Volume 41 , Number 2October 2, 2020


2020–21 Local school Teachers of the Year ‘Shine’ bright!
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
A group of 139 educators were named as local school Teachers of the Year.
TOTY semifinalists will be announced later this month.




Congratulations to Gwinnett’s 139 local school Teachers of the Year (TOTYs)!
These award-winning educators “shine” in their classrooms and make sure that their students do the same! Announced Oct. 2, our TOTYs were selected by their peers to represent their school in the district’s annual TOTY contest. (New Life Academy of Excellence and North Metro Academy of Performing Arts, both charter schools, do not participate in the district’s TOTY selection process.)

"In light of the unique challenges our teachers faced this year, we wanted more than ever to show our love, support, and appreciation to our teachers,” says Dr. Clay Hunter, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Support. “These educators are the best of the best and they shine every day in the classroom, online, and in our community. Although the state suspended its Teacher of the Year process this year, Gwinnett County Public Schools is pleased to continue its tradition of celebrating great teaching as we host our annual Teacher of the Year celebration!”

Next up in the TOTY process? 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 November. Level winners and the 2021 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year will be announced at a special event on Dec. 10.

Throughout the fall, we’ll be highlighting TOTY news in staff newsletters. Watch for online photo galleries, featuring photos of local school TOTYs submitted, posted, and tweeted by our schools!

Congratulations to
GCPS’ 2020-21 Local School Teachers of the Year!
Yvonda Thomas of Alcova ES
Kaitlin Isabelle of Alford ES
Penny Dalin of
Anderson-Livsey ES

Tracy Clarke of Annistown ES
Kathryn M. Honea of Arcado ES
David Nelson of Archer HS
Vandana Bhagat of Baggett ES
Jennifer Ko of Baldwin ES
Janet Donnelly of Bay Creek MS
Rachel Middleton of
Beaver Ridge ES

Tiffany Suzette Nelson of
Benefield ES

Melissa Redner of
Berkeley Lake ES

Dr. Jessica Ewalt of Berkmar HS
Matthew Pelli of Berkmar MS
Ronelle Nelson of Bethesda ES
Kasshavin Clemons of Britt ES
Allison Huckle of Brookwood ES
Danielle Kaiser of Brookwood HS
Dr. Melinda Horton of
Buice Center

Tara Nolan of Burnette ES
Madison Pogue of
Camp Creek ES

Marcia Place of Cedar Hill ES
Ontoya Fowler of Centerville ES
Kelsey Allen of
Central Gwinnett HS

Stephanie Kennedy of Chattahoochee ES
Ji Park of Chesney ES
Kelley Curtiss Donovan of
Coleman MS

Hali Chase of Collins Hill HS
Beth Stetter of Cooper ES
Stephanie M. Shane of Corley ES
Carrie Harrison of Couch MS
Dorrie Gann of Craig ES
Leslie Crider of Creekland MS
Dr. Kinsey Edwards of Crews MS
Stephanie Malley of Dacula ES
Byron Wilson of Dacula HS
Thelma Sanford of Dacula MS
Diane E. Sullivan of Discovery HS
Whitley Arens Parker of
Duluth HS

Alynna Nguyen of Duluth MS
Beth McDowell of
Duncan Creek ES

Matt Bonk of Dyer ES
Carol Patricia Grey of
Ferguson ES

Julianne Purnell of
Five Forks MS

Heather Thorpe of Fort Daniel ES
Sandy Sproles of
Freeman's Mill ES

Sha-Von Valentine of
GIVE Center East

Erica Freeman-Jones of
GIVE Center West

Benjamin Beitzel of
Grace Snell MS

La'Bria Monae Hannah of
Graves ES

Ferdye Bamaca-Forkel of
Grayson ES

Devine Wright of Grayson HS
Jennifer Mimms of
Gwin Oaks ES

Elizabeth Lorimer of
Gwinnett Online Campus

Laura Gray of
Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology

Melissa Barth of Harbins ES
Jennifer Branch of Harmony ES
Kelsey M. Chancey of Harris ES
Kelly Duggan of Head ES
Janet Kim of Hopkins ES
Jacqueline Hall of Hull MS
Mary Stoikov of
International Transition Center

Samantha Carr of Ivy Creek ES
Audrey Massey of Jackson ES
Teosha Teasley of Jenkins ES
Autumn Sutton of Jones MS
Shannon Haney of Jordan MS
Chloe Franklin of Kanoheda ES
Olivia Boza of Knight ES
Collin Jones of Lanier HS
Dena Dale of Lanier MS
Juliann Terrell of
Lawrenceville ES
Amanda Flanter of
Level Creek ES

