15 percent of their principals each year. However, those district leaders didn’t feel that they had enough qualified candidates.

GCPS routinely replaces multiple principals at a given School Board meeting, and 109 of the school district’s principals have less than 11 years experience as a principal.

Only three GCPS principals this year have 16 or more years of experience, while 52 have between six and 15 years and 76 have less than six years.

In one six-minute video, the superintendents offered advice to other districts who are just embarking on building a principal pipeline.

“It’s not a one-year effort. It’s not a two-year effort. This is a 10, 12, 15-year effort to take someone from where they wish to be a school leader to where they truly are a very effective leader of an organization as large and complex, as challenging, as rewarding as a school,” said Tom Boasberg, superintendent of Denver Public Schools.

Click here article and video.


As construction ends, staff readies to open new Discovery High School

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Discovery-HSLAWRENCEVILLE — The days of paper signs, stacks of pallets and dust-filled hallways at the new Discovery High School are almost over.

Only about a week of construction remains at the newest Gwinnett high school on Old Norcross Road in Lawrenceville which is projected to welcome a projected 1,786 students on the first day of school, Aug. 10. Principal John Campbell has hired about 150 staff members, but that number could change depending on the number of students who actually show up in the first weeks of the school year.

“The excitement is building,” Campbell said. “Projects and plans I’ve heard about are starting to happen.”

Some students have declared to attend the school, and some have changed their minds, including students who first chose their previous school, then stopped by the new building and signed up for Discovery. So on paper, Campbell has about 1,900 students on the roll. If that many show up, that means more staff members to hire, or displace from other schools, and add or rearrange more furniture, textbooks and computers.

“That would be a very difficult thing to juggle, but the school system’s done it before and the troops will rally,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing that I’ll have to be in constant contact with the planning department, the human resources department to make sure that we’re staffed appropriately.”

Students previously zoned for Berkmar, Central Gwinnett and Meadowcreek high schools will now attend Discovery. Developing school pride is already evident around the halls of the school, especially among cheerleaders, who practiced in the front part of the school on Wednesday with several wearing bright green hair accessories to represent the school’s colors.

Once students arrive, Campbell said he’s planned an advisement period every day for 30 minutes to start the school year for students and teachers to go through “Discovery 101,” which will be orientating everyone on what the school offers and where things and staff are located in the building.

“I don’t have sophomores, juniors and seniors to show the freshmen where to go,” Campbell said.Discovery_TitansKanijah Stanley, a rising sophomore who transferred from Meadowcreek, said the first days of the school year could be a “ruckus.”

“Nobody will know where their class is at, they won’t know if it’s down there, over there, so they will ask everybody for help,” Stanley said. “I think everybody will be pretty late to their classes the first time.”

While new as a school, the building itself covers 650,000 square feet and is a former warehouse once occupied by Bridgestone Tire, but was not in operation when the district purchased the property in 2005 for $6.7 million. Construction cost to make the new school was $63.5 million.

Staff moved into the school about the middle of June to begin preparations after Campbell first worked in the fieldhouse to start the calendar year. While this is the first high school he’s opened, it’s the third Gwinnett school Campbell has opened as principal.

Campbell, the longest-tenured principal in Gwinnett, came from Osborne Middle, which he opened in 2004.

Campbell ’s Gwinnett career started in 1982 as a counselor at Parkview High, and throughout the 1980s, he was an assistant principal at Parkview and Norcross High, and later a principal at South Gwinnett High and Trickum Middle.

In 1991, he moved to the district office as the director of student support services and staff development. Campbell returned to a local school in 1996 when he became the principal of McConnell Middle. Outside of Gwinnett, Campbell also worked in DeKalb County Schools and in Ohio.

Before he was named principal of Discovery late last year, Campbell was been active in the district’s Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Team, which helped develop those programs at Discovery.

Aware of everyone on staff being new, Campbell has scheduled a special orientation period for July 23-24 to establish for his staff a foundation for instructional strategies he’s used throughout his career. That will lead into a community open house in the gym from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on July 26.

The new high school has a list of entrepreneurial and personal finance programs and curriculum not seen in Gwinnett, and only sparingly offered in doses across the state. It will also host students from across the county to learn about personal finance and business principles.

