Volume 38 , Number 2September 19, 2017

CEO/Superintendent’s Message

Public education serves as foundation for this great nation
J. Alvin Wilbanks
Last year, the Gwinnett County Board of Education revised its Core Beliefs and Commitments, restating its pledge to provide a world-class education that meets the needs of each individual student. In providing context for this commitment, the Board connected its belief in public education to foundational documents and principles of the United States of America, calling public education “an integral part of the seamless fabric of the American experience.”

While the Board’s Core Beliefs and Commitments refer specifically to ideas espoused in the Declaration of Independence, a number of foundational principles are found in the U.S. Constitution. This document stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to declare and maintain their liberties, freedoms, and unalienable rights. We teach about the Constitution and the laws of our nation throughout the school year, but it receives special emphasis during the week of Sept. 17-23, which is recognized as Constitution Week. This celebratory week, which begins this year on Citizenship Day, is a time to remind people that the Constitution is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation for our way of life.

At this time, when our country has been battered by Mother Nature and when the political climate can be quite contentious, it is good to review the opening words of the Constitution… “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” Two of those words— “more perfect”— referred to the delegates’ task of perfecting the framework of their new government. More than 200 years later, these words still hold a lesson for us. They are a vital reminder that perfection is an ever-evolving goal, one that the leaders of this country, our community, and our schools must constantly strive to attain.

Three other words— “We the People”— serve as a reminder that it is the people— all of us— who must come together to achieve our shared goals. In Gwinnett County Public Schools, we are striving to become a system of world-class schools… a more perfect school district, if you will. This focus on improvement requires attention from all of us. Thank you for your continued support of public education and our school district and your hard work on behalf of Gwinnett’s students. Individually, each of us can make a difference, but working together we can achieve great things. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks
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GCPS gets back to work after Irma
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Schools were closed for three days due to Hurricane Irma.
Students and staff will make up the missed days by attending school on the designated inclement weather make-up days in the calendarFeb. 23, March 9, and March 23.
12-month staff reported to work or took vacation or personal days during the school closures.

When the remnants of Hurricane Irma swirled through Gwinnett County earlier this month, the school district was ready to respond. Thanks to the efforts of Facilities and Operations staff members and local school administrators, the district was able to address power outages in our buildings with utility authorities and remove fallen trees and debris around schools. School resource officers also helped out emergency personnel in the communities they serve. With support from emergency response officials, we were able to ensure that our campuses were safe for students and staff when they returned to school on Sept. 14. The GCPS calendar for 2017–18 includes three inclement weather make-up days. For most employees, the three missed days— Sept. 11–13— will be made up on Feb. 23, March 9, and March 23. 12-month employees will use vacation or personal days to make up any work time missed during the school closures.
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2017–18 Local TOTYs

We ‘believe’ in our local school Teachers of the Year
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
A group of 138 educators were named as local school Teachers of the Year.
Semifinalists will be announced later this month.

Congratulations to Gwinnett’s 138 local school Teachers of the Year (TOTYs) who deliver on The Promise of Gwinnett every day, believing that our students have a world of possibilities ahead! These top-notch educators were selected by their peers to represent their school in the district’s annual TOTY contest. (TOTYs were not selected for The BRIDGE program housed at Northbrook Center and New Life Academy of Excellence.) A panel of former TOTYs and administrators will determine Gwinnett’s 25 semifinalists who will be named later this month. A second panel will review applications of the semifinalists to determine the six finalists, with an announcement set for mid-October. At a banquet on Nov. 9, level winners and the county Teacher of the Year will be announced.

Celebrate our top teachers with these online photo galleries, featuring photos submitted, posted, and tweeted by our schools! (We'll continue adding to our gallery as more photos come in.)

Watch for TOTY news in staff newsletters throughout the fall.

Congratulations to GCPS'
2017-18 Local School Teachers of the Year!
Shawn Kilpatrick of ADAPT/STRIVE
at Northbrook Center

Jason Bishop of Alcova ES
Kelli O’Loughlin of Alford ES
Jessica Askew of
Anderson-Livsey ES

Vilmerlly Cosme of Annistown ES
Nicole Trimble of Arcado ES
Megan Brockington of Archer HS
Tracey Gatling of Baggett ES
Courtlyn J. Harrison of Baldwin ES
Sherry Aglietti of Bay Creek MS
Hilda Hernandez of Beaver Ridge ES
Karen Camp of Benefield ES
Susan Chung of Berkeley Lake ES
Christina Cho of Berkmar HS
Janeda M. Oliver of Berkmar MS
Sandra K. Williams of Bethesda ES
Nancy A. McLellen of Britt ES
Catherine Kay of Brookwood ES
John Chvatal of Brookwood HS
Amy Howell of Burnette ES
Ebony Flott of Camp Creek ES
Julee Blair of Cedar Hill ES
Vivonetha Clarke of Centerville ES
Michele Pelletier of
Central Gwinnett HS

