Volume 38 , Number 4November 30, 2017

GCPS posts strong results on GaDOE’s index of readiness
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Gwinnett schools posted scores above the state average on CCRPI, the state's index of readiness for college and careers.
The district average for HS was above last year's GCPS average, while overall scores for the other levels decreased slightly compared to the previous year.
A total of 38 schools scored above 90, while four schools scored above 100 on the index. Many schools saw an increase from the previous year.

The state released its 2017 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores for Georgia schools earlier this month. Gwinnett County’s public schools continue to score above state averages on the CCRPI Index. Gwinnett elementary schools scored 82.3 compared to the state score of 72.9. The Gwinnett middle school score is 80.9 compared to the state score of 73. And the Gwinnett high school score of 80.9 is above the state score for Georgia high schools of 77.

The overall high school single score for Gwinnett high schools of 80.9 for 2016–17 was an increase from the previous year, while the overall scores for elementary and middle schools in Gwinnett decreased slightly. Despite the decrease in the overall score for elementary schools, both the achievement and progress points earned increased. The middle school score dropped to 80.9 from 81.4, but also showed increases in the achievement and progress components.

In looking at individual school results for Gwinnett, there were a number of highlights:
A total of 38 Gwinnett schools (more than a quarter of the schools in the district) earned CCRPI scores of 90 or greater, with Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST); and Simpson, Level Creek and Riverside elementary schools scoring greater than 100.
A group of 23 schools had gains of five points or more on their single scores. Gwinnett Online Campus’ elementary score increased by 15 points, while its high school score increased by 11.6 points. Meadowcreek HS’ score improved by 12.1 points.
The achievement score makes up 50 points of the CCRPI score and takes into consideration student achievement scores to assess college and career readiness through Content Mastery, Post Readiness, and Graduation Rate. Eight GCPS schools earned 45 or more points for Achievement— GSMST, North Gwinnett HS, North Gwinnett MS, Osborne MS, Level Creek ES, Riverside ES, Simpson ES, and Suwanee ES.
Gains of 2 points or more were seen by 32 GCPS schools. Of these 32 schools, nine earned 3 to 4 points more than they did the previous year for the Achievement category.

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School calendars set for 2018–19 and 2019–20 school years
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Calendars for the next two years are now available.
The first day for 2018-19 will be Aug. 6, and the last day will be May 22.
The calendars include a short fall break in October.

You can start planning your future vacations… At the Nov. 16 School Board meeting, district officials presented calendars for the next two school years— 2018–19 and 2019–20.

The two calendars have similar features, including holidays at Labor Day in September and MLK Day in January, a short fall break in October, a week-long break at Thanksgiving, up to two weeks for students at winter break, spring break, and two dates in the spring scheduled as inclement weather make-up days (or student/staff holidays if not needed).

The first day of school for the 2018–19 school year will be Monday, Aug. 6, with an ending date of Wednesday, May 22. Families have a five-day weekend in early October with a fall break starting Thursday, Oct. 4, and students returning to school on Tuesday, Oct. 9. (Teachers will have a professional development day on Monday, Oct. 8.)

The district also has a student and staff holiday set for Tuesday, Nov. 6, on Election Day. Many schools are used as polling places and experience high traffic during presidential and gubernatorial election years, so calendars are adjusted to be closed on “even” years. Georgians will select a new governor in 2018.

Winter break for students will start on Friday, Dec. 21, and students will be back in the classroom on Thursday, Jan. 3. (Teachers return Jan. 2.) Make-up days are set for Feb. 15 and March 29, both Fridays. (They would be holidays if not needed.) In addition, a student holiday is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 18, a staff development day for teachers. Spring Break is April 1-5.

Staff development days for teachers are scheduled for July 30, July 31, Aug. 1–3, Oct. 8, Jan. 2, Feb. 18, and May 23–24. The district’s 12-month employees have the following holidays scheduled for the 2018–19 school year: July 4, Sept. 3, Nov. 22–23, Dec. 24–31, Jan. 1, Jan. 21, April 5, and May 27.