The school is the district’s 19th cluster high school and will feature an entrepreneurship center, two Junior Achievement of Georgia programs for middle school students called JA BizTown and JA Finance Park.

It will also be home to an academy model of education that’s also available in six other Gwinnett schools, which offers students pathways for work-based experience, college credit or professional certification geared toward postsecondary education and a career.


Norcross grad to meet Michelle Obama at White House

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Sarah ThomasSarah Thomas, who graduated from Norcross High School earlier this year, was recently selected to meet Michelle Obama at an event later this month.

Thomas, who plans to attend Clemson University this fall, was selected by the Georgia School Counselor Association to represent the organization at the First Lady’s Beating the Odds Summit at the White House on July 23. Thomas is one of two students in Georgia and one of 150 nationwide invited to the celebratory event.

Obama’s Reach Higher initiative is hosting the event, which is designed to inspire students in America to graduate from high school and continue their education through a professional training program, community college, a four-year college or university.

Students at the Beating The Odds Summit will be introduced to some basic tools needed to succeed while they purse their secondary education and or professional training. They also will be encouraged to network among their peers who have diverse backgrounds.


Grayson Senior Named U.S. Presidential Scholar

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Yash ShirsathA Grayson High senior was recently recognized as the only public school student in Georgia to be selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

Yash Shirsath is one of 141 students from across the country to receive the honor, which honors some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors.

Shirsath, Grayson’s salutatorian, will attend the University of Pennsylvania where he plans to major in computer engineering, management of entrepreneurship and innovation. Shirsath has also been awarded a National Merit Scholarship.

As part of receiving the award, Shirsath noted his most influential teacher as Mary Stimmel of Grayson High.

Of the three million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 4,300 candidates qualified for the 2015 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts competition.

The scholars will be honored for their accomplishments in Washington on June 21-23.

Six Gwinnett Students Chosen as National Merit Scholars

Monday, May 11th, 2015

From L-R: Ryan C. Chen of Brookwood, who listed academia as a probable career field, Laboni Hoque of Brookwood, who plans to enter the field of medicine, Dain Song of Lanier, who also seeks to pursue a career in medicine and Megan J. Paik and Ziyu Ding, each from North Gwinnett, who plan seek careers in science/research and neuroscience, respectively and Katherine E. Moraes (not pictured) of Collins Hill, who has a probable career field of neuroscience.

They plan to study medicine, neuroscience and enter the fields of academia, science and research. Thanks to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, they’ll do it with a $2,500 scholarship.

Six Gwinnett students were recently named National Merit Scholars that were judged by the organization to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in college.

The students are Ryan C. Chen of Brookwood, who listed academia as a probable career field, Laboni Hoque of Brookwood, who plans to enter the field of medicine, Katherine E. Moraes of Collins Hill, who has a probable career field of neuroscience, Dain Song of Lanier, who also seeks to pursue a career in medicine and Megan J. Paik and Ziyu Ding, each from North Gwinnett, who plan seek careers in science/research and neuroscience, respectively.

Laboni Hoque of Brookwood

The students were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors from a pool of more than 15,000 finalists. The committee reviewed each student’s academic record including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions/leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the student; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

The competition began when more than 1.4 million students, who at the time were high school juniors, took the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as the initial screening for program entrants. The highest scoring participants in each state were then selected as semifinalists.


Brookwood Grad Amy Robach to Speak to 5,000 UGA Graduates

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Brookwood High graduate Amy Robach is scheduled to speak to more than 5,000 University of Georgia graduates in Athens on Saturday at the spring commencement ceremony. (Special Photo)

Brookwood High graduate Amy Robach is scheduled to speak to more than 5,000 University of Georgia graduates in Athens on Friday at the spring commencement ceremony.

Robach, the news anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” will speak to about 4,488 undergraduates and 1,178 graduate students, along with 1,022 summer candidates invited to walk. The ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Sanford Stadium.

A 1995 alumna of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Robach originally joined the network as a correspondent based in New York, and has since traveled nationally and internationally to cover major news events.

Before living in the Snellville area, Robach lived in Lansing, Mich. and St. Louis. She graduated from UGA with honors and a degree in broadcast journalism.

An estimated 189 doctoral candidates and 990 master’s and specialist degree students will be eligible to walk in the graduate ceremony at 10 a.m. in Stegeman Coliseum. University Professor Emeritus Gary Bertsch, who is now chairman of the international advisory group TradeSecure LLC, will address the graduates and guests.

