Volume 38 , Number 1August 14, 2017

CEO/Superintendent’s Message:
We believe in public education… we believe in you!

Welcome to the start of another great school year in Gwinnett County Public Schools! Bringing greetings for a new school year to our employees and community is not something that is new to me. However, each year this message is one that excites me, as it raises our awareness about all of the good things that will come in the school year ahead. After an extraordinary year of winning a number of outstanding awards and accolades in 2016–17, we all might wonder, “How do we top last year’s performance?”
J. Alvin Wilbanks

My answer is simply this: We will do it because we can and know we must. More than 180,000 students and their families are counting on us. We may not garner as many prestigious honors this year, but we will continue our award-winning ways of ensuring every student an excellent education in a safe, supportive learning environment. In order to carry out our mission, we need many talented, skillful educators and staff members. That means you, our almost 22,000 veteran teachers and staff, and the more than 1,500 new teachers and hundreds of new support staff who join an outstanding work force that is devoted to students and their success. We are pleased to have you on board to help deliver on “The Promise of Gwinnett.”

That phrase is one you will hear repeatedly throughout the year. We launched the “Promise of Gwinnett” campaign in July 2016 and it has been enthusiastically embraced! So we are building on the theme for the coming year, and adding an important element… the word “Believe.” In Gwinnett County Public Schools we believe in the power of public education and in the promise found in each and every student. We also believe in you… our employees. Your hard work and commitment to our students and this organization are the drivers of our success. Because of you the school district was highly honored in the past, and most importantly, our students were well-served. I am confident we will continue that level of quality performance in the year ahead.

As anyone who works in Gwinnett County Public Schools knows, there are only two types of employees here… those who teach and those who support those who teach. Our roles in the school district may vary, but we all are connected to our core business of teaching and learning. Whatever work we do, it is essential to moving us closer to our vision of becoming a system of world-class schools.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education and I thank you for believing in our students and in Gwinnett County Public Schools! I look forward to working with you to ensure that our students have a great year and can look forward to a future full of promise!

J. Alvin Wilbanks

Here in Gwinnett County Public Schools,
we believe in the Promise…

the promise of our students to reach their potential,
the promises on which our employees deliver each and every day,
and the promises that we make and keep as an organization
to prepare our kids for their best future.
Throughout the school year, we’ll highlight promising initiatives
and share profiles of
students and staff members
who exemplify the
Promise of Gwinnett.

We believe!

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New faces in new places for 2017–18
Thirteen GCPS schools have a new principal at the helm this school year:

Christine Knox, Anderson-Livsey ES
Dr. Lesley Pendleton, Berkeley Lake ES
Shane Orr, Central Gwinnett HS
Dr. Craig Barlow, Gwin Oaks ES
Lisa Marie Johnson, Head ES
Kara Dutton, Jackson ES
Grelauris Calcaño, Lawrenceville ES
Dr. Tonya Burnley, Magill ES
Dr. Rodriguez Johnson, North Metro Academy of Performing Arts
Melanie Lee, Norton ES
Dr. Kelli McCain, Partee ES
Gretchen Runaldue, Peachtree ES
Rachel Ernst, Starling ES

Most of the leadership changes were the result of retirements or transfers, announced by the Board during the late spring and summer. Find more about these leaders in news releases posted April 24, May 12, May 19, May 31, June 6, and June 27.

Dr. Lesley Pendleton
Dr. Craig
Lisa Marie Johnson
Grelauris Calcaño
Dr. Tonya Burnley
Dr. Rodriguez Johnson

for 2017-18
Dr. Kelli
Gretchen Runaldue

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District leaders approved by Board during summer
The following central office appointments were announced during the summer:
New Position
Previous Position
Assistant Superintendent,
School Improvement
and Operations
Starling Elementary School
Assistant Superintendent,
School Improvement
and Operations
Norton Elementary School
Babak Mostaghimi
Executive Director
of Innovation and Program Learning, Curriculum and Instructional Support
Facilitator, Public Education
Leadership Project,
Harvard University
Markita T. Spikes
Director of School
Operations and Support,
School Improvement
and Operations
Assistant Principal,
South Gwinnett High School
Susan M. Potts-Datema
Director of Special Education–
Instructional Services,
Curriculum and
Instructional Support
Coordinator of Special Education,
Curriculum and Instructional Support
James “David” Hayes
Director of Technology,
Forensics, and Testing,
Information Management
and Technology
Vice President,
Reamer Associates, LLC
Arden Peterkin
Information Security Officer,
Information Management
and Technology
Vice President of Information Security Services, Reamer Associates, LLC
Shayna Fernandes
Customer Service and
Support Manager–
Central and School Support,
Information Management
and Technology
Technology Support Manager,
Information Management
and Technology

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What’s new for the 2017-18 school year?
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
New this year, GCPS launched a districtwide rapid notification system, expanded a number of instructional initiatives, added PBIS schools, changed meal charge procedures, introduced new entrees and sides in cafeterias, and will extend mentoring opportunities to female students.