Lena Alonso of Lilburn ES
Naveed A. Khan of Lilburn MS
Kinsley Compton of Lovin ES
Katelyn McClure of Magill ES
Katherine Wasson of Mason ES
Linda Minor of
Maxwell HS of Technology

Dr. Leslie Dunham of
McClure Health Science HS

Rebecca Gandy of
McConnell MS

Keona Doughty of
McKendree ES

Erica Lloyd of Meadowcreek ES
Richard Tilford of
Meadowcreek HS

Ashley Farrington of
Mill Creek HS

Sara Welp of Minor ES
Choy Roberts of Moore MS
Katrina Tucker of
Mountain Park ES

Danielle Jenkins of
Mountain View HS

Virginia Dreybus of Mulberry ES
Heather Bright of Nesbit ES
Kalena M. Bennett of
Norcross ES

Sarah Miller of Norcross HS
Kevin Blankenship of
North Gwinnett HS

Beth Cure of North Gwinnett MS
Angelika Shelly of
Northbrook MS

Catrice Byrd-Pippens of
Norton ES

Angela Lamont of
Oakland Meadow School

Beckie Fulcher of Osborne MS
Heather Baug Graham of
Parkview HS

Lisa Isom-Jones of Parsons ES
Mona Brawley of Partee ES
DeeDee Thomas of Patrick ES
Philip Peavy of
Paul Duke STEM HS

Kelly Sibley of Peachtree ES
Nina M. Hidalgo of
Peachtree Ridge HS

Alicia Lyman of Pharr ES
Matt Rooks of Phoenix HS
Dennise Peagler of
Pinckneyville MS

Jill McKee of Puckett's Mill ES
Dr. Derrick Cunningham of
Radloff MS

Dre Reaves of Richards MS
Genny Greco of Riverside ES
Hope Russell of Roberts ES
Adrian Wilkins of
Rock Springs ES

Georgia O'Connor of
Rockbridge ES

Jennifer Ritter of Rosebud ES
Sheila Rogers of Shiloh ES
Cynthia Onyebuchi of Shiloh HS
Jairus E. Hallums of Shiloh MS
Derica Sherrer of Simonton ES
Sarah Mazzatta of Simpson ES
Bryant Poss of Snellville MS
Danielle Swaby of
South Gwinnett HS

Teresa R. Blackman of
Starling ES

Lisa Stubbs of Stripling ES
Katie Blum of Sugar Hill ES
Nancy Ortiz-Daley of
Summerour MS

Medina Kovacevic of
Suwanee ES

Jason Tyler of Sweetwater MS
Amy Stout of Sycamore ES
Judi Morrison of Taylor ES
Kelsi Carter Hamilton of
Trickum MS

Courtney L. Smith of Trip ES
Katy Bettencourt of
Twin Rivers MS

Ashley Garcia of
Walnut Grove ES

Kristy Shea of White Oak ES
Lindsay Fidanza of Winn Holt ES
Laura Philmon of
Woodward Mill ES

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Continuation of penny tax for schools on Nov. 3 ballot
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
This election cycle, Gwinnett voters are being asked to consider continuing the one-cent E-SPLOST, a local tax designated for schools.
Over the years, the E-SPLOST has provided thousands of needed classrooms as well as technology improvements that are essential to teaching and learning.
Gwinnett’s E-SPLOST is not a new or additional tax. It's the same penny tax already being collected on sales.
GCPS has a proven record of delivering projects on time and within budget.
If approved, projects funded by the E-SPLOST would benefit every cluster and every school.
This election cycle, Gwinnett voters are being asked to consider continuing the E-SPLOST (education special purpose local option sales tax). Over the years, the E-SPLOST has provided thousands of needed classrooms as well as technology improvements that are essential to teaching and learning.

Gwinnett’s E-SPLOST is not a new or additional tax but a continuation of the one-cent tax already being collected on sales. The current E-SPLOST sunsets on June 30, 2022. If voters approve the extension, the penny would be collected for another five-year period, beginning July 1, 2022.

The district estimates that the extended E-SPLOST would bring in tax

Remember… GCPS staff members may educate others about the E-SPLOST and encourage everyone to participate in the election, but may not seek to influence anyone to vote a certain way on the sales tax question or for a particular candidate while using work resources or during work hours.
collections of $984,565,000 over the five-year period. That amount would be split, with approximately $957,096,000 going to Gwinnett County Public Schools and $27,469,000 to Buford City Schools (based on school enrollment).

Projects for the E-SPLOST proceeds include a new middle school in the Archer Cluster and additions and renovations at Harbins ES, Shiloh MS, Trickum MS, Archer HS, Central Gwinnett HS, North Gwinnett HS, and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology. Other capital improvements would be funded with proceeds, including a refresh of technology at all schools, digital instructional resources and other instructional materials and textbooks, systemwide facility improvements such as roofing and HVAC and building improvements, and the purchase of school buses to replace older, less-efficient vehicles.

