Volume 2, Issue 3

December 2004

Wilbanks named 2005 Superintendent of the Year

On Dec. 3, Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks was named 2005 Georgia Superintendent of the Year. The announcement came at the annual conference of the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and the Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA). Mr. Wilbanks will represent Georgia in the 2005 National Superintendent of the Year program. The national winner will be announced in February at the annual conference of the American Association of School Administrators. In making the announcement, GSSA President H. F. Johnson called Mr. Wilbanks “a wise and courageous leader.” Click here for more.

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In good company: CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks stands with GCPS students Diana DeGarmo (left) of Shiloh HS and Natalie Abreu (right) of Meadowcreek HS, following the GSBA luncheon at which Mr. Wilbanks was named Superintendent of the Year. Miss Abreu opened the event with "The Star-Spangled Banner" sung a capella, while Miss DeGarmo performed holiday songs and a selection from her new album.

“In late November, the school system announced the purchase of an existing facility to house the school system’s instructional and support personnel. The facility’s new name—the Instructional Support Center—is significant. It was chosen with care to send a strong message about the all-important mission of this organization,” said J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO/superintendent. “The ISC will ensure support for our main business of teaching and learning, and allow GCPS to free up current space that can be used for systemwide programs and services.

Instructional Support Center

Click here for more about the Instructional Support Center.

Art educator named GCPS’ top teacher

With the words “Go art!” Debi West, a visual art teacher at Level Creek ES, accepted the 2005 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year award at a Nov. 9 banquet. Also honored were Sallie Barrett of Richard Hull MS as the county’s MS Teacher of the Year and IV Bray of Berkmar HS as the county’s HS Teacher of the Year. Before being named the county winner, Mrs. West was honored as Gwinnett County ES Teacher of the Year. Mrs. West was chosen from a field of 97 local school nominees, which had been narrowed to six finalists through a two-phase selection process. The other finalists were Diane A. Clack of Parsons ES, Joann Morse of R. D. Head ES, and Rosemarie Placek of Peachtree Ridge HS. Mrs. West will represent the county in state competition. The Georgia Teacher of the Year will be named after the first of the year. Click here to read more about these terrific teachers.

Debi West

Mrs. West (also this year’s National Elementary Art Educator of the Year) provides the following tips for helping your child expand his art education beyond the classroom:

  • Ask to see the art work your child is doing at school;
  • Attend art exhibits and performances and visit museums and art centers with your child;
  • Check out art books from the library;
  • Put art on your walls—by professional artists and by your child;
  • Play art games; and
  • Encourage your child to create!

GCPS shares ‘wish list’ with legislative delegation

No Game Boys, bikes, or Barbie dolls on this wish list. On Nov. 30, the Gwinnett County Board of Education presented its legislative priorities to the 22-member Gwinnett delegation at a breakfast meeting. “This annual meeting is a warm-up to the legislative session, bringing leaders together to discuss education funding and challenges,” says David McCleskey, GCPS coordinator for Governmental Relations. “It is critical that we update our delegation on the current funding situation in GCPS, providing them with accurate information and answering questions they might have.” When the 2005 General Assembly begins in January, at the top of GCPS’ list will be local control and those issues with a financial impact on an already-tight budget, especially class-size reduction. Click here for a summary of GCPS’ 2005 legislative priorities.

Schools host community members for education celebration

During American Education Week (Nov. 14–20), 31 Gwinnett schools hosted business leaders for the inaugural Principal for a Day initiative, cosponsored by Gwinnett County Public Schools and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. “Our goal was to provide CEO-level business leaders with a day-long, personal, authentic look at the operations of today’s schools,” said CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. “They experienced up close the rewards, challenges, and satisfaction that come with being the instructional and managerial leader of a modern public school.” Click here for more about this initiative.

District I:
Carole Boyce joins School Board as Dr. Billy Britt ends term

Carole Boyce

On Jan. 1, former teacher and GCPS parent Carole Boyce
begins her four-year term on the Gwinnett County Board of Education (BOE), representing District I (including areas of Dacula, Lawrenceville, and Grayson.) Mrs. Boyce was elected to fill the post vacated by Dr. Billy Britt, who has served on the Board since 1996. Jan. 1 also marks new terms for two current Board members who won re-election Nov. 2. Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, District III representative and 2004 Board chair, begins her third term. Louise Radloff has held the District V Board seat since 1973. A new BOE chair and vice-chair will be elected at the Jan. 13 meeting.

State grants AYP appeal to Berkmar HS on grad rate

Last month, the state Department of Education (DOE) notified the school system that an appeal has been granted for Berkmar HS on the school’s adequate yearly progress (AYP) status under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Originally, the state DOE had designated Berkmar HS as not making AYP due to its graduation rate. As a result of the granted appeal, Berkmar HS made AYP and is considered in good standing by the state.