During the undergraduate ceremony, 15 students will be recognized as First Honor Graduates for maintaining a 4.0 cumulative grade point average in all work attempted at UGA as well as all college-level transfer work attempted prior to or following enrollment at the university.

Student Commencement speaker Hayes Patrick, of Baton Rouge, La., is graduating with bachelors’ degrees in biology and psychology, with a focus on pre-medicine, from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. His accomplishments include serving as executive director of UGA HEROs; participating in the UGA Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, Kappa Alpha Order and a Maymester abroad in Cortona, Italy; being named to Phi Beta Kappa and the Blue Key Honor Society; and interning at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Because the ceremonies fall on a Friday, a routine UGA workday, parking patterns on south campus near the coliseum will be adjusted. The south campus parking deck (zone S-11) and Carlton Street parking deck (zone S-15) will be open at no charge for visitors and guests. The Hoke Smith lot (S-12) will be reserved for handicapped guests with proper handicapped placards. The McPhaul Center lot (S-10) will be reserved for members of the commencement platform party.

Both ceremonies will be streamed live at http://www.ctl.uga.edu/ctlcable and broadcast live on Channel 15 of the University Cable System and Channel 181 of the Charter Cable System. No backpacks, bags larger than 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches or unopened packages will be allowed at either venue.

General seating tickets are not required for either event.

Motorists are asked to use caution when driving on Broad Street near the Arch as graduating students gather to take photographs. The university also will have a temporary platform in place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday to allow students with disabilities to pass through.


GCPS Mentoring Program for Black Youths Celebrates Success

Thursday, May 7th, 2015
South Gwinnett student Sadrac Desert speaks to a crowd on Wednesday night at the end-of-the-year celebration dinner for the Community-Based Mentoring Program at the Gwinnett County Public Schools district cafeteria in Suwanee. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

South Gwinnett student Sadrac Desert speaks to a crowd on Wednesday night at the end-of-the-year celebration dinner for the Community-Based Mentoring Program at the Gwinnett County Public Schools district cafeteria in Suwanee. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

SUWANEE — They saluted the mentees who they vow will not be a statistic, who will not show up on the nightly news, and who could one day be a school principal.

The statistics splashed on a screen during a banquet Wednesday night at an end-of-the-year celebration of the Community-Based Mentoring Program were positive, and trumpeted academic success.

Thirty-six percent were involved in zero incidents and another 24 percent were involved in one to three incidents last school year. The program, which serves African-American boys, reported that 77 percent of the students involved in the program passed all four core academic subjects.

The program is designed to build relationships that help make responsible decisions and curb risky behaviors like skipping school or using drugs.

James Rayford, director of the department of academic support at Gwinnett County Public Schools, said the program, in its seventh year, which started with 37 students and 53 mentors, now counts 425 students and 170 mentors. Figures from last year said 28 percent of students in the program had perfect attendance, and 44 percent had less than three absences.

The message is clear, Rayford said.

“Hey, you can be successful in school despite of what you’re going through,” he said.

The program also announced two $500 college scholarships, including the first recipient, Dumbi Ogwu of Berkmar, who has a 3.2 grade-point-average and has been accepted to Georgia State University. The other recipient has not been announced yet.

Another proud student, Sadrac Desert of South Gwinnett High, said he was unsure of the program when he first heard about it — other than free food and field trips. But things changed when he gave Rayford a firm handshake, and later when he earned the best grades of his life as a high school sophomore.

He also praised his mentor, Darren Providence.

“When I had no father to lean to, or even when I was driving my mom crazy, or when my grades were terrible, he was someone I could turn to,” Desert said.

As for the program, Desert said it made a difference in his life and, “It changed me to be a better man for my momma and for myself.”

The dinner, which filled the cafeteria inside the district office with families, administrators and district leaders, included comments from CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks and Bishop William L. Sheals, Pastor of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Norcross.

Sheals said that the mentors selected the mentees because they sensed that their mentees had potential, and therefore has a reason to give them hope.

“Young men, mentees,” Sheals said, “you must receive this hope that has been poured into you by your mentors and be grateful for it, but do something with it, which means you must have drive.”