The ballot question also calls for approval of short-term general obligation (GO) bonds, which would provide the district with funding prior to the collection of the sales tax, allowing us to get a jump-start on needed building and technology projects. The bonds would be repaid with sales tax proceeds as that revenue is collected.

GCPS has a proven record of delivering projects on time and within budget. Since Gwinnett voters first approved the E-SPLOST, it has played a major role in a building program that has provided 65 new schools and 94 additions and renovations for a total of 6,041 new classrooms.

Online, learn more in an informational insert about the E-SPLOST and find Gwinnett County Voter Information.
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4 Things to Know About the Nov. 3 Election…
    1. Gwinnett County voters are being asked to approve a continuation of the one-cent E-SPLOST, a local tax designated for schools.
    2. Gwinnett’s E-SPLOST is not a new or additional tax. It's the same penny tax already being collected on sales.
    3. Projects funded by the E-SPLOST would benefit every cluster and every school.
    4. The E-SPLOST question is long and it is the second-to-last item on the ballot.
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GCPS providing free student meals through Dec. 31
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Café Gwinnett is providing breakfast and lunch at no cost for anyone 18 or younger through Dec. 31, under a federal waiver.
Families eligible for free- and reduced meals during the year can apply or re-apply at any time to ensure meal benefits continue when this waiver expires.
Under a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and with guidance from the Georgia Department of Education, Café Gwinnett is providing breakfast and lunch at no cost for anyone 18 or younger through Dec. 31. Meals for in-person students are available at all schools. Digital learners and all others can pick up meals every school day, Monday through Friday, at curbside pick-up stations at any of 132 schools. Each day’s pick-up includes both breakfast and lunch. Families may not enter the school building to pick up or eat meals.

Beginning Oct. 5, the school district will deliver no-cost meals to digital learners and other children ages 18 and under at bus stops on Meadowcreek, Shiloh, and South Gwinnett cluster routes on school days between 9:45 and 11 a.m..

Families that become eligible for free- and reduced meals during the year and those receiving benefits who did not renew this fall because of the waiver can apply or re-apply at any time to ensure meal benefits continue when this waiver expires. Note that those eligible for free- and reduced-priced meals may be able to access other types of public assistance or services that may be available during this pandemic.
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District starts year with 177,394 students
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
On Sept. 15, in the last of five enrollment counts, our schools reported 177,394 students.
The official October FTE count will be taken Oct. 6. However, student enrollment typically fluctuates throughout the year.
GCPS’ Planning Department has an amazing record when it comes to projecting enrollment each school year. Even with all of the unknowns in this unusual school start, enrollment counts were closer to pre-COVID projections than we might have expected. On Sept. 15, in the last of five enrollment counts, our schools reported 177,394 students, which was 3,874 fewer (-2.14%) than the projection of 181,268 students that was finalized in December 2019. Our high schools exceeded forecasts for grades 10–12, but we saw fewer students than expected in special education pre-K classes, and in kindergarten and 1st grade. Planners expect that these younger learners may return to our classrooms next fall. The district’s largest schools, by level, are Jackson ES, McConnell MS, and Mill Creek HS. Since the district’s first count on Aug. 18, GCPS enrollment has grown by more than 6,000 students. The official October FTE count will be taken Oct. 6. However, student enrollment typically fluctuates throughout the year.
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GCPS launches AKS at Home to support families of young learners
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
GCPS launched a new initiative called AKS at Home so families can help their children practice key skills in language arts and math.
Each nine weeks. families can participate in live Zoom sessions—specific to their child’s grade level—or watch recorded sessions.
The sessions started with K-5 and will extend to older students at a later date.
Families are important partners in a child’s education. GCPS has launched a new initiative called AKS at Home so that families can learn ways to help their children practice the key skills they are learning in language arts and math, whether students are learning at home or at school. For instance in kindergarten, the first sessions focus on key skills like recognizing the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, and learning to count objects in sequence using the names of numbers.

Families can participate in live Zoom sessions—specific to their child’s grade level—or watch recorded sessions. Helpful tipsheets are available online. Live virtual sessions for K-5 families are scheduled through Oct. 6, designed to reinforce key skills students are learning during the 1st nine weeks of school.

“We’re starting this initiative with foundational skills in language arts and mathematics for our youngest learners since they are new to the school experience, knowing that these basic skills are the foundation for future school success,” says Dr. Clay Hunter, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Support. “These tools will give their families a window into the classroom and an opportunity to get involved and reinforce what their children are learning.”