Jenny Chambless of
Chattahoochee ES

Melissa Tijerina of Chesney ES
Val Mickish of Coleman MS
Jason Appling of Collins Hill HS
Lisa Baker of Cooper ES
Chelsea Napier of Corley ES
Garnet Messer of Couch MS
Doris Reynierson of Craig ES
John Shaver of Creekland MS
Tonya Dudman of Crews MS
Christy McGill of Dacula ES
Daniel Garrett of Dacula HS
Debra Thomas of Dacula MS
Tabitha Brodnax of Discovery HS
Ryan Turner of Duluth HS
Ashley N. Drake of Duluth MS
Karen B. Martin of Duncan Creek ES
Amanda Dooley of Dyer ES
Hao Duong of Ferguson ES
Amanda Newton of Five Forks MS
Heather Cannon of Fort Daniel ES
Lauren C. Williams of
Freeman’s Mill ES

Dani Matzick of GIVE Center East
Susannah Young of
GIVE Center West

Karla McLendon of Grace Snell MS
Gabrielle Delgado of Graves ES
Melinda Anderson of Grayson ES
Niles Davis of Grayson HS
Tracy Pelinsky of Gwin Oaks ES
Michelle E. Jones of
Gwinnett Online Campus

Adam Brown of Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science,
and Technology

Thomas Woolfolk of Harbins ES
Camille Ayers of Harmony ES
Jedonia Cooper of Harris ES
Doug Doblar of Head ES
Lauren Dart of Hopkins ES
Anthony Dramis of Hull MS
Moonsun Jung of International
Transition Center at Norcross HS
Lisa Burkett of Ivy Creek ES
Meg Lovejoy of Jackson ES
Juliana O. Agbi of Jenkins ES
Todd Posey of Jones MS
Brittany R. Smith of Jordan MS
Joanie Sullivan of Kanoheda ES
Kelsey Lanham of Knight ES
Michelle Morea of Lanier HS
Carrie Lather of Lanier MS
Tonya May of Lawrenceville ES
Paige Brandon of Level Creek ES
Courtney Simpson of Lilburn ES
JaPrita Washington of Lilburn MS
Nisha Mehta of Lovin ES
Ana Price of Magill ES
Lindsey McKinney of Mason ES
Barbara Hoag of
Maxwell HS of Technology

Dr. Frank Jones of McConnell MS
Heather Glenn of McKendree ES
Regan Jubirt of Meadowcreek ES
Shawn M. Merchant of
Meadowcreek HS

Nora Neff of Mill Creek HS
Lori Laws of Minor ES
Tammy McIntyre of Moore MS
Jodi Chamberlain of
Mountain Park ES

Jane Boyett of Mountain View HS
Lynn Walton of Mulberry ES
Kelsey Lynne Anderson of Nesbit ES
Shefali Desai of Norcross ES
Amy R. Crisp of Norcross HS
Carolyn Renner of North Gwinnett HS
Cheri Nations of North Gwinnett MS
Katherine Ludy of North Metro Academy of Performing Arts
Maegen Carroll of Northbrook MS
Kathy Spruiell of Norton ES
Mary Kay Potlock of
Oakland Meadow School

Carl Rieke of Osborne MS
Matthew Moon of Parkview HS
Kate Osemwengie of Parsons ES
Rashada Potter-Johnson of
Partee ES

Jennifer Blodgett of Patrick ES
Erin Greenstein of Peachtree ES
Teri Schneider of
Peachtree Ridge HS

