GCPS Board Meeting Summary for November 10, 2005

The following are highlights of the November 10, 2005, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board recognizes students, teachers, and schools
-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education honored Helene Brown, a social studies teacher at Frank N. Osborne MS, on her recognition by the Georgia Council for the Social Studies as its 2005 Social Studies Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Brown has been a Gwinnett teacher for the past 27 years. She has served on many county curriculum review and adoption teams. In addition, she has served on the state textbook review committee, as well as the Georgia Performance Standards' 8th grade curriculum review committee. According to those who work with her, Mrs. Brown is the "quintessential social studies teacher." Throughout her distinguished career in education, she has provided excellent leadership and support for curriculum and instruction and student learning. She has earned great respect from her teaching colleagues, as well as building level and district leaders.
-- Board members saluted Gwinnett County Public Schools' 8th grade social studies program and the Social Studies program's curriculum leader, Dr. Debbie Daniell, on the state recognition earned by the program. The Georgia Council for the Social Studies recognized Gwinnett's 8th grade program as its 2005 Program of Excellence. The 8th grade social studies Academic Knowledge and Skills focus on the study of American history through the lens of Georgia history, thus providing students with a broad perspective on the impact of the significant events in American history on local issues, and vice versa. Under the leadership of Dr. Daniell, teachers are provided with professional learning opportunities, resources, and materials needed to assure student learning is achieved through engaging activities and critical thinking. The School Board commended Dr. Daniell and the system's 8th grade social studies teachers on their work to provide students with an interactive, comprehensive learning experience.
-- The Board honored Brookwood HS students Gaurav Gupta, Suman Nag, and Parth Tejani who won the southeast region championship in the Army's eCybermission Competition. This Web-based competition encourages students to use math, science, and technology to solve problems in their community. The students developed an energy-efficient fan to help remove steam from bathrooms, reducing the build-up of mildew, bacteria, and mold. The Brookwood team was selected for the honor, based on the originality, creativity, and application of the students' project.
-- The School Board recognized Meadowcreek ES on the school's recognition as a National Exemplary Learning Center for its efforts and quality assurance in serving low-performing students through mentoring and academic intervention. Principal Margaret Ackerman supports her program's mentoring program saying, "The HOSTS (Helping One Student To Succeed) program is making a difference at Meadowcreek Elementary. It has a positive impact on students academically and on our community as a whole." Accompanying Ms. Ackerman were HOSTS Teacher Anjela Bowers and HOSTS Paraprofessional Lisa Temples. Representatives from the HOSTS program told the Board that this award is not something they give out lightly, and that it has been a blessing to work with Meadowcreek ES. The award is presented to high-performing learning intervention programs using HOSTSLink Language Arts. The award is based on HOSTS Learning Quality Assurance Program that measures seven characteristics of an effective, structured mentoring program. During the 2004-05 school year, 65 students and 119 mentors participated in the school's HOSTSLink Language Arts program. The 119 mentors contributed approximately 1,518 hours. The learning system links student needs to individualized or "prescription-based" lesson plans, ensuring success for both the mentor and student. HOSTSLink is aligned with the school system's curriculum and national academic standards.
-- School Board members and CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks noted the upcoming retirement of Brookwood ES Principal Maxine Rithmire. In commending Ms. Rithmire for her service, Mr. Wilbanks said, "Thanks to a great person and a professional educator who has made a difference in the lives of thousands of children, their parents, and teachers." Ms. Rithmire expressed her gratitude to the Board, saying, "It's been a great experience working for Gwinnett County Public Schools."

Board prepares legislative priorities for the upcoming session
Each year, the Gwinnett County Board of Education communicates with members of the Gwinnett Delegation to the General Assembly those issues that are critical in improving the impact of educational programs. The school system's priorities for the upcoming session have been finalized and are available on the school system's Web site. Board members will present the approved legislative priorities to Gwinnett legislators at a breakfast meeting on November 30.

School system to participate in district accreditation program
The Board approved a recommendation to allow Gwinnett County Public Schools to participate in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) District Accreditation process for the purpose of better coordinating accreditation with ongoing system improvement initiatives and state mandates. Currently, all Gwinnett elementary and middle schools are on a five-year renewal schedule and Gwinnett high schools complete SACS CASI reviews on individual timelines.

Gwinnett County Online Campus continues to grow
Gwinnett County Online Campus, now in its sixth year of operation, has proven to be a successful, flexible delivery model for high school students. The program's growing enrollment, which served more than 2,800 students last school year, makes it one of the largest K-12 online education programs in the nation. Student completion rates remain above the average for K-12 online programs. Student achievement remains high, comparable to student achievement in traditional Gwinnett courses. Any Gwinnett County high school student may enroll in the program's more than 60 semester-long courses, offered as 7th period classes. Courses of study include mathematics, language arts, science, social studies, business/technical education, and foreign language. Students at the GIVE Center and homebound students also are served through the online delivery option. This school year, the school system's online campus is partnering with the new Georgia Virtual School. A regular schedule enrollment pilot, augmented by the Georgia Virtual School, began this fall with eight Gwinnett high schools enrolling 24 students in an online course as a portion of their regular school day.

Citizens and groups addressing the Board
-- Glenda Young and Betsy Buettner, Gwinnett County Association of Educators