The district plans to roll out new Zoom sessions and tipsheets each nine weeks, continuing K-5 sessions and extending the help to families of middle and high school students at a later date. The sessions are hosted by parent instructional coordinators and parent outreach liaisons who staff Parent Centers in the district’s Title I schools. However, the sessions are open to all GCPS families.

School of the Arts @ Central Gwinnett High School to launch in 2021-22
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
School of the Arts @ Central Gwinnett High School (SOTA) is opening in August of 2021 for rising 9th and 10th graders.
SOTA will be open to students from around the district.
Areas of concentration will include Art and Design, Dance, Music Technology and Audio Production, Theatre, and Voice.
Unique features include an audition-required Conservatory Program as well as a Fellows Program with focused elective courses in the arts.
Current 8th and 9th grade students from all GCPS schools are invited to virtual information sessions set for Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.
GCPS students with a passion for the arts can pursue their artistic vision, explore their creativity, and learn from industry professionals at School of the Arts @ Central Gwinnett High School (SOTA), opening in August of 2021 for rising 9th and 10th graders. SOTA will offer a unique “arts-centric” learning experience for Gwinnett County high school students, boasting the most fine arts courses in the county. Areas of concentration will include Art and Design, Dance, Music Technology and Audio Production, Theatre, and Voice. Centrally located in Lawrenceville, this “school within a school” is designed for students who want to take their art to the next level, working with industry professionals and partnering with semi-professional, professional, and postsecondary arts organizations and programs for opportunities that students will not find anywhere else.

“Flexible class schedule options that allow for students to focus a majority of their school day working in an area they are passionate about is a component of the School of the Arts that are unique and exciting for prospective students,” says Shane Orr, principal of Central Gwinnett HS.

The arts school will combine required academic coursework with expanded fine arts classes and arts-related internships and work experiences at a pre-professional and professional level. Unique features include an audition-required Conservatory Program as well as a Fellows Program with focused elective courses in the arts. Conservatory students will spend much of their school day in expanded arts classes, internships, and work experiences in the arts, completing online and blended courses for academic coursework. Fellows will spend a majority of their day in core academic classes while focusing their elective course work in the arts, with expanded opportunities in creative writing, music (percussion, strings, and winds), and theatre.

Central Gwinnett students and students from other GCPS schools may apply for the Conservatory Program (audition/portfolio required) and the Fellows Program (no admissions criteria). Transfer students must provide their own transportation.

Housed in a new 31,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, SOTA will have a black box theatre for flexible staging and small-audience performances; visual arts classrooms and computer art lab; expanded band, orchestra, chorus, music technology, and recording studio facilities; dance studio space; unique and specialized private lesson and studio space; and expanded performance, rehearsal, and storage spaces.
Learn more about SOTA…

Remaining virtual information sessions are set for Oct. 17 and Oct. 24. The sessions are open to current 8th and 9th grade students from all GCPS middle and high schools and their families. Learn more about upcoming information sessions and the audition process online. On the SOTA website, find FAQs for students and families.


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Class of 2020 posts higher SAT scores
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The SAT composite average of 1097 for test-takers in the Class of 2020 exceeded state and national averages.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, fewer students (8,166) participated in spring testing compared to the Class of 2019 (8,977).
Average SAT scores for six GCPS high schools—Archer, Berkmar, Discovery, Meadowcreek, Mill Creek, and Norcross—increased.
Earlier this month, Gwinnett County Public Schools released SAT scores for GCPS’ Class of 2020, showing that Gwinnett test-takers continued the trend of outperforming their peers in Georgia and the nation. Gwinnett’s average on the SAT, a popular college-admissions test, topped state and national averages on both sections (Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing and Math) of the test. Gwinnett’s average score of 1097 was 67 points higher than the national average (1030) and 54 points higher than the state’s average (1043). The district’s average on the SAT increased slightly, while state and national averages dropped.