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Board approves district, school leaders in October, November

The following school and central office appointments were announced during October and November:
New Position
Previous Position
Dr. Debbie Durrence
Chief Data Officer,
Data Governance
Executive Director of
and Assessment,
Curriculum and
Instructional Support
Principal, Duluth HS
Associate Principal,
Duluth HS
Principal, Lanier HS
Associate Principal,
Collins Hill HS
Leslie Aiken
Executive Director of
Accountability and Assessment,
Curriculum and
Instructional Support
Director of Assessment,
Curriculum and Instructional Support
Dr. Keena
Director of
Accelerated Programs
and Gifted Education,
Curriculum And
Instructional Support
Director of Humanities,
Fulton County (Ga.) Schools
Dr. Tinisha Parker
Director of Advisement and Counseling, School Improvement and Operations
Coordinator of Advisement and Counseling, School Improvement and Operations
Jessica Holden
Director of Science,
Curriculum and
Instructional Support
Assistant Principal,
Moore MS

As Dr. Durrence transitioned to her new position, Ms. Aiken stepped into the leadership role in Accountability and Assessment. As former principals Anthony Smith and Dr. Reuben Gresham became assistant superintendents for high schools, their open spots were filled by Dr. Davidson and Dr. Martin respectively. Dr. Parker took on her new role with the departure of Dianne Thompson to another school district. Dr. Ryals-Jenkins joins the C&I team with the retirement of Julia Osborne. Ms. Holden takes on her new leadership role with Dr. Jonathon Wetherington’s selection as principal of the new Paul Duke STEM HS, opening in August.

School and Central
named in October and November
Dr. Debbie Durrence
Dr. Eric Davidson
Dr. Christopher Martin
Leslie Aiken
Dr. Tinisha Parker
Jessica Holden
Dr, Keena Ryals-Jenkins

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Committee reviews AKS, makes annual recommendations
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The GEMS Oversight Committee reviewed the AKS in a Nov. 2 meeting.
AKS recommendations were provided to the superintendent and adopted by the School Board.

The GEMS Oversight Committee convenes each year to review and provide feedback on the district’s Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum. This year’s meeting was held Nov. 2, with more than 50 educators and community members participating. The Committee made recommendations on course standards in the following curriculum areas: career and technical education, ESOL, fine arts, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. The group provided recommendations to CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks for adoption by the School Board. The Board approved the changes as recommended by the GEMS Oversight Committee.

“While the GEMS Oversight Committee was a great success, I would also like to recognize and thank the various teachers who served on AKS development committees, along with the educators and community members who provided additional feedback through our GCPS website,” says Jadd Jarusinski, director of instructional resources and support. “Their participation in the AKS development process is not only necessary but truly invaluable.”

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2018–19 registration begins for new Paul Duke STEM HS,
first of theme schools to offer crowding relief

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The new Paul Duke STEM HS will open in August, providing relief in the Norcross Cluster.
Offering a small-school experience, Paul Duke will be STEM-focused with an emphasis on technology.
The school will feature non-traditional hours, large labs and design space, internships, capstone projects, and opportunities to get a jump on college.
Dec. 8 is the initial deadline for students in the cluster to submit commitment forms.
If space is available, students outside of the cluster may attend if they provide their own transportation.

A small school with big ideas is coming to the Norcross Cluster! Paul Duke STEM HS is a theme high school, opening in Norcross in August of 2018. The school’s focus will be on rigorous and relevant applications of technology in science, engineering, and mathematics (together, known as STEM) in three main areas— Applied Engineering and Robotics; Communication, Art, and Design; and Digital and Innovative Technology.

Located at 5850 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, the school will give much-needed relief to Norcross HS as students in the cluster will have the option of attending either school. (If space is available, students outside the cluster who provide their own transportation may have the option to attend.) Opening with fewer than 1,000 students, Paul Duke STEM HS will offer a unique “smaller school” experience.

A smaller school experience creates a learning community where teachers really get to know their students. The students are closely connected to each other due to common experiences, fostering a positive learning environment. When combined with a specific focus area, such as STEM, a small school also supports a focus on each individual student’s academic success as well as a commitment to connecting students with engaging, relevant learning.

Paul Duke’s technology-infused STEM curriculum was developed with students and their future in mind. “The school will feature collaborative and connected classes; active, hands-on learning; and learning with and through technology,” says Dr. Jonathon Wetherington, Paul Duke’s principal. He says high expectations, high-tech skills, and high-reward options will help prepare graduates for college and career.

The new school will feature a non-traditional schedule with Fridays set aside as a digital learning day, allowing students to work from home or school. And the building itself is different, too. Three learning labs—one for each floor— are attached to computer labs with nearby collaboration rooms. Each of the three STEM programs has dedicated space for instruction and hands-on learning, with a makerspace, a design studio, and an advanced computing lab. Large science labs support research and investigation, while fine arts spaces and the theater are designed for collaboration.