Here are a few highlights for the coming year…

With SchoolMessenger, families now have an easy way to receive emergency alerts and event notifications from the district and their child’s school. Notifications, set to a parent’s preference, are available by phone call, email, and text. Staff members, including those without children in GCPS schools, also can receive notifications via SchoolMessenger.

SchoolMessenger for Employees
Staff members also can receive notifications. Employees should verify and update their contact information by going to the “About Me” tab on the Employee Portal. Select the “Name/Address Changes” option. Employees must designate a preferred phone number for phone call notifications. A mobile phone number must be on file to receive text notifications. To opt in for text messages, text Y or Yes to 67587 (GCPS’ designated “short code” number).

Instructional Initiatives
A number of instructional initiatives are expanding this year, including
STEM/STEAM instruction and project-based learning around the county,
Expanded learning options in robotics and FIRST LEGO League for Gwinnett elementary students,
Dual Language Immersion programs at six elementary schools,
The chance to explore the future with College and Career Academies at seven high schools,
The district’s partnership with Junior Achievement,
Blended and hybrid learning with school- and student-owned digital devices through the district’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative and eCLASS resources, and
Opportunities for students to get a jump start on college with the state’s Move On When Ready program, Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams, and the option to earn an International Baccalaureate diploma/certificate at Norcross HS and Shiloh HS.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
More schools are implementing PBIS Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports— a framework for creating a positive, caring school climate where all students are successful, academically and behaviorally.

School Nutrition Program
The district’s School Nutrition Program (SNP) is launching a new procedure for meal charges, setting a new limit on the amount students and adults are allowed to charge for meals— up to $11.25 for ES students, $12 for MS students, and $4 for HS students. Even though a student has met the charge limit, he or she will still have the opportunity to eat a designated alternate meal at no charge. Adults may charge a maximum of one day to their account. Note that supplemental and a la carte items may not be charged.

This year, SNP is featuring some tasty new menu items, including an international flair for entrees and sides and locally grown fruits and vegetables each day… all for the same low prices. Watch GCPS’ Facebook posts for featured menu items such as watermelon grown at nearby Jaemor Farms and the return of the ever-popular Asian Chicken Bites!

Community-Based Mentoring Program
GCPS’ Community-Based Mentoring Program is expanding to include both male and female mentees. Studies show that successful mentoring programs help students develop social skills, improve their school achievement and graduation rates, build character, and many other benefits. GCPS has served hundreds of young men through this successful program, now in its ninth year, and will expand to serve female students, starting in January. The district is seeking both male and female mentors for the coming year. Prospective mentors can learn more about how to become a mentor and find an application online.
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Give feedback on proposed instructional resources this fall
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
GCPS will conduct a review of proposed science resources Sept. 5-Oct. 6.
Both print and digital resources will be available at the ISC for staff, parents, and members of the community.
Review hours include weekday hours as well as a Saturday (Sept. 16) and evening (Sept. 14).

Starting Sept. 5, staff, parents, and members of the community are invited to participate in a review of proposed curriculum resources to provide their input. The public review runs until Oct. 6. GCPS holds an extensive review before adopting resources for classroom use. Resources submitted by publishers were reviewed prior to the pilot by parents, community members, teachers, and administrators for alignment with the school system’s Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum.

During the next phase of the district’s review process, a public review will take place allowing all GCPS staff and members of the Gwinnett community to review student textbooks, digital resources, and associated teacher resources for Science Education for grades 4, 5, 8, and high school (9–12).

The review is scheduled at the following times at GCPS’ J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center (ISC), located at 437 Old Peachtree Road NW in Suwanee.

Dates and hours are:
Weekday Hours: Tuesday, Sept. 5, to Friday, Oct. 6, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
Evening Hours: Thursday, Sept. 14, 5–8 p.m.
Saturday Hours: Saturday, Sept. 16, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Both print and digital resources will be provided for review in the hallway between Buildings 100 and 200 at the ISC during review hours. Based on all input gathered from this multi-step review, a recommendation will be made to the Gwinnett County Board of Education for adoption of resources. For more information about the instructional review process, please contact Jadd Jarusinski, director of Instructional Resources and Support, 678-301-6828.
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GCPS preparing for (near) total eclipse of the sun
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Gwinnett will experience a near-total eclipse of the sun on Aug. 21.
GCPS will delay dismissal by one hour that day.
Schools will offer safe and engaging instructional activities during the eclipse.
NASA has provided lots of online resources.