Felicia Alston of Pharr ES
Walt Henry of Phoenix HS
Emily E. Bennett of Pinckneyville MS
Sarah Tiller of Puckett’s Mill ES
Karen Slough of Radloff MS
Chanda Robinson of Richards MS
Beth Stanley of Riverside ES
Heather Stark of Roberts ES
Jenny Ethridge of Rock Springs ES
Robin Garrett of Rockbridge ES
Angela Nichols of Rosebud ES
Julie Ann Nelson of Shiloh ES
Brenda K. King of Shiloh HS
Patrick A. Reifsteck of Shiloh MS
Dr. Maxine Amritt of Simonton ES
Yasaman Dehnavi of Simpson ES
Kenneth Golden of Snellville MS
Kimya Rainge of South Gwinnett HS
Ikwo Poindexter of Starling ES
Sophia Kim of Stripling ES
Beth K. Wilson of Sugar Hill ES
Alicia Cooke of Summerour MS
Brittani Martin of Suwanee ES
John G. Renfroe of Sweetwater MS
Deepa Goyal of Sycamore ES
Mindy Black of Taylor ES
Jessie Kelly of Trickum MS
Hillery N. Cambre of Trip ES
Jason Hurd of Twin Rivers MS
Christy Tate of Walnut Grove ES
Kim Beck of White Oak ES
Becca Menchaca of Winn Holt ES
Jennifer K. Jones of
Woodward Mill ES

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EB News

Employees invited to give feedback on
school district's strategic direction

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
GCPS employees have the opportunity to give feedback on the district's direction in the future.
The short survey was sent to employees via their work email address.
Those without a work email address will receive the survey in printed form.

In 2014, Gwinnett County Public Schools revisited its vision, mission, and strategic goals, ensuring that the foundational components that have served the district well over the years were still relative to the school system and the community it serves today. In addition, in 2016, the Gwinnett County Board of Education revised its Core Beliefs and Commitments, restating its commitment to providing a world-class education that meets the needs of individual students, to a sharp focus on the traditions and values at the heart of our constitutional democracy and the rule of law, and to the civic virtues that bind together communities of many cultures, faiths, viewpoints, interests, and histories into a unified nation. And in the coming months, our school system will begin the work of updating the Strategic Priorities for 2010–2020 to move the district forward into the next decade.

Key to GCPS’ ongoing focus on its strategic direction are efforts to gather feedback from key stakeholders, including employees. That’s where you come in... On Sept. 18, all employees received an email invitation to take part in an online survey. (If you do not have a district email address, a hard copy of the survey is headed your way.) The 22-question survey will provide the district with valuable and actionable data about the alignment of the GCPS team to the vision, mission, and strategic direction of the school system. We hope you will take the time to share your thoughts through this organizational alignment survey. Be engaged and be a part of setting the direction for the future of GCPS!
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District completes implementation of Phase 1 of Performance-Based Compensation System, continues Phase 2 work
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
In August, the district transitioned to the new teacher salary schedule (Phase 1) under the Performance-Based Compensation System.
Phase 2 of the roll-out for the compensation system will focus on Performance-Based Awards.
The first awards will be distributed in fall of 2019 and will be based on 2018-19 data.
The awards will be distributed to top teachers at the district level and at the school level, providing a financial award above and beyond their salary.

This school year, GCPS rolled out its new Performance-Based Compensation System for Teachers which rewards individual teachers who meet expectations on their performance evaluations (Phase 1) and will eventually reward top-performing teachers with financial awards (Phase 2).

In August of 2017, GCPS transitioned to the Performance-Based Teachers Salary Schedule. This new salary schedule acknowledges performance— not time on the job- as the measure for advancement on the salary schedule. Under the new schedule, employees paid on the teacher salary schedule advance one performance step for the next contract year upon achieving a rating of “Proficient” or higher on the annual Teacher Assessment on Performance Standards (TAPS) or equivalent annual evaluation tool. The transition to the new salary schedule has gone smoothly and every affected staff member saw an increase in base compensation during the move to the new schedule.

Phase 2 in the roll-out of the compensation system will focus on Performance-Based Awards. These awards— which will be distributed to the top 10% of eligible teachers in the district as well as the top 20% of teachers at each individual school— recognize that GCPS has great teachers in every school. Recipients of the awards will be determined using four metrics: professional growth (15%), a teacher’s rating on the annual TAPS evaluation (40%), student growth (35%), and the local school Weighted School Assessment (WSA) (10%). Regarding the student growth metric, some questions have been raised about what year’s assessment data will be used to determine the first awards. GCPS is using assessment data from 2015–16, 2016–17, and 2017–18 to validate, model and test award metrics. Assessment data from 2018–19 will be the first “live” data that will be used to determine the Student Growth metric. The first performance-based awards will be distributed in the fall of 2019 based on the 2018–19 data.

Look for more updates in the future as we move forward with Phase 2 and our work to provide Gwinnett’s top teachers with a financial award above and beyond their salary.
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Post-Labor Day count just .46% below forecast
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The post-Labor day count of 179,359 students is less than 1% below the projection.
The district’s largest traditional schools, by level, are Jackson ES, North Gwinnett MS, and Norcross HS.

