Volume 14 , Number 1December 14, 2021


About this issue...
This issue recognizes fall honors received through early December.
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ICYMI... Congratulations to 2022 GCPS Teacher of the Year
Lee Allen!


Lee Allen was named as the district’s top teacher at the annual Teacher of the Year (TOTY) recognition event on Dec. 7. Mr. Allen, an Algebra I teacher at Archer HS, was named 2022 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year (TOTY) as well as the High School Teacher of the Year. 


Jamie Garcia Caycho, a 1st grade teacher at Arcado ES, is this year’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Taniesha Pooser, who teaches orchestra at Berkmar MS, is the system’s TOTY at the middle school level. The other three Teacher of the Year finalists were Kelly Powell of Puckett’s Mill ES, Jenny Stark of North Gwinnett MS, and Erin Thompson of Brookwood HS. The six finalists were chosen from amon25 semifinalistsThe TOTY contest began with a field of 139 local school TOTYs. (Our TOTY winners have been honored in issues of Education Briefs and Torch throughout the fall, including the special TOTY issue on Dec.8) .


Lee Allen of Archer HS stands with his award plaque.


Left to right: Taniesha Pooser of Berkmar MS, Lee Allen of Archer HS, and Jamie Garcia Caycho or Arcado ES.

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Eleven GCPS high schools earn 2021 College Success Award-Gold from GreatSchools
Eleven GCPS high schools were named 2021 GreatSchools College Success Award winners, earning the Gold honor. The honor recognizes and celebrates public high schools across the country that excelled at helping students to enroll and succeed in college. This year, GreatSchools added an additional, elevated level of distinction— the College Success Award – Gold. This honor is given to schools with a multiyear track record of preparing students for postsecondary success. The following schools were recognized:
Archer HS
Brookwood HS
Dacula HS
Grayson HS
Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST)
Lanier HS
Mill Creek HS
Mountain View HS
North Gwinnett HS
Parkview HS
Peachtree Ridge HS
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Parson ES’ Jennifer Kim earns international 1st-place finish
Jennifer Kim, a teacher at Parsons ES, placed 1st in the Korean Distance Learning Lesson Development Competition, sponsored by the International Korean Educators Network. This contest invited Korean teachers to submit distance-based lesson plans to support Korean language learning during COVID-19 and beyond. Winners receive a grant, and their lessons are highlighted on the network and shared with teachers internationally.
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GCPS driver again recognized for photography in national contest
A GCPS transportation employee once again has earned honors for the work he does with a camera. Russell Adams, a GCPS school bus driver, has been named a winner of School Bus Fleet’s 2021 Photo Contest. His winning photo is titled “The Giant.” Mr. Adams says he loves to photograph nature in his spare time and has published a book of similar photos, “Visions of a Bus Driver.” Mr. Adams also was honored in School Bus Fleet’s 2020 Photo Contest for an award winning photo, “Upsidedown.”
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GCPS art educators recognized by state art association
The Georgia Art Education Association awarded three GCPS teachers with 2022 State Art Education Awards. Congratulations to Annie Park of Lanier MS, Dr. Lauren Phillips of GSMST, and Dallas Gillespie of North Gwinnett HS.
Annie Park of Lanier MS has been honored as the Georgia Art Education Association (GAEA) Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Lauren Phillips of Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology has been recognized as the GAEA Secondary School Teacher of the Year.

Dallas Gillespie of North Gwinnett HS received the National Art Honor Society Award.

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GCPS Title I schools among state’s
2020-21 Reward Schools and Distinguished Schools

Earlier this year, the Georgia Department of Education released the list of 2020-21 Reward Schools (the Title I schools making the most progress in improving student performance), along with the list of Distinguished Schools (the Title I schools with the highest performance on assessments administered in spring of 2019).
Title I Distinguished Schools:
A 2020–21 Title I Distinguished School is among the top 5% of Title I schools in Georgia, reflecting those Title I schools with the highest performance on assessments administered in spring of 2019.
Berkeley Lake ES
Harris ES
Knight ES

McKendree ES
Partee ES

Title I Reward Schools:
A 2020–21 Title I Reward School is among the top 5% of Title I schools in Georgia, reflecting those Title I schools making the most progress in improving the performance of all students over the most recent two years on statewide assessments. (Because assessments were not administered in the 2019-20 school year, this year's list is based on 2018-19 and 2019-20 data.)
Baggett ES
Corley ES
Lawrenceville ES
Lilburn ES
Peachtree ES
Sweetwater MS

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North Metro Academy of Performing Arts
earns GaDOE honor for arts integration

