Every new year brings exciting changes and new and expanding programs. 2018-19 will bring more of the same! Here are just a few highlights for the coming year…
Taking Care of Business
Practical, hands-on knowledge about personal finance and the world of work is an important part of a Gwinnett student’s education. A partnership with Junior Achievement (JA) launched the JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett, now in its fourth year. Annually, more than 50,000 GCPS middle schoolers take part in day-long simulations as part of the JA BizTown and JA Finance Park programs to learn how to navigate the workplace and manage money. More than 4,000 volunteers have supported the Center since its inception. Email VolunteerGwinnett@georgia.ja.org if you’re interested in volunteering at the Center this year.
Another JA program offers a deeper dive into entrepreneurship for high school students. New this year, students in the JA Academy at Parkview HS will learn what they need to succeed in college by connecting to business leaders and entrepreneurs. The program challenges students to think critically as they prepare for a successful future. JA Academy students gain real-world experience through visits to community businesses, mentoring, networking with professionals, tackling dynamic case studies, and more! The JA Academy at Norcross HS is entering its third year.
Turning up the STEAM (and STEM)
More than 20 GCPS schools are pursuing state STEM certification as they focus student learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The schools will join eight Gwinnett schools and programs that already hold STEM or STEAM designation from the Georgia Department of Education. (STEAM integrates the arts into STEM instruction.)
Lovin ES is the most recent entry to the ranks of GCPS’ STEM/STEAM-certified schools and programs, the most of any district in the state. The others include Gwinnett School of Science, Mathematics, and Technology (GSMST), Center for Design and Technology (CDAT) at Lanier HS, White Oak ES, STEM Program for Innovation Rigor Excellence (SPIRE) at Peachtree Ridge, Teamwork With Innovative Skills and Technology (TWIST) at Lanier MS, Mason ES, and Coleman MS.
This year, keep an eye on hands-on STEM and STEAM learning across the district. In classrooms at every level, students enhance learning with robotics, coding, project-based learning, and STEM experiences in science, math, and career and technical education. GCPS has FIRST LEGO League robotics teams in every elementary school. In fact, Gwinnett students at all levels have the opportunity to compete against peers across the state and nation through extracurricular competitions in all STEM areas.
Looking toward the Future
Students at seven Gwinnett high schools—Berkmar, Central Gwinnett, Discovery, Lanier, Meadowcreek, Shiloh, and South Gwinnett— get a preview of potential careers through college and career academies, learning core subjects through the lens of an academic or career theme. Job-shadowing, internships, and project-based learning allow students to learn from experience and collaborate with peers.
Students also have the opportunity to earn while they learn. During the 2017-18 school year, 1,100 participating students earned $3.3 million through career and technical education work-based learning opportunities. This fall, middle schoolers who will attend an academy high school will start exploring careers with the district’s annual Career Connections event. Local businesses are invited to partner with our schools to enhance college- and career-readiness.
In 2018-19, students at more than half of the district’s high schools have the opportunity to develop leadership skills through a military-affiliated unit of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). An Army unit at Central Gwinnett HS is the newest of our 14 JROTC units. Other units in GCPS high schools include Air Force units at Collins Hill, Dacula, Meadowcreek, North Gwinnett, and Shiloh; Army units at Berkmar, Discovery, Grayson, Norcross, and South Gwinnett; a Marine unit at Parkview; and Navy units at Duluth and Peachtree Ridge.
Innovative Ways to Learn
Districtwide, teachers use technology in a safe and secure environment to support student learning through blended and hybrid learning. Using digital content, web-based activities and videos, and multi-media products, both in and outside of the classroom, keeps students engaged and supports individual student needs when learning the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum. eCLASS and the district’s Bring Your Own Device initiative ensure that students are powering up to learn where they “live”… online on their digital devices.
Gwinnett students get a head start on college, potentially earning both high school and college credit through a range of programs. International Baccalaureate (IB) is available in the Norcross and Shiloh clusters, with IB instruction beginning in elementary and middle grades. Challenging, college-level Advanced Placement (AP) offerings are available in all traditional high schools and some non-traditional schools, taught by specially trained high school teachers. Annually, thousands of Gwinnett students earn college credit or exempt college courses by passing optional AP exams, saving both time and money in their undergraduate studies. Students also have the option of completing college coursework, on a college campus or through a school-based program, as part of the Dual Enrollment program.
Expanding their world
Now in its fifth year, GCPS’ Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program is expanding to two more schools, bringing the total number of DLI programs in GCPS to eight. In DLI, children develop proficiency in a new language while learning the district’s curriculum. The program builds by one grade level every year, through high school. The newest DLI schools— Level Creek ES and Meadowcreek ES— will launch their Spanish DLI program with Kindergarten. DLI students at Annistown, Baldwin, Bethesda, Camp Creek, and Ivy Creek elementaries learn in Spanish and English, while students at Trip ES learn in French and English. The program will open its first Korean DLI program at Parsons ES next school year.