The final enrollment count of 179,359 students on Sept. 5 showed the district’s Planning Department was 827 below the post-Labor Day projection. That’s less than half of 1% (-0.46%) below the expected 180,186 count! Since the district’s first count on Aug. 8, GCPS enrollment has grown by 7,069 students. Student enrollment typically fluctuates throughout the year. The official October FTE count will be taken Oct. 3. The district’s largest traditional schools, by level, are Jackson ES, North Gwinnett MS, and Norcross HS.
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Employees can Branch Out! for anytime, anywhere
learning and personal enrichment with no fees or fines

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Branch Out! is a partnership between GCPS and Gwinnett County Public Library that gives students and staff access to county library resources with no fines.
Employees can access a wide range of free professional learning tools and options for personal enrichment.
Resources include video-based courses, research databases, audio books, digital magazines, and mobile apps.
Free library cards are available for all employees, even those who don't live in the county.

Available resources for GCPS students and staff keep getting better and better, thanks to a partnership between the school district and the county library system. Now in its second year, the Branch Out! program provides both students and staff members with access to the extensive print and digital resources of Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL)— available at any one of 15 branches around Gwinnett and online— all with no fines! And employees who take advantage of Branch Out! now have access to a wide range of no-cost professional learning tools through Lynda.com and Gale Courses as well as money-saving options for personal enrichment.

— GCPL gives users access to thousands of video-based courses in business, technology, and creative skills from the Lynda.com catalog. Taught by industry experts, classes cover topics such as communication, conflict resolution, effective listening, project management, time management, and a host of software programs. Employees can access and complete the free courses at their convenience— anytime, anywhere with an Internet connection.

Gale Courses offers a vast digital archive, including courses, research databases, reference books, and more. Instructor-led courses are available entirely online at no cost. The highly interactive courses run for six weeks and new sessions begin every month. Course categories range from business and technology to courses for classroom educators to grant development and other types of writing.

— For leisure and personal enrichment, cardholders will find a wide selection of print resources, audio books, e-books, digital magazines, and mobile apps for iOS and Android devices— whether you want to read the latest thriller, learn a new language, or do research for a student lesson or your own studies.

And getting your card is easy! Register online or at a county library branch. For a GCPS staff card, you must verify your application by visiting a library branch and providing a school or district ID card.

All school district employees are eligible for a free Branch Out! library card, even if they live in another county!

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PSAT ahead for district’s 8th and 10th graders
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
GCPS 10th graders will take the PSAT/NMSQT on Oct. 11. Juniors can pay to take the test to qualify to enter scholarship programs.
Gwinnett 8th graders will take a version of the PSAT on Oct. 25. The PSAT 8/9 helps determine what students need to work on to be ready for college.
Students can prepare with personalized practice through Khan Academy, a free online resource.

On Oct. 11, GCPS 10th graders will take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), a standardized assessment that provides practice for the SAT college-admissions exam. Students who take the test as a junior can enter National Merit Scholarship Corporation scholarship programs and gain access to college and career planning tools.

GCPS students in 8th grade have an early opportunity to set their course for college and careers when they take the PSAT 8/9 on Oct. 25. This national assessment helps determine what students need to work on most so that they are ready for college when they graduate from high school. It’s part of the College Board family of assessments that includes the SAT and the PSAT/NMSQT. The PSAT 8/9 tests the same skills and knowledge as the SAT and PSAT— reading, writing and language, and mathematics— but in a way that makes sense for younger students and with a focus on the everyday skills and knowledge that they’ve learned in school and will need to succeed in college.

Students can prepare for both the PSAT and the SAT with personalized practice recommendations from Khan Academy, a free online resource. To get started, students should create a Khan Academy account at satpractice.org, then link their Khan Academy and College Board accounts.
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GCPS’ ACT scores outpace state, nation
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Gwinnett students outperformed their peers in Georgia and the U.S. on the ACT, a college-entrance exam.
Last year’s test-takers posted an average composite score of 22.6 out of a possible 36, compared to 21.4 for the state and 21.0 for the nation.

Gwinnett students continue to outperform their peers in the state and across the nation on the ACT Assessment, a college-entrance exam that assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to successfully complete college-level work. The ACT covers four skill areas— Englishmathematicsreading, and science— with multiple-choice tests. An optional writing test measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.

In Gwinnett, last year’s test-takers posted an average composite score of 22.6 out of a possible 36, compared to 21.4 for the state and 21.0 for the nation. This past year, 4,953 students took the test. A review of local school results show that eight Gwinnett schools increased average composite scores by .5 or more between 2015–16 and 2016–17: Central Gwinnett; Collins Hill; Discovery; Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology; Lanier; Mill Creek; Shiloh; and South Gwinnett. Other schools experiencing an increased average composite score include Archer HS, Berkmar HS, Brookwood HS, and Peachtree Ridge HS. Scores at three other high schools— Dacula, Mountain View, and North Gwinnett— remained unchanged.
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School and district leaders approved by Board
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The Board approved a new division head and filled other central office vacancies.
In addition, a principal has been named for the new Paul Duke STEM HS, a themed school that will open in the Norcross Cluster in August of 2018.

The following school and central office appointments were announced in August and September:
New Position
Current/Previous Position
George W. “Walt” Martin
Chief Operations Officer,
Facilities and Operations
Interim Chief Operations Officer,
Facilities and Operations
(previously Executive Director
of Human Resources Systems,)
Paul Duke STEM HS
(opening Aug. 2018)
Director of Science,
Curriculum and Instructional Support
Assistant Superintendent for High Schools,
School Improvement and Operations
Principal, Lanier HS
Assistant Superintendent for High Schools,
School Improvement and Operations
Principal, Duluth HS
Executive Director of
Human Resources Systems,
Human Resources and Talent Management
Interim Executive Director of
Human Resources Systems,
Human Resources and Talent Management
(previously Director of Compensation
and Classification)

Dr. Wetherington will move into his new role as the STEM-themed school prepares to open in the Norcross Cluster in August of 2018. Dr. Gresham and Mr. Smith will take on their new posts to fill vacancies left by Ed Shaddix who moved to another district and Debbie Dees who will serve a different group of schools.

Dr. Jonathon Wetherington
Dr. Reuben Gresham
Hunter Blackburn

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GCPS to expand dual language opportunities
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
GCPS currently has six schools that offer a dual language immersion (DLI) program in which students spend half their day learning in English and half the day learning in a target language (either Spanish or French).
In 2018-19, Level Creek ES and Meadowcreek ES will launch Spanish DLI programs with kindergartners. (The program builds by one grade each year.)
The following year, Parsons ES will start GCPS' first Korean DLI program.

In 2014, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) launched its Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program in three elementary schools, offering Spanish at Annistown ES and Bethesda ES and French at Trip ES. Since then, three additional elementary schools— Baldwin, Camp Creek, and Ivy Creek— have started the program, all with Spanish language offerings. The Gwinnett County Board of Education has announced that three more schools will be joining the DLI family over the next two years bringing the total to nine schools. Level Creek ES and Meadowcreek ES will offer Spanish to kindergartners, beginning in August of 2018. The following school year, Parsons ES will launch the district’s first Korean DLI program.

“The success of our current programs and increased parental interest in the DLI program is driving this expansion,” says Dr. Jon Valentine, director of Foreign Language. Dr. Valentine sees the district becoming a model for development of advanced-level language proficiency through DLI. “It will provide a competitive advantage for our students, our schools, and the communities they serve,” he says.

Gwinnett uses a research-based, 50-50, two-teacher model that calls for students to spend half of their day learning in English and the other half learning content areas in the other language. Through the program, students will develop proficiency in both English and a new language, while ensuring both academic achievement and intercultural competence. The program launches with kindergarten students and then expands each year at a school to the next grade level as the cohort of students move through elementary school. Gwinnett’s first DLI schools now are serving students in grades K–3. The district will have a continued need for bilingual teachers certified in elementary education as the program expands.
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Exhibitors needed for Nov. 16 Career Connections event
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The district will hold its 4th annual Career Connections event on Nov. 16 for 8th graders attending schools that feed into College and Career Academy high schools.
GCPS is seeking exhibitors to support the event.

To better prepare our students for a smoother transition from high school to college and career, GCPS will conduct the district's 4th annual Career Connections Exhibition for the district’s Career Academy 8th graders on Nov. 16. The event will bring together close to 200 exhibitors from across the career spectrum for “show and tell” interviews and activities. GCPS is seeking business people who can provide engaging presentations about what they do and what it takes to pursue a successful career in their field. There's no cost for exhibitors to participate. If you know of potential exhibitors, point them to an exhibitor registration form online. They can learn more about the event by checking out this video from the first Career Connections event and an article about last year's event. Nearly 5,000 middle schoolers will participate this fall. Students from 11 middle schools feed into our seven College and Career Academy high schools: Berkmar, Central Gwinnett, Discovery, Lanier, Meadowcreek, Shiloh, and South Gwinnett. Questions? Contact Billy Sayers in the Office of Academies and Career and Technical Education at 678-301-7050, or email william_sayers@gwinnett.k12.ga.us.
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JA Discovery Center:
Help coach students through a real-life financial simulation

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
GCPS 6th and 8th graders participate in JA Biztown and JA Finance Park through Gwinnett's Junior Achievement Discovery Center.
JA is seeking volunteers, and your life experiences qualify you as a successful volunteer.
Find more information and available dates on the JA website.