Other differences... Students in the same class may work on different assignments. And, students will have opportunities to apply their learning through in-class projects, internships, and design challenges. All students will progress through a four-year research program that begins with seminar courses and culminates with capstone projects and internships. Budding entrepreneurs will be able to pursue a start-up. Paul Duke students also will have extensive opportunities to take Advanced Placement courses and earn industry certifications, certificates from colleges, and even a two-year college degree while still in high school.

Community advisors— including representatives from large and small tech companies (many housed in the nearby Technology Park) as well as officials from the cities of Norcross and Peachtree Corners— have supported the development of the school and will continue to provide guidance, learning opportunities, content experts, and other support.

Starting in October, school and district leaders began conducting community meetings at Norcross Cluster schools and at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center. Prospective students also had the opportunity to participate in an initial interest survey that tells students more about the school while also giving school leaders feedback regarding student interest.

Because there has been a great deal of interest in Paul Duke, the number of students who can attend will be limited to 400 students per grade level in year one. Dec. 8 is the initial deadline for students in the cluster to submit commitment forms. That deadline may be extended if openings remain at one or more grade levels. If registration exceeds the projected 400 students per grade level in year one, GCPS will host a lottery that follows the current process in place for other schools and programs supported by a lottery. Each registrant would be assigned a lottery number that would be used should a lottery be required.

For current Norcross students, course registration for Paul Duke will begin in January. Rising 9th graders from Pinckneyville MS and Summerour MS with plans to attend Paul Duke will complete the course selection process during articulation activities at the middle school.

eSTEAM prepares 8th graders for Norcross Cluster options
This fall, Pinckneyville MS and Summerour MS launched eSTEAM Academies to help prepare their 8th graders for learning opportunities they’ll have in high school in the Norcross Cluster, including the Junior Achievement Academy and International Baccalaureate programs at Norcross HS and STEM Pathways at the new Paul Duke STEM HS. The school-within-a-school programs focus on entrepreneurship (that’s the e) as well as the now-familiar instructional focus of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and the Arts. Through project-based learning, students in the academies explore careers in areas like digital art, marketing, music technology, coding, film, and robotics.

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GCPS-Simon partnership to provide school/work option
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
A satellite program of Phoenix HS will open at Sugarloaf Mills mall in the fall.
The program is a partnership between GCPS and Simon Youth Foundation, a non-profit affiliated with the mall's owner.
The non-traditional program will offer flexible hours, individualized learning, and work opportunities.

In 1997, Phoenix HS, a non-traditional high school in GCPS, moved to its new home… a former shopping center in Lawrenceville. Keeping that history in mind, it seems fitting that a new extension of the school is opening in an area mall. That’s right, Phoenix HS at Sugarloaf Mills will open its doors in August of 2018.

Phoenix HS at Sugarloaf Mills is the result of an innovative partnership between GCPS and Simon Youth Foundation (SYF), a non-profit founded by the Simon Property Group, Inc. SYF partners with public school districts across the nation, providing the space and infrastructure (furniture, renovation of space, wiring, etc.) for a unique school setting within a Simon mall. The school district provides the curriculum and personnel for the program.

“Education is the true key to a student’s future,” says Donna Scott, Phoenix HS principal. “Here in Gwinnett, all of our students receive an education that is world-class, both in its rigor and in course offerings. The Phoenix HS and Simon Youth Foundation satellite will continue the incredible tradition of offering students a true world-class education.”

Consistent with the school’s motto— “We exist for students”—this unique program is designed to serve students who are committed to finishing their education but need additional support and/or are interested in working while they go to school. It will be a great match for students who would benefit from having an option other than the traditional high school setting. The flexible hours, individualized learning, and real-world experiences will engage students, encouraging them to finish high school. So, for high school students shopping around for a different educational experience… Phoenix HS at Sugarloaf Mills might be just the right fit!

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GCPS-County partnership brings fire tower to Maxwell
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
A district-county partnership has funded a fire training tower on the Maxwell HS of Technology campus.
The tower will be used by students at Maxwell who are studying fire services, emergency response, law enforcement, and healthcare as well as county firefighters.

From the outside, it might look like a four-story building with gray siding, but for the students in the Fire Services Program at Maxwell HS of Technology, the newly opened fire training tower gives an inside view and hands-on experience in a potential career, right on campus, and in the same training facility that will be used by county firefighters.

Maxwell has 30 students enrolled in Firefighting classes and 52 students enrolled in Emergency Medical
Responder classes.
“The tower may not be a luxury skyscraper, but it is something we can all be proud of,” said GCPS’ CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the tower. “It’s something that will benefit the students, the fire department, and, more importantly, the citizens of Gwinnett County. It represents what’s right about the county.”