Gwinnett’s average composite score of 1097 is a combination of the average Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing score of 552 and the average Mathematics score of 545. (Possible scores range from 200 to 800 on each section. The highest possible composite score is 1600.) Not surprisingly, given COVID-19 concerns, the number of students who participated in spring testing dropped from previous years, with 8,166 test-takers in 2020 compared to 8,977 students in the Class of 2019. Average SAT scores for six GCPS high schools—Archer, Berkmar, Discovery, Meadowcreek, Mill Creek, and Norcross—increased. Online, learn more about college and career readiness benchmarks and achievement by student group.
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Lawmakers, GaDOE cut number of Milestones assessments for HS
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The state has eliminated four of the Georgia Milestones End of Course (EOC) tests as a requirement for graduation.
Previously, the state discontinued the Milestones End of Grade (EOG) assessment in 5th grade social studies.
In keeping with Senate Bill 367, which was signed into law in July, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) has eliminated half of the Georgia Milestones End of Course (EOC) tests required of high school students. Starting with the Class of 2021, the GaDOE will no longer require students to take EOCs in Physical Science, 9th Grade Literature and Composition, Economics, and Geometry or the accelerated equivalent as a requirement for graduation. Students will continue to take EOCs in Algebra I/Coordinate Algebra, American Literature and Composition, Biology, and U.S. History. Georgia’s testing program for middle and high school now more closely aligns with federal minimums for testing. Previously, the state discontinued the Milestones End of Grade (EOG) assessment in 5th grade social studies. Watch for an update later this fall regarding spring assessments, the state’s requested waiver, and the impact on GCPS’ promotion requirements.
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New leaders named for central office positions in HR
The School Board approved the following leadership appointments at its regular monthly Board Meeting on Sept. 17. Dr. Batiste accepts the role she has been filling on an interim basis. Ms. Martin moves into her new position with the retirement of Susan Blanchard.

Name
New Position
Current/Previous Position
Dr. Monica L. Batiste

Associate Superintendent, Human Resources and Talent Management
Interim Associate Superintendent,
Human Resources and Talent Management
Vickie B. Martin

Director of
Support Staffing,
Human Resources and
Talent Management
Director of
Enterprise Analytics,
Data Governance

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Vote 2020: Register to vote by Oct. 5, request ballot or plan in-person voting
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The deadline to register to vote in Gwinnett County (or make changes to an existing registration) is Monday, Oct. 5.
Log on to MVP— My Voting Page— for voter registration status, mail-in application and absentee ballot status, sample ballot, poll and advance voting locations, and more.
Online, check out FAQs on absentee voting and find locations, dates, and times for in-person advance voting.
One of our most important civic responsibilities is participation in the electoral process. Yet, every year, millions of Americans find themselves unable to vote because they miss a registration deadline, don’t update their registration, or aren’t sure how to register.

The deadline to register to vote in Gwinnett County (or make changes to an existing registration) is Monday, Oct. 5.

You can register by mail, online, and in many public buildings, including Gwinnett schools and the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center in Suwanee. Young people can register to vote at age 17 1/2, as long as they will be 18 by Election Day.

On the Secretary of State’s website, log on to MVP— My Voting Page— for voter registration status, mail-in application and absentee ballot status, sample ballot, poll and advance voting locations, and more. Call the Gwinnett County Office of Elections at 678-226-7210 with questions about voting in Gwinnett.

Once you’re registered, get #VoteReady for the 2020 election. Learn more about “healthy voting” options during COVID-19, and get Georgia voter information and a checklist for first-time voters from the non-partisan League of Women Voters.

To vote by mail, request an absentee ballot as soon as possible— by phone (Gwinnett Elections Office, 678-226-7210), by mail (download the application, sign, and return), or online at https://ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov/.

Online, check out FAQs on absentee voting and find locations, dates, and times for in-person advance voting.
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Give feedback on proposed instructional resources through Oct. 31
Staff, parents, and community members are invited to review and provide input on proposed curriculum resources for select grades and courses in Language Arts, Social Studies, Career and Technical  Education, and Foreign Language. This year’s virtual review will run through Oct. 31. Before adopting instructional resources for classroom use, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) holds an extensive review. The curriculum content offices and Instructional Resources and Support jointly convened multiple committees involving various stakeholder groups to select resources to consider for adoption submitted by publishers. The resources were reviewed for alignment with the school system’s Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum. During the review process, resources are piloted in GCPS classrooms. Data from the reviews and pilots will be considered in making adoption recommendations to the Board of Education in early 2021. To begin the review, please visit this link. For more about the instructional resources review process, contact the Office of Instructional Resources and Support, at 678-301-6828.
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Staff invited to give feedback on proposed AKS
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The annual review of the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum runs through Oct. 12.
This review is addressing AKS for career and technical education, foreign language, health and PE, and core academic courses.
Suggestions will be reviewed by the GEMS Oversight Committee later this fall.
The annual review of the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum runs through Oct. 12. Through the review process, staff, parents, and community members can give feedback on new AKS (Academic Knowledge and Skills) standards developed to align with the Georgia Standards of Excellence and/or Georgia Performance Standards. The AKS spell out the essential concepts students are expected to know and skills they should acquire in a given grade, subject, or course. This review is addressing AKS for career and technical education, foreign language, health and PE, and core academic courses. Input on these courses will be given via an online survey. On Nov. 5, the GEMS Oversight Committee—a group of community and school system representatives charged with the annual review of the AKS curriculum—will review the suggestions and curriculum director comments before making recommendations to CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks for adoption by the School Board.
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Community partnership provides early learning resources
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Gwinnett Building Babies’ Brains is an early learning awareness campaign and new web-based resources for families to make sure children are ready to thrive in kindergarten and beyond
To keep up with the latest on this initiative, follow Building Babies’ Brains on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for the newsletter.
Did you know that only 48% of children in our community start school prepared to learn? Earlier this month, the Gwinnett County Community Early Learning Working Group launched an early learning awareness campaign and new web-based resources for families to make sure children are ready to thrive in kindergarten and beyond. The campaign is part of a broader countywide strategy to improve Kindergarten Readiness. Called Gwinnett Building Babies’ Brains, this initiative is critical to our community’s success. Research shows that children exposed to positive early learning experiences—like reading, singing, and talking with caregivers—are less likely to have academic and behavioral problems in school. They are more likely to be strong readers by 3rd grade and graduate from high school.

You can do your part to build awareness of the importance of early learning on brain development in children under the age of 5 by sharing the online toolkit and resources with families and caregivers. Find resources on the website at https://buildingbabiesbrains.com/. To keep up with the latest on this initiative, follow Building Babies’ Brains on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for the newsletter.
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DLI ‘journey’ expands to middle school
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Now in its seventh year, GCPS’ Dual Language Immersion (DLI) is expanding into middle school.
A cohort of rising 6th graders are continuing their language studies at their feeder middle schools.
The DLI program launches with kindergarten students, then builds by one grade level every year.
Nine GCPS elementary schools have DLI programs.
GCPS’ Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program enters its seventh year, expanding for the first time into middle school! A cohort of rising 6th graders from the three pioneer elementary schools— Annistown and Bethesda (Spanish) and Trip (French)— are continuing their language studies at their feeder middle schools— Shiloh MS, Sweetwater MS, and Bay Creek MS, respectively.

As DLI students transition to middle school, the next step in their language journey involves more focused instruction in spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and syntax in the target language. DLI students will continue to learn the target language in a culture-rich immersion environment with additional focus on refining these language skills. All 6th grade DLI students will participate in a year-long DLI Advanced Language and Literacy course, with the option to take one or both of the offered semester-long courses— DLI Culture and History and DLI Media Literacy.

The other six elementaries offering DLI include Spanish programs at Baldwin, Camp Creek, Ivy Creek, Level Creek, and Meadowcreek elementaries, and a Korean DLI program at Parsons ES. With GCPS’ Elementary 50/50 Model, students spend half of the school day learning in English and the other half learning content areas in the target language (Spanish, French, or Korean). The program launches with kindergarten students, then builds by one grade level every year.
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Don’t ‘compromise’ data security
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of social engineering that can put an organization’s data and resources at risk.
GCPS has been the target for such cyberscams.
Employees should know what to watch for and take steps to minimize the risk of falling victim to a BEC attack.
Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of social engineering that can put an organization’s data and resources at risk. GCPS has been the target for such cyberscams. Learn more about BEC so you (and the district) are not victims.

How does Business Email Compromise (BEC) work?

BEC scams often begin with the fraudster performing a fair amount of research to understand the school district’s organizational structure and identify employees, in leadership positions, who likely would have the authority to request wire transfers, obtain access to sensitive information, or whose requests staff would carry out without verification. The scammer then impersonates or “spoofs” district leadership email addresses, making it seem that the request is coming from the CEO/Superintendent or a school principal or other supervisor.

What types of BEC scams have we seen targeting GCPS?

iTunes Gift Card Scam: In this scam, employees receive an email, seemingly from their principal or supervisor, asking the employee to buy multiple $100 iTunes gift cards for an event. The email also might say something like “I need this done right away; however, I’m in a meeting and you won’t be able to reach me until tomorrow.” After the employee has purchased the card, he or she will be instructed to share the 16-digit code on the back of the card, giving the scammer access to its value.

Wire Transfer Scam: In this scam, the victim receives an email, seemingly from someone in a leadership position, asking for assistance. The scammers, through a series of communications, ask the victim to perform a wire transfer. Funds will now be sent to a fraudulent account owned by the cybercriminals.

Payroll Redirection Scam: With this scam, the scammer impersonates an employee sending an email to the payroll department, requesting an update to the employee's direct deposit. Once the accounts are changed, funds are now deposited into the fraudulent account.

W-2 Scam: It’s not just funds that are in danger. Cybercriminals may impersonate a district leader and request access to sensitive and confidential information such as W-2s or social security numbers.

What can I do to protect myself and the school district from BEC scams?