Recent GCPS state and national recognitions
  • Annistown Elementary, G.H. Hopkins Elementary, and Kanoheda Elementary earned Title I recognition from the Georgia Department of Education. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, all have made Adequate Yearly Progress for three consecutive years.
  • GCPS’ Special Education Department was recognized by the Council for Administrators of Special Education as a state leader for increasing the percentage of students with disabilities meeting or exceeding state achievement standards in 2003–04.
  • The teaching profession’s highest credential, national board certification, became a reality for a number of Gwinnett educators last month. A preliminary list indicates that 42 Gwinnett teachers successfully completed the process. (Additional teachers who began the certification process in another school system are not included in this total.) Gwinnett has close to 150 board-certified teachers on staff.

Click here for some recent honors and awards. This list is updated periodically to include additional news releases as schools, staff members, and students are honored at the state and national levels.

Special education parent mentors, advisory council
promote family-school partnerships

For parents whose children are served through the special education program, the school-home connection is especially important. Two significant GCPS projects provide support to these students and their families:

  • Parent Mentor Program: A joint venture between GCPS and the Georgia Department of Education, this program helps build a bridge between families and schools by developing understanding, respect, support, and the communication skills needed to support a home-school partnership focused on student achievement. To learn more, call Parent Mentor Jodi McNamara at (678) 985-0229.
  • Special Education Citizens Advisory Council: This group serves in an advisory capacity, providing input on procedures, rules, and regulations, and ways to increase communication and parental involvement.

Click here for access to the Web page for GCPS Special Education and Psychological Services.

News of note…

Meadowcreek-Hopkins redistricting OK’d: At its Dec. 9 meeting, the School Board approved a recommendation to redistrict approximately 350 students from Meadowcreek ES to G. H. Hopkins ES. A new 33-classroom addition at Hopkins will open in 2005, bringing the school’s capacity to 1,600 students. During the redistricting process, staff, parents, and community members had an opportunity to give their input on the proposal.

R. L. Norton ES gets new address: On Dec. 8, the County Board of Commissioners renamed a section of Carson Road. As a result, R. L. Norton ES has a new address: 3050 Xavier Ray Court.

Be prepared for Old Man Winter, just in case

Chilly one day, practically balmy the next— that’s Georgia weather for you. One thing you can count on in the coming months is wintry weather hitting the Peach State. Question is, will it visit Gwinnett County or take a detour? Click here for details on GCPS procedures for inclement weather and how the school system handles school cancellations.

Gwinnett schools promote wellness,
healthy habits in classes, cafeteria

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls the rise in childhood obesity an “epidemic.” Statistics are eye-opening. In 20 years, obesity rates have doubled. About 15% of elementary-age students are obese or overweight. Among Georgia teens, the average is 26% to 30%. With obesity comes a host of chronic health problems, and the seeds of long-term ill health. While families and medical professionals take the lead in combating this problem, schools can help by getting kids moving, teaching them how to stay active for life, and supporting good nutrition decisions.

  • Click here to learn more about how schools promote wellness and healthy habits, both in the classroom and in the cafeteria.
  • Click here to visit the “Food for Thought” section of the School Nutrition Program Web page. You’ll find nutrition articles and educational presentations, along with nutritional analysis of cafeteria meals.
  • Click here to learn more about MealPay, an online way to apply prepayments to your student’s cafeteria account.

Click here
for GCPS TV Programming.

Check out upcoming GCPS calendar dates
  • HS students have early release Dec. 15–17 for exams.
  • Dec. 17 is the last day of school before the Winter Break.
  • Students return to classes on Jan. 5. Report cards can be expected soon after that!
  • The School Board will meet on Jan. 13.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated Jan. 17, a systemwide holiday.
  • 5th graders will take the Georgia Writing Test on Jan. 19 and 20, while 8th graders will take their writing exam on Jan. 19. This state test is used as a Gateway assessment at these grade levels for promotion. Click here for more about the grade 5 test and here for details on the grade 8 test.
  • Jan. 22 is an SAT testing day. Dec. 20 is the deadline for regular registration for this date. Click here for registration information and here for more about the new SAT writing exam.
  • February is American Heart Month and Black History Month.
  • National School Counselor Week begins Feb. 7.
  • Early release dates are scheduled Feb. 9-10 for K-8 students to allow time for parent-teacher conferences. Click here to review tips for making the most of this time with your child’s teacher.
  • Feb. 12 is a testing day for the ACT college-admissions test and the new ACT writing exam. Jan. 7 is the deadline for registration. Click here for details on registration and here for more on the new exam.
  • National PTA Founders Day is February 17. Click here to visit the National PTA Web site.
  • Feb. 21 will be a holiday for students and teachers or snow make-up day #1. Click here for a copy of the student calendar.
  • Watch for the next issue of e-News in mid-February!

We would like to hear your suggestions for topics to cover in future issues of this publication, or ways we can keep in touch if you do not wish to receive this e-mail publication. Thank you for your continued support of public education and of Gwinnett County Public Schools' efforts to become a system of world-class schools. Please e-mail GwinnettSchoolsE-News@gwinnett.k12.ga.us with your feedback and suggestions.


©2004 Gwinnett County Public Schools. All rights reserved. 12/04

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2004 Gwinnett County Board of Education
Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Chairman; Dr. Billy Britt, Vice Chairman; Daniel Seckinger;
Dr. Robert McClure; and Louise Radloff
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks