Volume 10 , Number 2January 19, 2018


This issue recognizes honors from the fall.

Dr. Vedder recognized by the French Ministry of Education

Dr. Virin Vedder of Curriculum and Instruction has earned the Order des Palmes Academique (Order of Academic Palms), a national order of the Republic of France that recognizes distinguished academics and contributors in the fields of education and culture. The award was founded by Emperor Napoleon in 1805 and is bestowed upon French citizens or foreign nationals who make major contributions to the expansion of French language and culture.

As a teacher, Dr. Vedder was among a group of Gwinnett County Public Schools teachers who piloted the first middle school Carnegie Unit French programs here in GCPS. To a very large degree, the decision to include French in the first cohort of Dual Language Immersion (DLI) schools was based on Dr. Vedder's French language proficiency and his ability to support this complex and innovative new program.

As a French speaking administrator, Dr. Vedder had the singular ability to interview and hire exemplary French-speaking teachers and to ensure that these teachers had the supports they needed to successfully integrate French language and culture into daily instruction.

In 2015, Dr. Vedder moved to the Instructional Support Center to provide additional support for world languages and DLI programs, first as an instructional coach, and then by promotion to serve as instructional specialist for languages and dual language immersion. In his current position, Dr. Vedder collaborates with our world language and DLI teacher-leaders, national experts and trainers, and building- and content-area leadership to develop and implement DLI professional development and support world language and DLI instruction districtwide. Dr. Vedder's work came to the attention of the French Consulate during hosted visits to our French DLI, middle, and high school classrooms.
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SNP's Hallford earns Silver Spirit Award in national FAME honors
Karen Halford, MS, RD, LD, who serves as assistant director of the School Nutrition Program, was honored with the Silver Spirit Award at the 29th annual Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence (FAME) Awards competition. The award will be presented at the 2018 School Nutrition Industry Conference on Jan. 21, 2018.
The award recognizes an individual who demonstrates a high level of professional commitment to school nutrition programs, developing innovative programs, contributing to high morale among SNP staff, and making a difference for people in the school community.
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Special Education’s McNair earns state honor as parent mentor
Gwinnett County Parent Mentor Jackie McNair has been named recipient of the 2017 Phil Pickens Award. The award acknowledges the hard work and contributions of a parent mentor who has dedicated his or her career to improving the educational and postsecondary outcomes of students with disabilities and guiding the work of special education school staff and parents.The award is named after the late Phil Pickens who served as state director of the Georgia Department of Education Special Services Department and founded the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership.


Ms. McNair was recognized for her efforts within Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) as well as on a regional and state level. Every parent mentor is the caregiver of a child who has a disability. Ms. McNair, who is a long-time advocate involved in disability-related organizations and programs, is informed by the needs of her own family and those she serves.

Ms. McNair has passion for her work, saying “Working with families has been the highlight of my career. During my years as a mentor, I’ve been instrumental in creating and developing several workshops to teach parents about special education and how to be involved effectively in their schools and communities.” 
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Fran Overdyke honored as GASN School Nurse of the Year
Fran Overdyke has been named School Nurse of the Year by the Georgia Association of School Nurses (GASN). Through this award, the GASN recognizes nurses who have demonstrated excellence in school nursing services. Ms. Overdyke, who has been a nurse for more than a decade and a half, says she appreciates the honor.

“There are so many talented and dedicated school nurses in GCPS, so I am very honored to receive the award,” Ms. Overdyke said. She added, “I love what I do and I can honestly say it’s the best nursing job I’ve ever had and I learn new things all the time. I am motivated by the needs of our students, their families, and the staff in our schools. We are such a large system and the needs are many and varied.” Ms. Overdyke is the second GCPS nurse to win the award in the last three years. Joanne Giel won the award in 2015.
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Four earn state kudos from Georgia School Counselor Association
The Georgia School Counselor Association (GSCA) is proud to recognize and honor exemplary contributions to school counseling. The GSCA awards are bestowed upon deserving individuals annually in recognition of outstanding commitment to, performance in and support of school counseling.