Take these steps to minimize the risk of falling victim to a BEC attack:

Be mindful of short, attention-getting subject lines that say things like “Urgent!” or “Follow-up” or “Inquiry.” Carefully scrutinize all emails. The best practice always is to verify the request in person, especially if it involves a transfer of funds or a request for sensitive information. Keep an eye out for emails claiming to be from district leadership, but the email address has an external domain name such as @gmail.com or @yahoo.com.

Take Action. Report suspected phishing attempts to your TST/LSTC or contact the Customer Support Center at 678-301-6547. Forward any suspicious email messages to phishing.spam@gcpsk12.org. Delete the email from your Inbox, Sent Folder, and Trash Folder to permanently dispose of the message, or delete the text message/SMS.

—Learn more about Business Email Compromise on the Employee Portal.
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Save the Date:
Oct. 19–Nov. 6 marks benefits Open Enrollment period

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Open Enrollment (OE) for Plan Year 2021 runs Oct. 19 through Nov. 6.
Employees may find a slight increase in monthly premiums for health insurance, averaging around 5%, but no significant changes to providers or plans.
For the 17th year in a row, GCPS is providing the district benefits package with no increase in costs.
This year, employees can enroll in or increase supplemental life insurance without completing paperwork. Employees with coverage also can add life insurance for their spouse with no medical paperwork,
If you have a Health Care or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account, you must re-enroll each year.
Open Enrollment (OE) for Plan Year 2021 runs Oct. 19 through Nov. 6. Changes made during OE are effective Jan. 1 and will be in effect for the 2021 calendar year. OE changes to health insurance are made through the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) OE website. Employees may find a slight increase in monthly premiums, averaging around 5%, but no significant changes to SHBP providers or plans.
Choose the benefits package that’s right
for you!

OE changes to GCPS benefits will be made via the Online Benefits System, located in the Employee Portal. For the 17th year in a row, GCPS is providing the district benefits package with no increase in costs. This year, employees will have the unique opportunity to enroll in supplemental life insurance at 1x their annual salary or increase current coverage by 1x their salary (up to 4x their salary or $500,000)— all without completing medical paperwork. Employees who already have coverage also can pick up spousal life insurance at a guaranteed-issue— up to $30,000 with no medical paperwork required.

As a reminder, if you have a Health Care or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account, you must re-enroll each year. Before making your benefit selections, be sure to review SHBP and GCPS plan information, available during OE. In coming weeks, look for further information from the Benefits and Leave Administration office and your Local Site Benefits Representative (LSBR), including the school district’s online guide to benefits.
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Spread the word… GCPS is hiring subs
Substitutes work in our schools on daily or longer assignments, providing instruction through an in-person, digital, or concurrent format. Subs choose the assignments they want to accept and determine their own schedule. Compensation ranges from $98 a day up to $120 per day for on-call subs. Online, prospective substitutes can find information about virtual job fairs in October and an online application (Posting #66797). Learn more at GCPSjobs.org. Email substitutes@gcpsk12.org for assistance.
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Prepare for a secure retirement
This month, during National Retirement Security Month, GCPS employees are encouraged to learn more about retirement savings options, think about their personal retirement goals, and make sure they are on target to reach those goals. Participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans is a key component in retirement planning. You can contribute to any of the four types of defined-contribution plans (403(b), 457, and Roth versions of both) to boost your retirement security. These optional plans are in addition to the traditional defined-benefit plans of Gwinnett Retirement System (GRS) and either the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS) or the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) to which GCPS employees are enrolled automatically. You’ll have opportunities to meet with GCPS-approved representatives from AIG/VALIC during Retirement Security Month. Learn more about how to tend your “retirement garden”—whether you’re just starting out, mid-career, or nearing retirement. For more information, contact GCPS’ Retirement Department at (678) 301-6286. If you are nearing retirement and/or have individual questions, please call (678) 301-6267 to set an appointment to meet with a GCPS Retirement Specialist.
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GCPS seeks mentors for 2020-21
In Gwinnett County Public Schools, we believe in the Power of One… one caring adult can change a child’s life. With the support of community members and GCPS employees, the district’s Community-Based Mentoring Program is building on the Power of One to connect caring adults in the community with students to provide guidance, encouragement, and support to help them become successful young adults, both in and out school. The district is seeking both male and female mentors for the 2020-21 year. Currently, GCPS’ mentoring activities are virtual and district staff are supporting mentors and mentees for successful “remote” mentoring for individuals and small groups. Prospective mentors can learn more about how to become a mentor and find an application online. Training sessions for new mentors will be held online this school year. GCPS’ mentoring program has three priorities, serving students through individual and small-group mentoring:
African-American Boys PriorityYoung men in grades 4-12 at more than 60 schools
African-American Girls PriorityFemale students at 27 middle schools
Hispanic Boys and Girls Priority Students attending 15 middle schools
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GCPS employees have ‘purchasing power’
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Purchasing Power is a voluntary benefit that allows eligible GCPS employees to purchase products, paying installments through payroll deduction.
Any employee who meets Purchasing Power's eligibility requirements is automatically qualified, with no credit check.
The employee will know the total price upfront and how much will be deducted from each paycheck over a six- or twelve-month period.
Purchasing Power is a voluntary benefit that gives GCPS employees access to thousands of brand-name products with the option to pay over time through payroll deduction, with no escalating or hidden fees and no finance charges or interest. Any employee who meets Purchasing Power's eligibility requirements is automatically qualified, with no credit check. Eligible employees can register through the Purchasing Power website to view an online catalog that includes products like computers and tablets, home appliances, furniture, and fitness equipment.

