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JA Academy helps Norcross students mix high school, career

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Norcross High School freshman Cristian Sanchez works on a case studey in a Junior Achievement Academy classroom. The program, which began this school year, mixes everyday career challenges in the form of case studies, with traditional high school education principles. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

Mixing traditional social studies with customer experience concepts normally found in business classes is one way freshmen at Norcross High School are experiencing what district officials call a “school within a school.”

Brian Ariza, a freshman, recently explained how in one social studies class, students learned about famous travelers who were greeted as kings when they arrived at different countries.

“That’s how you have to make sure that your customers are like kings and treat them well,” Ariza said. “It’s something that you can apply in every class.”

That’s the case for about 145 ninth-graders at Norcross who are enrolled in the Junior Achievement Academy, which mixes traditional education with exposure to several career paths, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. They meet monthly with employees from businesses to develop and work through case studies that are everyday experiences for those adults.

“Norcross High School students have a lot of options and this is just one more option at that school but it doesn’t take away from any of the others,” said Steve Flynt, Gwinnett County Public Schools’ associate superintendent for school improvement and operations.

Norcross Principal Will Bishop said one example is the company WestRock, which recently was involved in a merger that resulted in a $14 billion company with 250 facilities in about 30 countries. Bishop said the company’s director of communications was involved, and worked with students as they finalized their case study presentation.

Bishop said that particular task involved how all those different employees from two companies in 19 different languags communicate effectively with each other, and how to make sure they have a common culture throughout the company, bringing cultures from two different companies. Continue reading

Gov. Deal awards innovation grant to Coleman Middle

Monday, November 21st, 2016

coleman-msColeman Middle School has been open for just three months, but Friday it received a grant from the governor’s office.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday announced the first winner of the new Innovation Fund Tiny Grant program, a competitive grant opportunity for traditional public schools, charter schools and school districts. Coleman Middle School in Duluth will receive funding to implement a project in which students will use drones to explore the waste inventory of the Chattahoochee River.

 “The Innovation Fund Tiny Grant unites education leaders and students in order to provide Georgia’s students with the ability to engage in today’s most innovative academic areas,” Deal said in a press release. “Providing Georgia’s students with opportunities for growth and success is essential to ensuring our children reach new heights in educational achievement.

Programs and projects funded by Tiny Grants must align with one of three of the following priority areas: applied learning with a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM education, development and replication of blended learning school models, and birth-to-age-eight language and literacy development.

 The grants will provide eligible organizations between $1,000 and $10,000 to implement small-scale pilot programs that directly impact students.

Working alongside the National Park Service and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, students at Coleman will study various aspects of the river including invasive species, temperature, pH balance and hazardous materials.

Gwinnett Daily Post link.

1st annual Infinite Energy STEAM Education Grants for local schools.

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Infinite Energy, in partnership with the GCPS Foundation, announces the 1st annual Infinite Energy STEAM Education Grants for local schools.

Apply for an Infinite Energy STEAM Education Grants supporting innovation and creativity in the classrooms of Gwinnett County Public Schools. A minimum of $40,000 is available to be disbursed to one or more schools in the area of science, technology, engineering, the arts, or mathematics. Grants will be awarded based on merit. Grants may be requested for any amount up to $40,000. Click here for application.

Application Deadline: December 15, 2016
Winners will be announced in January 2017.

To earn bonus points on grant application.
To learn more about the Infinite Energy GCPS new customer discount program:
If already an Infinite Energy customer:

Peachtree Ridge robotics gears up to host VEX tourney

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Kenny Oen, a Peachtree Ridge High School junior, works during a robotics club meeting on Tuesday in preparation for a VEX tournament at the school. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

Halston Edwards is part of a wave of students who joined the Peachtree Ridge High School robotics club this year.

A freshman, Edwards said robotics appealed to him because of its creativity and the ability to grow friendships. He was introduced to robotics at Hull Middle School, and after being involved in this club, he feels very confident it could help his future.

“I’ll be able to do this in college,” said Edwards, who plans to become an engineer one day.

 A perennial power in the world of robotics, Peachtree Ridge this year has seen an influx of 30 rookie members, largely freshmen, when the club usually brings in 10 new people per year. And on Saturday, they’re expected to participate in their biggest robotics event to date.

“They came in really excited and passionate to learn,” said club president Mackenzie Glaser, a senior. “So I think the teams have built really cool robots and they’re pulling in a big nucleus of people. … We have a bunch of new kids who have all been really eager to learn.”

About 50 teams from across the state, including seven from Peachtree Ridge, will meet on Saturday in a day-long competition called Robots at the Ridge. It is open to the public.

The format is a VEX Robotics competition where teams must design and build a VEX robot that can compete at a competition and accomplish certain objectives. VEX is often a conduit to teach students the fundamentals of robot design, build and programming.

Robots are confined to a box where they compete against an opponent for about two minutes. Continue reading


State school counselors honor Radloff Middle principal

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Sarah Skinner

Sarah Skinner can now add more hardware to her collection, thanks to the state’s school counselor association.

The Radloff Middle School principal was recently named this year’s Georgia School Counselor Association Administrator of the Year. That award came after she received a similar honor in February from Gwinnett County Public Schools.

The GSCA selects the winner who exhibited exemplary support of school counseling services, promoted school counseling services, and implemented new school counseling services while also improving existing school counseling services.