The new tower is a joint project of Gwinnett County Public Schools and Gwinnett County Government. The $600,000 tower was funded with $530,000 in SPLOST revenue from the county and the balance was funded by GCPS.

Maxwell offers several career-centered programs that lead to public service jobs, including Fire and Emergency Services, Law Enforcement Services, and Therapeutic Services (Healthcare). Crews from nearby Fire Station 20 provide mentoring and instruction to Maxwell students in these allied programs.

A fully equipped firefighter carries 85 pounds of gear.
“The addition of the fire tower on our campus broadens the entire learning experience for our students,” says Dr. Jeff Hall, Maxwell principal. “With the exception of live burns, our fire services students are able to receive training comparable to current Gwinnett County Fire Department recruits.”

The tower will allow both students and firefighters to practice responding to and mitigating emergency situations in multi-story buildings. The facility will provide a host of training opportunities, including search and rescue operations, using a breathing apparatus, emergency medical care, hose advancement, fire sprinkler and standpipe systems, ground and aerial ladder placements, and hoisting techniques. The training tower is believed to be the only facility of its kind located at a high school.

About Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services… Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services provides fire protection and emergency medical services for nearly a million Gwinnett citizens, responding to more than 78,000 calls for help annually. With 916 staff members, the department operates 31 fire stations with 31 engine companies, 11 ladder trucks, and 29 ambulances. All emergency response vehicles are staffed with emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics and carry essential medical equipment for advanced life support. Trained teams also are in place for technical rescues, response to hazardous materials, and swift water rescue situations.

Photos provided by Gwinnett County Government—Communication Division

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Help fill the Gwinnett County Story Vault
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Gwinnett County will celebrate its 200th anniversary on Dec. 15, 2018.
Gwinnettians can share their memories on video for an online Story Vault.
Bicentennial events are planned for the next 12 months.

Next year, it’s the big 2-0-0 for Gwinnett County!

You can help commemorate the county’s bicentennial by sharing your story. Stories from the past help put the present in context and shape a shared vision for the future. And we all have stories to tell!

The county is capturing stories from residents about how our vibrantly connected community came to be and where we are today. Whether you’ve just arrived or you’re a longtime Gwinnettian, you are invited to share your memories of Gwinnett’s people, places, and events. There’s no script… just volunteer to sit down and talk with an interviewer on camera.

The video stories will be contained in an online Story Vault, and some of the best stories will be included in the county’s big celebration on Dec. 15, 2018.

Become a permanent part of Gwinnett County history by calling 770-822-7180 or emailing the Gwinnett County Communications Division (info@gwinnettcounty.com) to book a time. Upcoming available dates for interviews are Friday, Dec. 8, and Monday, Dec. 18.

Learn about other bicentennial events online.

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Employment Briefs

GCPS sets Special Education Teacher Job Fair for Jan. 27
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
GCPS will hold a job fair for special education teachers on Jan. 27.
The deadline to register for the invitation-only event is Jan. 22.
Eligible candidates must be certified in a Special education field (or plan to be certified by July)..

Know a certified (or soon-to-be certified) special education teacher interested in teaching in Gwinnett? Share this important upcoming event. Gwinnett County Public Schools will host a Special Education Teacher Job Fair on Saturday, Jan. 27, from 8 a.m. to noon at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center in Suwanee.

The fair is by invitation only for those who have a pre-scheduled interview. Registration to attend the fair will close on Jan. 22, or when all interview times have been filled.

Candidates eligible to attend must be certified (or will be by July of 2018) in any field of Special Education. GCPS will be offering contracts for the 2018-19 school year at the event.

GCPS is interviewing teachers with certification in these Special Education fields: Autism, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD), Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), Intellectual Disabilities (ID), Orthopedically Impaired (OI), Other Health Impaired (OHI), Visually Impaired (VI), Deaf/Hard of Hearing (D/HH), Speech/Language Impairments (Speech-Language Pathology), and Significantly Developmentally Delayed (SDD).

Point interested teachers to the website for more information on requesting an interview for the Jan. 27 fair. Contact gcpsteach@gwinnett.k12.ga.us with questions.

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GCPS now hiring…
Spread the word! GCPS is accepting applications for school bus drivers! The hourly wage is competitive, and drivers have excellent benefits and paid training as well as summer vacation and holidays off. Applicants are required to hold a good driving record and a high school diploma or GED. Questions? Call 678-225-7670 or visit GCPSjobs.org.

We're looking for a few great subs! GCPS is filling positions for substitutes. Send friends and families to check out the Substitute Teaching Program for the 2017-18 school year! Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the school year, and substitute teacher orientation sessions are conducted weekly. Pay rates 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. Learn more by calling 678-301-6140 or visiting www.gcpsjobs.org for information and an application.

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Considering retirement in 2018?
Schedule an appointment with a retirement counselor

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
If you are planning to retire at the end of the school year, make sure to schedule a retirement counseling appointment in the next few months.
Appointments are available in two locations on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The Gwinnett Retirement Services Department is currently scheduling retirement counseling appointments for sessions in January, February, and March for those employees planning to retire at the end of this school year. In order to complete retirement applications and ensure prompt first payments from the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia or Public School Employees Retirement System, please contact Retirement Services at (678) 301-6267 or (678) 301-6267 6269. Appointments with retirement counselors— located in either Suwanee or Lawrenceville— are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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Update contact information before tax information mailed
As the end of the year approaches, remember to verify and update any needed changes to your mailing address. Employees can make changes on the Employee Portal on the “About Me” tab, under the “Name/Contact Changes” section. All 2017 W2’s will be mailed on or before Jan. 31.

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Buyer beware… Cybercriminals prey on holiday shoppers
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Cybercriminals take advantage of an increase in online shopping during the holidays to prey on Internet users.
To protect yourself online, make sure your transaction is secure and you're doing business with established vendors.
Beware of unsolicited emails and follow other tips to safeguard your financial and personal information.

Cybercriminals don’t take a break during the holiday season. In fact, they may crank it up a notch over the next several weeks as they prey on holiday shoppers who are more likely to make online purchases to take advantage of convenience, comparison shopping, and great deals.

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), part of the Department of Homeland Security, reminds computer users to keep their guard up when browsing or shopping online this holiday season. A recent bulletin warned, “Emails and ecards from unknown senders may contain malicious links. Fake advertisements or shipping notifications may deliver attachments infected with malware. Spoofed email messages and phony posts on social networking sites may request support for fraudulent causes.”

US-CERT offers a number of suggestions for protecting yourself when shopping online:
Do business with reputable vendors. Make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate and established vendor before providing personal or financial information. Malicious sites may appear legitimate so take the time to do some research and check the website certificate.
Make sure your transaction is secure. If your vendor does not use encryption, your personal and financial information could be vulnerable to cyberattack as it is being transmitted. Look for URLs that begin with “https:” instead of “http:” and have a closed padlock icon. Make sure that the icon is in the appropriate location for your browser.
Beware of unsolicited emails. Cybercriminals may try to gather information by sending emails that request confirmation of a purchase or account information. Reputable businesses do not solicit your information this way. If a company with which you do business with does send such an email, do not click on the provided links. Instead, log in to their authentic website and inquire about the request. (Learn more about recognizing and avoiding email scams online.)
Use a credit card. Laws limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, but you may not have the same protection for debit card purchases. In addition, because debit cards draw money out of your account, an unauthorized charge could leave you short for other purchases while you’re trying to get a fraudulent purchase reversed. US-CERT also recommends using a credit card when using a payment gateway such as PayPal, Google Wallet, or Apple Pay.
Keep records and check statements. Keep track of your purchases, maintain copies of confirmations, and review them against your bank statement. If you do spot a discrepancy, report it immediately. (Find out how to prevent and respond to identity theft.)
Know your charities. Attackers also may misrepresent themselves as charities during the holidays, creating a malicious site and using email messages to get your personal and financial information. Follow the same suggestions offered for online shoppers. Make sure the site is legit and the transaction is secure. And use a credit card or ask for billing.

If you fall victim to a holiday phishing scam on your personal accounts, you can fight back with these actions:
Contact your financial institution immediately and close any accounts that may have been compromised. Watch for any suspicious charges to your account.
Immediately change any passwords you might have revealed and do not use that password in the future. Avoid reusing passwords on multiple sites. (See tips for choosing and protecting passwords.)

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District seeks mentors for both boys and girls
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The district is seeking volunteer mentors for the Community-Based Mentoring Program.
The program will start serving female students in January.

Studies show that successful mentoring programs help students develop social skills, improve their school achievement and graduation rates, build character, and many other benefits. Now in its ninth year, GCPS has served hundreds of young men with its Community-Based Mentoring Program, with a number of GCPS staff members serving as mentors. Starting in January, the program will expand to serve female students as well. The district is seeking both men and women to serve as mentors. Prospective mentors can learn more about how to become a mentor and find an application online.

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Your experience can be a great teacher
No matter your role in the district, your life experiences qualify you to be a successful volunteer at Gwinnett’s Junior Achievement (JA) Discovery Center! Through real-life simulations in JA BizTown and JA Finance Park, GCPS 6th and 8th grade students develop skills to better navigate today’s complex economic environment. 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.

Share this volunteer opportunity with friends and family or consider volunteering yourself. Online, find more information and register as a volunteer!

Questions about volunteering at the JA center? Contact Kyle Redner by email at kredner@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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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... volunteer opportunities, scholarships, a free pass to the great outdoors, Communiqué stories, recent GCPS TV videos, the next Spotlight, Perks, avoiding the flu, and commute alternatives

Believe in our students’ future: Step up to support the Gwinnett science fair!… As the 2018 Gwinnett Science, Engineering + Innovation Fair approaches, learn how you can participate in the Feb. 23 event. District leaders are looking for sponsors, judges, career exhibitors, and volunteers. Please share this opportunity with families, friends, and community contacts. Check out this GCPS TV video of last year’s fair to see what you can expect! Need more information? Contact the event’s planning team online.
Seniors have until Dec. 11 to apply for Foundation scholarships… The 2018 Student and Faculty Scholarship Catalog is available online for graduating seniors. The deadline to submit applications for the scholarships managed by the GCPS Foundation is Dec. 11. Winners will be announced in May of 2018.
Get a free pass! Plan your trip! Hit the road!… If you have a 4th grader at home, here’s a nice holiday gift to keep the family entertained (and learning) during the upcoming Winter Break… free access to our nation’s natural and historical treasures that make up the national parks system!

From sea to shining sea, our country is home to inspiring landscapes, vibrant waterways, and living history that all Americans can enjoy. And, with the “Every Kid in a Park” program, America’s 4th graders can visit our federal lands and waters for FREE! All 4th graders in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free Interagency Annual Pass and can bring their families with them!

A number of sites are in the metro Atlanta area, and dozens more are within a few hours by car. With the free pass (good for their 4th grade year), kids can see protected animals, visit the woods or water, explore a park or recreational area, learn about our heritage at historical sites, and take an American outdoor adventure.

Just follow these three easy steps: 1.) Fill out a short Adventure Diary on the Every Kid in a Park website. 2) Download and print your personalized voucher. (You can exchange your paper pass for a plastic pass at some locations.) 3) Plan your trip and go!
Find the latest from Communiqué…The latest posts to the online Communiqué  include American Education Week celebrations, calendar news, TOTY honors, college application resources, students excited about literacy and the law, plus dates and deadlines on the Bulletin Board, and the latest episode of In5ive. Coming up? Award-winning staff members, some “promising” writers, a glimpse at future careers, some special community partners, and more! 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:
— Elementary Honor Chorus Fall 2017: Watch and listen as 300 students join voices for a grand performance
— Maxwell HS Fire Tower: Students, firefighters, and county officials come together to unveil Maxwell HS of Technology's fire training tower
— Duluth STEAM Festival: The Duluth community recently celebrated STEAM education.
— Marching Band Exhibition 2017: GCPS hosted an exhibition of high school marching bands at Mill Creek HS earlier this fall. 
— Snellville MS Leadership Academy: Snellville MS students learn valuable leadership skills.in the academy.
— Literacy Palooza: Parents, community partners, and the Gwinnett County Public Library came out to cheer on Sycamore ES' Literacy Palooza, an annual tradition. 
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. Submissions for the next issue are due Jan. 23. Coming soon… the fall issue of Spotlight.
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.
It's not too late to stop the flu!… The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that citizens get their flu vaccine now for the best protection against seasonal influenza. Make sure to get a shot 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.
Snap a photo for ‘I Love Public Education’ contestThe American School Superintendents Association (ASAA) is looking for the perfect image to promote public education. The deadline to enter the 2017 I Love Public Education Photo Contest is Dec. 11. Suggested themes for submissions include success stories in public schools, equity in education, and the future of public education. AASA is inviting contestants to capture an inspirational moment and submit it for the chance to win up to $1,000. The contest is open to students, teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone with a stake in education, and you don’t have to be an experienced photographer to enter or win! Winning contestants will be notified on or about Jan. 15, and will be acknowledged at AASA’s 2018 National Conference on Education on Feb. 15.
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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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 02/23/2018