On August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. In Gwinnett, the near-total eclipse is expected to begin around 2:35 p.m. In order to help ensure the safe viewing for our students and a safe dismissal of students, Gwinnett County Public Schools will delay dismissal for all schools by one hour. Local schools are planning to make this day a special educational event for our students by organizing a safe and engaging viewing experience and instructional activities. (Only students with parent permission will participate in an outdoor viewing of the solar eclipse.)

Learn more about GCPS’ plans online. Find an Eclipse Kit and other great eclipse resources from NASA, including FAQs, maps, safety guidelines, and this eclipse fact sheet.
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Safety first!
Know bus rules to keep kids safe…
on the road, at bus stops, and in crosswalks

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
By state law, it's illegal to pass a stopped school bus on most types of roadways.
Gwinnett drivers should be aware of the rules of the road when it comes to a stopped school bus.
GCPS has stop-arm cameras on about 300 buses.
Violations of the law come with a hefty fine.

For the next 180 school days, yellow buses will be a familiar sight on Gwinnett roadways. To help keep children safe when they are loading or unloading school buses, state law makes it illegal to pass a stopped school bus on most types of roadways. If you need to brush up on the rules of the road when it comes to a stopped school bus, check out these tips and this video. GCPS has placed cameras on buses as a deterrent for drivers who illegally pass school buses. When the bus lights are flashing, the system automatically detects vehicles passing the stopped school bus, and records the violation. The violator will receive a citation in the mail. The district has approximately 300 buses with cameras this school year. Violations of the law come with a hefty fine, up to $1,000 for repeat offenders.
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Gwinnett County Transit needs your help to plan its future!
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Successful growth and development in gwinnett County have led to traffic congestion.
Gwinnett County Transit is conducting a comprehensive system review.
Citizens can give feedback at local events or through an online survey.

If you live and work in Gwinnett County, you are aware that decades of successful growth and development have led to unprecedented traffic congestion in our community. The county has rapidly changed, and its residents have diverse transportation needs and challenges. A robust, high-capacity transit system may be part of the response to these transportation concerns, so the County needs your help to identify how we should invest in this system for future success.

Gwinnett County Transit is embarking on its first-ever comprehensive system review, called Connect Gwinnett: Transit Plan. For this effort, the planning team will be at local events throughout the county to gather input. Community members also can take part in an online survey to share feedback on how to enhance the current transit system in the short term and what Gwinnett’s long-term transit future should look like.

So, get involved! Visit www.ConnectGwinnettTransit.com to learn about upcoming events and other project information. And, share your opinions and insights by taking an online survey by the Aug. 31 deadline.
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How to recognize phishing email messages and links
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Cybercriminals use "phishing" attacks via emails.
Phishing attacks attempt to steal sensitive information or infect a computer with malicious software.
Generic greetings, poor spelling and grammar, and threats or demands are among the clues that an email may be a phishing attempt.

Email is one of the primary ways we communicate. However, since so many people depend on email, it has become one of the primary attack methods used by cybercriminals. Phishing refers to an attack that uses email that tricks or fools you into taking an action, such as clicking on a link or opening an attachment. By falling victim to such an attack, you risk having your highly sensitive information stolen and/or your computer infected with malicious software.

So, think before you click that link!

Here are six clues that a message that you’ve received is a phishing scam:
  1. Generic greetings. Instead of using your name, the email uses a general salutation. Most companies or friends contacting you know your name.
  2. Spelling and bad grammar. Cybercriminals are not known for their grammar and spelling. Professional companies or organizations usually have a staff of copy editors that will not allow a mass email like this to go out to its users. If you notice mistakes in an email, it might be a scam.
  3. Beware of links in email. If you see a link in a suspicious email message, don’t click on it, especially if it looks odd or not official. One tip is to hover your mouse (but don’t click) over the link to see if the address that pops up matches the link that was typed in the message. On mobile devices, holding down your finger on a link gets the same pop-up. Suspicious links might also lead you to .exe files. These kinds of file can be used to spread malicious software.
  4. Threats or demands for immediate action. Have you ever received a threat that your account would be closed if you didn’t respond to an email message? The email message shown above is an example of the same trick. Cybercriminals often use threats that your security has been compromised.
  5. Attachments you were not expecting or an email that entices you to open the attachment.
  6. Spoofing popular websites or companies. Some phishing expeditions use graphics in email that appear to be connected to legitimate websites but actually take you to phony scam sites or legitimate-looking pop-up windows. Cybercriminals also use web addresses that resemble the names of well-known companies but are slightly altered.

So, what does a phishing email message look like? Here is an example of what you might see if you received a phishing scam in an email message. Note the highlighted words and phrases, and notice how they correspond with the phishing scam clues.