Every child has a dream, a vision for what his or her future can be. With the community’s support, we provide students with opportunities to make those dreams a reality. Here at Gwinnett’s Junior Achievement (JA) Discovery Center, 6th and 8th grade students participate in an immersive simulation that enables them to develop skills to successfully navigate today’s complex economic environment and discover how decisions made today can have an impact on tomorrow.

JA BizTown creates an opportunity for 6th grade students to interact within a simulated economy and take on the role of citizen, consumer, and employee. During the visit to JA BizTown, teams of six to eight students work together to manage their assigned business with the goal of generating a profit. Students also earn “paychecks” that they can use to purchase products and services from the different stores to practice basic personal financial management.

Imagine a generation of young people armed with the confidence, knowledge and capabilities to take control of their financial futures, launch their careers, and achieve their dreams. Volunteers in JA Finance Park mentor and guide a small group of 8th grade students, helping them make the connection between their education and career, career and income, and ultimately their income and future lifestyle.

As a volunteer, you will share your life experiences to mentor and coach students through their day and help to create a more authentic simulation. No matter your profession, your life experiences qualify you to be a successful volunteer! Online, find more information and register as a volunteer! Share this volunteer opportunity with friends and family or consider volunteering yourself. Questions about volunteering at the JA center? Contact Hunter Pierce by email at hpierce@georgia.ja.org. The JA Center is on the campus of Discovery HS, located at 1333 Old Norcross Road in Lawrenceville.
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Mandatory Reporting:
Suspected abuse must be reported by staff, volunteers

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
By law, school employees and volunteers are required to report known or suspected abuse or neglect of children and youth.
A report fills the mandated reporter's obligation.
Failure to report is a misdemeanor with a fine and jail time.
Learn more in the PD&E tool on the Portal.

School employees and volunteers play an important and state-mandated role when abuse or neglect of a student is suspected. Under Georgia law, all school personnel and school volunteers— including community coaches and parents helping in the classroom— are required to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect of children and youth (18 and under) to authorities for investigation. Staff members and volunteers must report suspicions to their principal or supervisor who is required to make a report within 24 hours to the appropriate agency for investigation.

A staff member or volunteer who makes an initial report to the appropriate personnel has fulfilled his or her obligation under the law. Failure to report is a misdemeanor and carries a penalty of jail time and a fine. That said, mandated reporters are immune from civil or criminal liability if their report was made in “good faith,” even if proved incorrect. Find training for mandatory reporters in the PD&E tool in the Employee Portal. On the Georgia DOE website, scroll down for additional resources to help prevent child abuse and combat human sex trafficking.
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HR and Benefits Briefs

Window for Open Enrollment available Oct. 16 to Nov. 3
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Open Enrollment is scheduled for Oct. 16 to Nov. 3.
Elections will be effective Jan. 1.
Watch for more information soon.

Open Enrollment (OE) for Plan Year 2018 runs from Monday, Oct. 16, through Friday, Nov. 3. Changes made during OE are effective Jan. 1, 2018, and will be in effect for the 2018 calendar year. OE changes to health insurance are made through the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) OE website. OE changes to GCPS benefits are made via the Online Benefits System, located in the Employee Portal. Before making your benefit selections, be sure to review SHBP and GCPS plan information, available later in the fall. In the coming weeks, look for further information from the Benefits and Leave Administration office and your Local Site Benefits Representative (LSBR).

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Compliance videos, ethics reminders
found on district's Employee Portal

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
HR compliance videos are available online.
Oct. 31 is the deadline to watch the required videos.
GCPS will continue a focus on ethical standards with a monthly pop-up on the Employee Portal.

Human Resources and Talent Management requires annual online training for staff to ensure that employees know and follow district guidelines and legal requirements when it comes to ethics, sexual harassment, and other key policies and procedures. The videos and sign-offs are found in the Employee Portal. Click on the PD&E icon on the left-hand navigation column. On the “Welcome” page, users will see “HR Compliance 2017–2018” listed under “My Courses.” The deadline to complete is Oct. 31.