North Metro Academy of Performing Arts has been named a recipient of the Georgia Department of Education’s Creative School Arts Integration School of Excellence Award. The honor’s recognition includes:
    • schools where all students have access to arts integration in every subject;
    • there is both rigor and relevance in the arts integration programming;
    • arts integration professional development is ongoing;
    • the program is well-organized; and
    • the school involves the community in the arts.
North Metro Academy of Performing Arts is one of only three schools in the state to receive the award in 2021.
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GCPS educator named to list of most
influential Latinos in state

For the third year in a row, Nury Crawford, the director of Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Community-Based Mentoring Program-Hispanic Girls Program, has been named one of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GHCC). Ms. Crawford, who was selected from a pool of more than 300 nominees, says the honor was unexpected. “I am humbly honored that my community continues to bestow their trust in me,” she says. “I hold myself accountable for the work I am assigned to lead. Empowering students and their families are both personal and professional goals for me.” 
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CTE teachers earn state honors
from affiliate organizations of GACTE


Pintu Thaker of Meadowcreek HS and  Lauren O’Connor of Paul Duke STEM HS have been recognized as top teachers 
in their respective fields. 
Ms. Thaker is the 2021 Georgia Business Education Association Teacher of the Year. Ms. O’Connor is the 2021 Georgia Marketing Education Association Teacher of the Year. 

Both teachers were honored at the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education (GACTE) Summer Conference in July. GACTE provides educational leadership in the development of a competitive workforce by providing a wide range of opportunities for teachers and students throughout the state. In honoring these teachers, the group acknowledges teachers and leaders with its affiliate organizations who have been instrumental in furthering career and technical education in classrooms, schools, and communities.

Pintu Thaker


Lauren O'Connor

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GCPS bus driver honored by Rotary Club of Gwinnett County
Ronald Parks, a GCPS bus driver, received a Hidden Hero Award from the Rotary Club of Gwinnett County. The award is given to a bus driver who goes above the call of duty and demonstrates “Service Above Self” in the course of his or her responsibilities. “Service Above Self” is the centerpiece for all Rotary organizations. Mr. Parks was selected for his work with the GCPS Community-Based Mentoring Program. He meets once a week with his student and calls students on Sunday to encourage them for the upcoming week.

Carol Buscarino, Mr. Parks’ supervisor, adds, “He has the unique ability to communicate effectively and efficiently. He mentors on and off the bus, using the same mentoring practices for his students as he does for his mentees. He discusses life choices, coaches the students to have respect for themselves and for others. He calls their homes regularly and speaks to the parents about their student's school week. They often discuss grades and behavior. Ron has shared with me, that the students' parents often share with him that the students do not want to disappoint Mr. Ron by missing the bus or getting suspended. Ron constantly praises his students that are riding on the bus. He tells each one of his students as they are exiting the bus, ‘I am very proud of you, and think before you react’ and ‘I look forward to seeing you in the afternoon or the next morning.’ During his mid-day breaks, he works with the Safety and Training Department as a Staff Development Instructor. He brings his same passion for guiding, encouraging and supporting to the training classroom, and to his fellow bus managers and monitors.”
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In Need-to-know highlights in Spotlight:
Learn more about…
  • System, School, and Staff Honors

  • Participants

  • Publications, and

  • Grants, Donations, and Scholarships.