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EB Bulletin Board

What's new on the Bulletin Board?
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Check out Bulletin Board items for a last chance to apply for the GEMS Committee, a link to the staff calendar, budget news, the latest posts in Communiqué, Focus Moments from GCPS TV, the next Spotlight, Perks, JA volunteers, and commute alternatives
Serve on AKS review Committee… If you are interested in serving on the GEMS Oversight Committee— the group of community and school system representatives charged with the annual review of the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum— you have until Aug. 25 to apply. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 2. After the review, the committee recommends revisions and additions to CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks for adoption by the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Committee members serve three-year terms. Find an application on the website or in the Communications Database.
GCPS staff calendar at your fingertips… Aug. 7, the first day of school, was a red-letter day, of course, but what other dates need to be on your radar? Look for other important dates on the 2017–18 Staff Calendar, available on the GCPS website.
In case you missed it… BOE approves millage rate… As the school year ended, the Gwinnett County Board of Education adopted its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget in the amount of $2.09 billion, but the budget-setting process isn’t complete without approval of the millage rate. The Board maintained the current millage rate, adopting a rate of 21.85 mills on July 12. The millage rate reflects property tax paid by Gwinnett property owners at a rate of $21.85 per $1,000 valuation for a house or business.
New in Communiqué… The district’s digital magazine sports new content several times each week. The latest posts to the online Communiqué include:
BYOD reminders;
Details on our rapid notification system
News from Café Gwinnett;
Plans for the upcoming eclipse;
Word on the expanding mentoring program; and
An opportunity to share feedback on county transit plans.

Plus, you’ll find calendar updates, dates and deadlines on the Bulletin Board, and the latest episode of In5ive. Check the magazine frequently for the latest news! Story ideas? Great photos? Feedback? Let us know at communique@gwinnett.k12.ga.us.
Find latest Focus Moments on GCPS TV… These are just a few of the recent videos from GCPS TV:
— Lilburn MS Gear UP: Lilburn MS students are "gearing up" for graduation. 
— GCPS Summer Book Mobile: A former school bus turned library on wheels traveled through the Meadowcreek Cluster each week during the summer bringing books to Gwinnett students. 
— School Nutrition - Back to School: A new school year brings fresh new items to our school cafes
— New teacher Orientation 2017-18: Gwinnett County Public Schools welcomes more than 1,200 new teachers to the district. 
Something to celebrate?…
Share your good news with your colleagues in Spotlight . 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. The back-to-school issue will be available soon, with a fall issue planned for late October. Deadlines for the two newsletters are Aug. 15 and Oct. 10.
Stretch your budget with employee discounts… Special offers and discounts from local and national businesses are as close as a computer for GCPS employees. They're easy to find online at the Employee Perks tab on the GCPS Foundation web page. Also, watch for occasional “perks” newsletters with rundowns on special offers and the latest deals.
Be a JA volunteer!…
The Junior Achievement (JA) Discovery Center at Gwinnett is looking for JA volunteers to help provide hands-on experiences in personal finance and an exploration of the world of work for GCPS middle schoolers this year. No matter your profession, your life experiences qualify you to be a successful volunteer! Volunteers receive training (and a Chik-fil-A lunch) during their shift, which typically runs 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Potential volunteers can check the Volunteer Hub for available dates. Note that dates marked (Gwin) are for the GCPS center located on the campus of Discovery HS in Lawrenceville. Share this opportunity with friends and family or consider volunteering yourself. Send an e-mail to VolunteerGwinnett@georgia.ja.org to learn more.
Check out Georgia Commute Options…
Sign up for Georgia Commute Options programs to earn cash and win prizes for your commute!
— Find out how much you’re spending on your commute by using Georgia Commute Options Commute Calculator.
— Manage everything… from ride-matching to incentives.
— Use easy “drag and drop” features to log your commute.
— Set text or email log reminders for any day of the week and any time.
— Set alerts via text or email when new carpool or vanpool matches become available.
— Check current enrollment status in any of the Georgia Commute Options incentive programs.
— Find Park and Ride locations and transit routes in the Atlanta region.
— View or share public pages through Facebook or Twitter log-in.
And now logging your commutes is easier than ever with the GAcommuter mobile app for iPhone and for Android!

Visit GaCommuteOptions.com/gacommuter to learn more and download today.

Questions? Call us at 1-877-9-GA-OPTIONS.

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Let us know what you think
Click here to give us your feedback on Education Briefs.

Problems with the feedback link? If you recently upgraded your Microsoft Office software, you may get a message to set up Microsoft Outlook in order to send your feedback by e-mail. This occurs because the upgrade defaults your e-mail preference to Outlook. To reset your e-mail preference to Lotus Notes, with your browser open, go to Tools/Internet Options/Programs/Internet Programs/Set program access and computer defaults. Toggle Custom, and using pull-down menu, select Lotus Notes as e-mail default. Select OK and save. You may have to close your browser and reopen to update your e-mail default.
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    Last modified on 09/19/2017