 When the award was announced, Skinner credited her staff to show how committed it is to serve “the whole child.”

“Honestly, I would not be the person I am today without my staff and team,” Skinner said. “They are an amazing group, and they make me want to be a better principal every day.”

Skinner said she believes Gwinnett’s success in the area of counseling can be attributed to a focus on this area throughout the district. She credited the creation of the student advisement program to help be an advocate for the individual student. Continue reading

Pharr Elementary shows off garden to state superintendent

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Jon Jurick, far left, a health and PE teacher at Pharr Elementary School, give a tour with Principal Mary Thomas, first-grade teacher Monica Jones and State School Superintendent Richard Woods. Woods visited to honor Pharr for being named a National Green Ribbon School (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

The state school superintendent visiting Pharr Elementary School was a validation and affirmation that what the school is doing should be shared elsewhere.

That was the sentiment of two Pharr teachers who led a tour of the school’s garden.

Pharr has had a school garden for six years, but it’s steadily grown through the years and now has more than 100 species of plants, vegetables and fruits. It’s been named a National Green Ribbon School, and that’s one reason why Richard Woods, the top official in the Georgia Department of Education, paid a visit on Monday.

 “It kind of shows you what we’re doing is right,” said Jon Jurick, a health and PE teacher who’s involved with a garden club made up of more than 20 students along with Monica Jones, a first-grade teacher.

Added Jones, “To hear him saying, ‘I would like to take that to someone else.’”

The school has collected more than 800 pounds of food, and fed 140 families and it also has an outreach program with the Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op.

Among the recent highlights for the garden was the addition of loofah gourds, which have been made into soap and sold. So the project is developing entrepreneursim and math skills.

“You’re taking learning for what it should be and what it can be,” said Woods, who added that he knew of another school selling in-house products to support their own project.” Continue reading

Riverside Elementary students thank nearly 100 veterans

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Justin Henry, far left, who serves in the Army National Guard, eats lunch with his daughter, first-grader Olivia, during a Veterans Day celebration at Riverside Elementary School. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

There was a mixture of smiles and tears on Friday at Riverside Elementary School.

One teacher was so emotional about the outpouring of patriotism from students and families, she admitted to some “ugly cries” right there in the hallway.

Outside the cafeteria, there was a wall filled with pictures of relatives and notes written by students thanking veterans for their service. Teachers also shared pictures of sons who served, and one teacher displayed a copy of the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

 Veterans Day was officially celebrated on Friday, but it was a culmination of a week-long exercise at the school where teachers and adminstrators looked to focus on military veterans and patriotism and away from the recent volatile election.

“It’s awesome that we’re instilling that in our children at such a young age,” said Justin Henry, who wore his Army National Guard uniform when he ate lunch with his daughter, first-grader Olivia.

Nearly 100 veterans visited the school to speak with students and have lunch with their relatives, typically grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Continue reading

GCPS names new associate superintendent

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Dr. Linda Anderson, an assistant superintendent for school improvement and operations for elementary schools, is the new associate superintendent for the division of human resources and talent management.

Less than two weeks after Frances Davis left Gwinnett County Public Schools, the Gwinnett Board of Education on Thursday announced her replacement.

Linda Anderson, an assistant superintendent for school improvement and operations for elementary schools, will become the new associate superintendent for the division of human resources and talent management. Anderson replaces Davis, who had been in the position for 15 years and worked in GCPS for 24 years, which was part of a 38-year career.

In a special called meeting at the Infinite Energy Center following the Teacher of the Year banquet, the BOE also named new principals at three schools.

 Anderson has had several stints in GCPS, starting in 1990 as a special education teacher at Berkmar High School. She then was an assistant principal at Trickum Middle School, and principal at Arcado Elementary School and Level Creek Elementary School. Outside of Gwinnett, she’s worked as a deputy superintendent in Fulton County Schools, and an assistant superintendent in Atlanta Public Schools.

Anderson holds degrees from Northeast Missouri State University, the University of Nebraska, Nova Southeastern University and Mercer University. Continue reading

Rock Springs Elementary educator wins Teacher of the Year honor

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Jamie Lynn McFarland of Rock Springs Elementary School is named the 2017 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year at a banquet held at the Infinite Energy Ballroom.

There’s no doubt Ivey celebrated Thursday night.

The teacher who was inspired by a young girl with multiple disabilities, including deaf-blindness, received the highest honor a Gwinnett teacher could receive on Thursday night.

Jamie Lynn McFarland, a special education teacher at Rock Springs Elementary School, was honored during an annual celebration at the Infinite Energy Forum in Duluth. At the event, Gwinnett County Public Schools recognized 135 local school Teachers of the Year who were joined by family, local school and central office administrators, and the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

 Along with the award, McFarland also will receive a crystal peach, a $500 grocery store gift card and gift basket, a commemorative ring, a laptop computer and the use of a new car for one year.

In an emotional speech after receiving the award, McFarland said, “Oh my goodness.”

She said the evening was an honor for all special education students and teachers.

“We often feel forgotten or less than the regular teachers,” said McFarland, who also mentioned her faith in Jesus. “I truly feel seen and appreciated. This award is so much more than me. To my sweet students, you guys are the reason I do what I do.” Continue reading

Jackson EMC Surprises Local Teachers with Giant Checks!

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016