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    System, School, and Staff Honors
  • Gwinnett Online Campus—earned a 2021 D2L Excellence Award.
  • Gwinnett County Public Schools—named Best Employer in Gwinnett Daily Post’s ‘Best of the Best’ awards.
  • Frankie Elmore, Chief Information Officer—honored as a finalist for the 2021 Georgia CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards.
  • Cicely Lewis of Meadowcreek HS—one of 50 finalists for the 2021 Global Teacher Prize, sponsored by the Varkey Foundation.
  • School Resource Officers Rhonda Wood and Zakia Williams—both were nominated for the Axon Rise Officer Award, and Officer Wood was recognized as a finalist. The award honors officers who have saved a life or shown exemplary performance in the field. Wood and Williams were nominated for the honor after each officer, in separate incidents, helped save the life of an infant.
  • Congratulations to the following programs that have been recognized with industry certification:
    Maxwell HS of Technology’s architecture program, led by Teacher Dee Tillman
    Mountain View HS’ marketing program, led by Teacher Kimya Rainge
    North Gwinnett HS culinary program, led by Teacher Lara Knapp-Storm
  • Congratulations to the following schools named as 2020-2021 Kids Heart Challenge Top 10 Schools:
    —1. Duncan Creek ES
    —2. Mulberry ES
    —3. Dacula ES
    —4. Woodward Mill ES
    —5. Rock Springs ES
    —6. Suwanee ES
    —7. Pharr ES
    —8. Taylor ES
    —9. Walnut Grove ES
    —10. Freeman's Mill ES
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  • Participants
  • Ebony Thornton of Grayson HS—participated as a featured guest on a recent edition of World Language Classroom hosted by Joshua Cabral.
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  • Publications
  • Amity Lutes of Chesney ES—published an article, “The Effect of a Hip-Hop Based Education Unit on Fifth-Grade Students’ Math Achievements,” in the International Journal of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Learning.
  • Anastasia Moore Rider of Osborne ES—published a book, entitled Boy, an autobiographical story about the love of a father who encouraged the author to pursue her dreams.
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  • Grants, Donations, and Scholarships
  • Lilburn ES—received a $50,000 check from Dollar General to support the school’s literacy programs. Media Specialist Valerie Dickey (right) applied for the grant.
  • GCPSExplore Book Mobile—restocked with 4,000 donated books by the nonprofit Kares 4 Kids.
  • GCPS Police Department—worked with Graystone Church, Victory Church, and Hope and Life Church to provide food, clothes, toys, and books to 240 students.
  • Burnette ES, Mason ES, and Parsons ES—received book donations from the Atlanta Korean American Committee Against Asian Hate. The committee delivered copies of “I Love You No Matter What.” The book is written by Nury Crawford, a director in GCPS’ Community-Based Mentoring Program, and produced in English and Korean.
  • Meadowcreek ES—was selected for the StartProud Program from Office Depot, a campaign that uses “round up” donations to fund a celebration for the school and a shopping spree for teachers.
  • Dr. Krystal Tomlin of Shiloh HS—received the $2,500 Northside Hospital Partnership in Education Sponsorship Grant for the 2021-22 school year. Dr. Tomlin (right) plans to use the grant for Shiloh HOSA to sponsor a community health fair in the spring.
  • Oakland Meadow School—received a $4,500 donation to support a wish list for recreation leisure games, gardening materials, and sensory items to enhance the school’s playground.
  • Britt ESawarded $5,000 by Burlington Stores and AdoptAClassroom.org. The money will be used to purchase supplies for teachers at the school. The donation was made in celebration of the grand opening of Burlington’s new store in Snellville.
  • Mountain View HS—received a grant-funded sensory room makeover from the Georgia United Foundation School Crashers® program.
  • Congratulations to the following schools for being recipients of Bosch STEM Grants:

    School
    STEM Focus of Grant
    Grant Award
    Alcova ESAlcova Computer Science/STEM program—This grant will support the purchase of iMac desktop computers for the Computer Science program. $12,425.00
    Osborne MSDesigning Outdoor Learning Spaces Brings STEM to Life—This grant will support project-based and inquiry-based STEM learning opportunities and associated costs, including STEM kits, materials and supplies, and teacher professional development in project-based learning and STEM.$11,625.00
    Mill Creek HSEPIC STEM Experiential Learning—This grant will support the Experiential, Project-Based, Innovative, Collaborative and Cross-Curricular learning (EPIC) program and associated costs, including an outdoor ecosystem impact classroom, expansion of a hydroponics program, Arduino Explore IOT kits, a field trip to the Georgia Tech Living Building, and teacher professional development at the GA STEM Forum. $8,850.00
    Paul Duke STEM HSSTEM Team’s Hoop Dreams—This grant will support the construction of a hoop house and associated costs including hoop house building supplies, aquaponics supplies, water filtration supplies, water reclamation supplies, a wind turbine, and a solar energy collection system. $8,000.00
    Jackson ESJackson Elementary Robotics and STEM Lab—This grant will support STEM and robotics programs and associated costs, including the purchase of an Ozobot Evo classroom kit, Makey Makey STEM packs, and LEGO Education MindStorm and SPIKE sets. $5,000.00
    Northbrook MSNorthbrook Engineering and STEM Exploration Lab—This grant will support the Engineering and STEM Exploration Lab project and associated costs, including the purchase of STEM kits and Chromebooks.$4,100.00

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  • Something to celebrate?
    Share your good news with your colleagues in the Spotlight publication. If you have earned a state or national award, earned a degree, made a presentation, or had work published, send the information to the Spotlight mailbox via Lotus Notes, or to the Communication and Media Relations department through the courier. Click here to send submissions to Spotlight for our next issue.
    Share your feedback on Spotlight!

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        Last modified on 12/15/2021