A round of applause is in order for the following GCPS staff members for their 2017 state recognition:

GSCA School Counselor
of the Year
Dr. Samela Tucker Reid of Parkview HS
GSCA Supervisor of the Year Penny Palmer Young of Arcado ES
GSCA Emerging Leader AwardLaura Ross of Five Forks MS
GSCA Writing AwardSimone Sheppard of Rosebud ES

“It is an honor for The Office of Advisement and Counseling to support our counselors and their comprehensive counseling programs as they work to develop thoughtful, prepared, and competitive student leaders," says Dr. Tinisha Parker, director of Advisement and Counseling. “We are extremely proud of our school counselors who add to the tradition of excellence in Gwinnett County through their meaningful work with students. The counselors selected by GSCA represent the best in the state of Georgia and will indeed go on to make an impressive showing at the national level.”

Before being tapped for the state honors, the four were honored in Gwinnett during county award ceremonies on Feb. 7. State honorees may be considered for national recognition. GCPS counselors are among the most recognized school counseling professionals in the state and nation.
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Three GCPS educators among 10 honorees in AJC Celebrating Teachers program
Angela Gray of Baggett ES, Kari Parlier of Duncan Creek ES, and Jim Reason of Duluth HS have been recognized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) for their positive impact on students’ lives and the local community. The educators have been named AJC Celebrating Teachers Award winners. They are among a select group of 10 educators who were honored at a celebratory evening event.

The honorees, chosen by a panel of four academic leaders representing Georgia’s local universities and professional education standards, specialize in a variety of fields, including English literature, computer science, physical education, music, and more. They appeared in a special commemorative edition of the AJC.

From left to right: Angela Gray of Baggett ES, Kari Parlier of Duncan Creek ES,
and Jim Reason of Duluth HS

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Need-to-know highlights in Spotlight:
Learn more about…
  • System, School, and Staff Honors

  • Degrees

  • Presentations

  • Publications

  • Participants, and

  • Grants/Scholarships.


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    System, School, and Staff Honors
  • School Nutrition Program earned the Golden Radish Award for farm-to-school efforts, awarded by Georgia's departments of Agriculture, Education, and Public Health, and the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and Georgia Organics.
  • Greg Marr of Mill Creek HS— recognized by the Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a recipient of the 2017 Yale Educator Award.
  • Christy Battle and Jeannie Lanio, both of Lanier HS honored with the 2017 Jim Steele Green Educator of the Year Award for their work at Lanier HS.
  • Maxwell HS of Technology featured in a new trade-focused video series called Great Georgia Jobs.” Maxwell is included in Episode 2 of the series, starting at the 10:15 mark.
  • Trickum MS earned designation as National Beta School of Distinction.
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  • Degrees
  • Dr. David P. Johnson of Information Management and Technology— earned a doctoral degree in Information Technology from Walden University.
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  • Presentations
  • Dr. Angelyne Collins of Brookwood HS presented the following at the Literacy Research Association: “Remixing the Canon: Using A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies in an Online Student Lounge” and “A Longitudinal Critical Inquiry into Adult Literacy Tutoring Programs in U.S. Public Libraries.”
  • Kelly Mraz of Head ES— premiered her piece for Orff ensemble, “Little Miss Muffett,” at the American Orff-Schulwerk Association’s National Conference. Ms. Mraz entered a composition contest to honor the organization’s 50th anniversary and the piece was one of four selected to be published and performed.
  • Cara Norton of Collins Hill HS— selected to be a speaker at the Southern Business Education Association (SBEA) Leadership Development Seminar.
  • Dr. William Cossen of Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology gave an invited talk, “Catholicism, Americanism, and Religious Liberty: A Church and Culture in Tension,” as the inaugural speaker for the STM Coffeehouse at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Decatur. Dr. Cossen also appeared as a guest historian on the podcast, Creative Tension: The Jim Crow Years .
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  • Publications
  • Kevin Brown of Archer HS— published Darkskin and Redbones, the second in the “Hard Knocks High” book series. The first book is Project Windows.
  • Kudos to Dr. William Cossen of Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology for publishing the following articles:
    —two book reviews in Reading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion: a review of Barry Hankins’s book, “Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President,” and a review of Jenna Weissman Joselit’s book, “Set in Stone: America's Embrace of the Ten Commandments.”
    —an online article, “Historiographic Saints,” in Religion in American History: A Group Blog on Religion in American Culture and History.
    —an online article, “Total Eclipse of the Past,” in the Society for U.S. Intellectual Blog.
    —an article (co-authored with Erin Bartram), “A Group of Catholics Has Charged Pope Francis with Heresy: Here's Why That Matters” in The Washington Post.
    —a book review of Caroline B. Brettell’s “Following Father Chiniquy: Immigration, Religious Schism, and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Illinois” in American Nineteenth Century History, (Oct. 2017).
    —an article, “Blood, Honor, Reform, and God: Anti-Dueling Associations and Moral Reform in the Old South,” will appear in a forthcoming issue of the peer-reviewed journal
    American Nineteenth Century History.