Unlike discount programs that cater to consumers with good credit or cash on-hand, Purchasing Power offers a choice for buyers who do not have available cash or credit, and need an alternative to high-interest credit cards, loans, and rent-to-own options. Buyers have a set spending limit to promote responsible spending and to ensure that users maintain their financial health.

When using Purchasing Power, buyers receive their goods immediately but make payments on an installment plan. The employee will know the total price upfront and how much will be deducted from each paycheck over a six- or twelve-month period. For many items, the price also includes a value-added warranty bundle—with product coverage for two to three years, no deductible, and unlimited claims—ensuring that buyers have protection after they’ve completed their payments on installment. Check out these FAQs to learn more.
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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… Essentials, HR training, Education Week access, Census 2020, a Foundation fundraiser, Spotlight submissions, recent online Communiqué stories, and Perks.
Check out Essentials newsletter… The fall issue of Essentials takes a look at the New Normal in our schools, the district's Strategic Direction for 2020-2030, and more!
Complete HR training by Oct. 31… As a GCPS staff member, you are required to complete annual online training on 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 under the PD&E Tool. Look for “HR Compliance 2020–2021” listed under “My Courses.” The deadline to complete the training is Oct. 31.
Access Education Week for free… A districtwide site license gives GCPS staff full access to Education Week online, including everything that appears in print plus special reports that focus on teachers and digital directions and blogs on a variety of education topics. It’s easy to take advantage of this districtwide access to Education Week. Go to edweek.org on a GCPS computer using a district IP address to connect to the internet. On the site, you will be welcomed as a site license user and have all of Education Week’s news and information at your fingertips, anytime you’re on a GCPS campus. If you are interested in accessing Education Week from other devices or away from work, you’ll need a unique user ID. Online, register for your username and password. Your unique ID also allows you to sign up for e-newsletters, including a daily Edweek Update, a weekly Teacher Update, and the twice-monthly Curriculum Matters.
2020 Census: Respond by Oct. 5 to be counted!… If you haven’t yet completed the census for your household, it’s not too late to respond! By now, nearly 99% of U.S. households have been counted in the #2020Census, but we all need to be counted. Results of the census shape many aspects of our community— from funding for schools, highways, emergency services, and libraries to representation in Congress. Census takers are visiting every household that has not already responded to make sure all households are counted. If you haven’t responded yet, it’s not too late! Currently, the deadline to respond is Oct. 5. You can respond online at 2020census.gov, by phone, or by mail. If a census taker comes to your home, please cooperate. Your community needs your response. Visit 2020Census.gov today to get started!
Contribute to Foundation's '2020 Technology Tools for Kids' drive… The GCPS Foundation Fund, Inc., is continuing to raise funds for current needs in our community, particularly for technology to support digital learning. Your gifts will help ensure that all students have the technology tools that are critical to successful learning from home and in the classroom. Please give today and let’s watch our gifts grow together! To learn more, visit www.gcps-foundation.org, and follow the Foundation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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 an email to the Spotlight mailbox, or send the information to the Communication and Media Relations Department through the courier. Watch for the Fall issue soon. Submissions for the next issue are due Dec. 10.
Find the latest from Communiqué… Recent and upcoming posts to the online Communiqué include a visit from Freddie Falcon, a walk with “Spot,” the latest from Play 2 Learn, a social media TOTY Takeover, and more. Check the magazine frequently for the latest news! Story ideas? Great photos? Feedback? Let us know at communique@gwinnett.k12.ga.us.
Go back to school with employee discounts… Get "GCPS Perks" at your fingertips with the Foundation’s mobile app. GCPS employees have easy access to employee perks and discounts via their smartphone! Perks include special offers and discounts from local and national businesses. With the app, users also can make a donation, purchase event tickets, catch up on Foundation news, and contact the Foundation team. Download the app today for your iOS or Android device.

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    Last modified on 10/27/2020