Also through the portal, GCPS staff members receive a monthly review of the ethical guidelines under which district employees operate. On the first Monday of each month, a pop-up will appear when an employee logs into the portal. The monthly review will focus on one of the 11 standards that make up the The Code of Ethics for Educators adopted by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. The online focus helps educate and remind staff on the professional behavior expected for those of us responsible for the health, safety, and general welfare of Gwinnett schoolchildren.
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Employee, GCPS must agree for release from contract
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Employees on contract may not resign unless there is mutual agreement with the BOE.
Requests for release must be submitted in writing with support documentation.

A certificated employee who has accepted a contract of employment for 2017–18 may not resign after June 1, 2017, unless there is mutual agreement between the employee and the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Requests for release received after June 1 will be considered only in circumstances beyond the employee’s control or in an emergency situation. A written request, including any supporting documentation, must be MAILED to Dr. Linda Anderson, Associate Superintendent, Division of Human Resources and Talent Management, Gwinnett County Public Schools, 437 Old Peachtree Road, NW, Suwanee, GA 30024-2978.
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Employees can earn bonus for referrals for SLP, driver vacancies
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Employees can earn a referral bonus for recommending qualified candidates who are hired as speech-language pathologists or bus drivers.

GCPS employees can earn a referral incentive bonus by recommending qualified candidates who are hired by the district in two high-need areas:
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP): SLP candidates must be new employees (not returning or contracted employees) and a direct hire to GCPS rather than through a placement agency. The current employee must send an email to GCPSteach@gwinnett.k12.ga.us with SLP Referral in the subject line prior to the candidate’s hire date. The SLP candidate must list the name of the referring employee in the referral sections of the online application. A $500 incentive will be included in the referring employee’s paycheck once the SLP candidate is hired.
Bus Drivers: GCPS will pay a $125 referral fee to current employees who refer prospective drivers who are hired and complete training and 60 days on the job. To qualify as a referral, the new driver must list the referring employee on the referral form that new drivers receive on their first day of training. Referral bonuses will be included in the referring employee’s paycheck once the new driver has successfully completed training and has two months on the job.
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GCPS seeks qualified substitute teachers for 2017–18
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The district is looking for qualified substitute teachers.
Teacher certification is not required but candidates must have at least some college, complete training, and meet other requirements.
Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
Pay for substitutes has increased to $89 per day ($99 for long-term subs).

While the school year has begun, the Substitute Management Office continues to recruit and hire qualified substitute teachers for the 2017–18 school year. Substitute teachers do not have to be certified to teach. However, they must have completed a minimum of 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours from a college approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. Candidates also must complete the GCPS Substitute Teacher Training Program (if they do not possess a valid or expired professional teaching certificate). Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the school year, and substitute teacher orientation sessions are conducted weekly at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center in Suwanee. Pay rates for substitute teachers have increased for the 2017–18 school year to $89 per day for regular substitute teaching and $99 per day for long-term substitute teaching. Refer quality candidates to the Substitute Management Office. Candidates can learn more by calling 678-301-6140 or visiting www.gcpsjobs.org for information and an application. Informational cards about substitute teaching also will be mailed to Local School Substitute Representatives (LSSRs) in September for staff members to share with interested candidates.
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Know how to protect yourself from email scams
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
A spear phishing scam has a specific target.
Stop and carefully examine a suspicious email.
Recognize the red flags that indicate you may be the target of a spear phishing attack.
Report the attack and follow the appropriate procedures.

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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 with the latest on... Atlanta Families' Awards nominations, the ongoing resource review, Communiqué stories, last chance to register for mentoring golf fundraiser, the new mobile app from the Foundation, local school anniversaries, the extended deadline on the county's transit survey, emergency preparedness, recent GCPS TV videos, the next Spotlight, Perks, the approaching flu season, and commute alternatives

Nominate an exceptional educator for Atlanta Families' Awards… Atlanta Families’ Awards aims to elevate public education by identifying excellent educators and empowering them to expand their impact. Several GCPS teachers have earned this recognition so make sure to nominate an exceptional educator before the deadline on Sept. 30.
Share feedback on proposed resources… GCPS staff, along with parents and community members, are encouraged to review and give feedback on proposed curriculum resources for science instruction in grades 4, 5, 8, and 9–12. The public review of the proposed print and digital resources will be held at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center through Oct. 6.
Find the latest from Communiqué… Communiqué is the district’s digital magazine, sporting new content several times a week. Recent and upcoming posts include a celebration of our local school TOTYs, features on some mystery-solving forensics students and a tech solution to hunger, stories on hurricane relief and exemplary staff members, news on STEM innovation and high-achieving students, plus calendar updates, dates and deadlines on the Bulletin Board, and the latest episode of In5ive!