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  • Grants, Donations, and Scholarships
  • Beaver Ridge ES— selected for a $85,000 KaBOOM! playground community build, partnering with Newell Brands.
  • Duluth HS received a $35,000 grant from Iconex to support the school’s engineering program.
  • Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology received a $30,000 Arconic Foundation grant to build an innovation lab.
  • Grayson HS received a $25,000 grant from Food Well Alliance to support the Grayson HS Community Farm and Garden project.
  • GCPS' Community-Based Mentoring Program received a $25,000 grant from the Primerica Foundation to expand the successful boys mentoring program to include a mentoring option for girls.
  • Meadowcreek HS— selected for a $20,000 FIRST grant to support robotics, coding, and STEM education in the Cluster.
  • Congratulations to the following MS educators for earning Bright Ideas Grants awarded by Jackson EMC for their projects:

    SchoolAwardedEducatorProject
    Berkmar MS$500Erin Corrigan-SmithLanguage Arts Manipulatives
    Berkmar MS$1,560Jim RobersonSigning Savvy
    Berkmar MS$1,250Rainey BakerBreakOut EDU Boxes
    Coleman MS$1,944Sheila HarmonyKinetic Sculptures & Animatronics
    Creekland MS$2,000Dr. Anthony PiazzaWind Turbine Science
    Dacula MS$2,000Liliana Tamas3D Printing Integration
    Dacula MS$800Elizabeth WallA Place to Shine Literacy Program
    Hull MS$2,000Joe HerbertTheater and Film Odyssey
    Hull MS$2,000Kari SalomonEnergy Model Communities
    Jordan MS$1,467Jennifer DaSilvaRollercoaster of Energy
    McConnell MS$1,137Kristin BergstromAeroponic Tower
    Radloff MS$2,000Julie WilkersonSolar Cars to Solar Lives
    Sweetwater MS$1,961 J. Antoine ShadePlants + Technology = Future
    Sweetwater MS$625Alicia PerkinsHoly Crepe!
    Sweetwater MS$1,950James MitchellSTEAM Robotics in Engineering
    Twin Rivers MS$1,326Kim ChristmanMobile Green Room
    Twin Rivers MS$1,996Andrew CoxThe Unseen World of Energy
    Twin Rivers MS$1,700Abby ThurstonInteractive Microscope Investigations


  • Congratulations to the following educators for earning Walton EMC EmPOWERment Grants:

    School
    2017 Grant Awarded
    Grant-Winning Educators
    Project
    Britt ES
    $6,397
    Kimberly SingletonPutting the A in STEAM at Britt
    Britt ES
    $1,998.51
    Shannon DavisGrowing with Graphic Novels
    Brookwood HS
    $10,000
    Valarie Dalziel and Deborah BrowningCommon Grounds
    Centerville ES
    $2,049
    Reginald E. WatkinsWeather Station
    Centerville ES
    $7,024
    Marla ParishClassroom Libraries
    Couch MS
    $5,000
    Rebekah CastnerLife Amplified
    Craig ES
    $7,500
    Chris LockeSTEPS (Seeing Technology in Education as a Plan for Success)
    Five Forks MS
    $8,140
    Andrew WhatleyCollaborative, Project-based Learning Made Possible by 1:1 Google Chromebooks
    Grace Snell MS
    $5,000
    Charles WalkerGrace Snell Math & LA Readiness and Recovery Project
    Grayson HS
    $7,647.12
    Lara LarsonSolar Powered Hydroponic Garden
    Gwin Oaks ES
    $8,175.71
    Sharon AmoloExtending Learning with Virtual Reality
    Harbins ES
    $5,000
    Trisha ConnerEmpowering Students through Project Based Learning
    Head ES
    $5,734
    Shann GriffithReading with Robots
    Magill ES
    $4,935
    Cherie Neal and Lakia WilliamsTNT Chromebooks Tackiling Needs with Technology
    McConnell MS
    $3,257.97
    April Turner and Gaye WalkR.O.A.R (Reach Out and Read)
    Parkview HS
    $16,362
    Peggy BergmanEye Can See the Future is Now
    Partee ES
    $1,198
    Mona BrawleyClassroom OSMOs for K and 1st grade students
    Partee ES
    $1,195
    Lisa M. MillsOzobots for Robotics
    Pharr ES
    $2,500
    Dionne HowardChrome Books for Classrooms and Reading Resources
    Rosebud ES
    $2,500.
    Natalie RoodNonfiction Leveled Readers for Classroom Libraries
    Shiloh ES
    $2,000
    Thomas Trippany and Angela Banks-Spain (parent)Strengthening Shiloh's Technology
    Shiloh ES
    $4,895
    Thomas Trippany and Angela Banks-Spain (parent)Literacy Matters at Shiloh Elementary
    Shiloh HS
    $5,000
    Jamilya MayoInnovation Lab - Entrpreneurship Incubator Proposal
    Shiloh MS
    $10,215
    Dr. Eli Welch and Angela Banks-Spain (parent)Technology Matters for Shiloh Middle At-Risk Students
    Snellville MS
    $7,954.95
    Bryant PossMedia Makeover
    Starling ES
    $4,500
    Rachel ErnstChromebooks for Classrooms
    Trickum MS
    $1,764
    Jeff SchaeferUkulele Class
    Trip ES
    $1,217.85
    Debbie PatrickAeroponic Technology Gardening
    Trip ES
    $1,515
    Shari AyersAED for Gym
  • Brookwood HS received a $16,000 grant from 3M to improve the school’s AP Physics lab.
  • Brian Moler of Discovery HS received a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Goizueta Enrichment Microgrant for $5,200. The award will be used to buy iPads and calculators for Mr. Moler’s Geometry classroom. The microgrants allow Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellows to write proposals for small amounts of funding to attend or present at professional conferences, buy teaching materials for their classrooms, or complete community-based service learning projects.
  • Jessie Kelly of Trickum MS earned the grand prize for the Citgo Fueling Education Program. The prize includes $5,000 in school supplies from National School Supply and a Steve Spangler Workshop at Trickum MS for 100 teachers.
  • GCPS' Community-Based Mentoring Program received a $5,000 grant from TJX, the company that owns T.J. Maxx, in support of the program’s work identifying and helping students with their social and academic development.
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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. Items received since the October deadline will be part of the next issue. Click here to send submissions to Spotlight. The deadline for the next issue is Feb. 10.
    Share your feedback on Spotlight!

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        Last modified on 01/19/2018