Story ideas? Great photos? Feedback? Let us know at communique@gwinnett.k12.ga.us.
Sept. 22 deadline nears for golf tourney… Mentors and community leaders are hitting the links at the Bear’s Best Atlanta Golf Course to benefit GCPS’ Community-Based Mentoring Program. The 8th annual golf tournament is set for Oct. 9. Registration is open for both golfers and sponsors at all levels so pass the word. The deadline to enter is Sept. 22. For more information about the tournament or the mentoring program, check out the Mentoring Program web page or call 770-277-4485.
Foundation launches app… If you’re looking for ways to support Gwinnett students, your contribution to the GCPS Foundation Fund, Inc., can make a difference as we work to enrich and enhance education in the classroom and expand opportunities for our students heading to college. So far in 2017, the Foundation has raised more than $455,000, providing support for every school as well as student scholarships. And making a difference just got easier for our community with the launch of the GCPS Foundation mobile app! With the app, users can make a donation, purchase event tickets, catch up on Foundation news, and contact the Foundation team. GCPS employees have an extra bonus… easy access to employee perks and discounts via their smartphone! Download the app today for your iOS or Android device.
Anniversary festivities on the calendar… Several schools have milestones coming up this fall, including:
Patrick ES: Patrick’s 10th anniversary will be celebrated at the school’s annual Bobby Patrick Night, set for Sept. 29, 4:30–7 p.m.
Central Gwinnett HS: Once a Black Knight, always a Black Knight! Central Gwinnett’s 60th anniversary celebration begins with homecoming festivities on Oct. 6 at 4 p.m., with a formal program on Oct. 8 at 2:45 p.m. Alums should RSVP online by Oct. 2.
Walnut Grove ES: 25th anniversary festivities are planned for Oct. 20. Part of the annual EagleFest, the program starts at 5 p.m. RSVP online by Oct. 3.
County extends deadline for transit feedback… Gwinnett County Transit is asking the community to participate 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 the project, and share your opinions and insights by taking an online survey by the extended deadline, Sept. 25.
Disasters don’t plan ahead. YOU CAN.… September is National Preparedness Month. And the importance of being prepared is especially timely in the wake of recent weather events. Simply put, when disaster strikes, there’s no time to prepare. Ready Georgia can help us prepare for the unexpected with a number of tools and tips, including an updated mobile app for your iOS or Android device. Online, you can learn how to build your own Ready Kit, develop a communications plan to connect with family and friends in an emergency, and find pertinent preparedness information.
Find latest Focus Moments on GCPS TV… These are just a few of the recent videos from GCPS TV:
— Eclipse 2017: The 2017 solar eclipse inspired teaching and learning across the district. 
— Dacula Class Ring Returned: A Dacula HS graduate was reunited with a long-long ring… decades later.
— Trickum MS Summer Reading Pep Rally: Trickum celebrated summer reading with a pep rally and prizes.
— Sweetwater Scholarship Fund: The middle school launched a scholarship for Berkmar HS seniors who also attended Sweetwater MS
— Berkmar MS Accelerates Learning: Berkmar students are getting a head start on their high school careers by taking accelerated courses in 8th grade.
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 is available online. The deadline for the next issue is Oct. 10.
Stretch your budget with employee discounts… Special offers and discounts from local and national businesses are as close as a computer or smartphone for GCPS employees. They're easy to find online at the Employee Perks tab on the GCPS Foundation web page or via the new app for your phone, available from Google Play and the iTunes App Store. Also, watch for occasional “perks” newsletters with rundowns on special offers and the latest deals.
Practice healthy habits during flu season!… The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are gearing up for the flu season. Most seasonal flu activity occurs between October and May, and peaks between December and February. Healthy habits recommended by the CDC include getting a flu vaccination for yourself and your family members, especially those with asthma and other chronic illnesses. For more on seasonal flu, check out news and information from the CDC and find resources about infection prevention, flu preparedness, and more on the Health and Wellness page on the GCPS website, including Healthy Habits for cold and flu season.
Check out Georgia Commute Options… Sign up for Georgia Commute Options programs, find carpool partners, and log your commute trips to earn cash and win prizes online. On the Commute Options website, you can:
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 e-mail log reminders for any day of the week and any time;
Set alerts via text or e-mail 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; and
View or share public pages through Facebook or Twitter log-in.

A mobile-friendly version of the system is available so users can log commute trips on the go. Go to the website to learn how to improve the way you get to and from work. If you have any questions, call 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 11/06/2017