Monday, June 23, 2008

Chinese Food

New Experiences with Chinese Food and Video Cameras

Have you ever tried REAL Chinese food? Have you mastered the art of using chopsticks? What manners do you use in a country not your own?

Using Flip video cameras seven Georgia high school students spent an evening in a Chinese restaurant trying to master both the cuisine and the technology of video taping each other as they prepared for the upcoming trip to China.

The Youth Art Connection is a program of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. Director Rebeca DesMarais, provided the following description of The Beijing Program:
The Beijing Program includes an international children's art exhibition - "Peace, Goodwill and Friendship through the Olympic spirit"-, a trip to China in June, 2008, and the interaction with the Xi'an Terracotta Warrior at the High Museum of Art in fall/winter 2008-2009. International Paint Pals, a program of the Youth Art Connection and a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta's Arts & Cultural Enrichment Program, is organizing the children's exhibition and is facilitating the overall Beijing Program. The trip to Beijing will coincide with the opening of the exhibition in Beijing, China on June 1, China's National Children's Day. Seven Boys & Girls club high school members have been selected to participate in The Program. The Beijing Program began in January, 2008 with monthly preparation meetings and extends into fall 2008 to coincide with the Terracotta Warriors Exhibition. On the June Trip, members will visit the ancient capitol of China, Xi'an, to the the terracotta Warriors firsthand and will then share their experiences with other Club members in the fall of 2008 as field trip "guides" on visits to the High Museum.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sophomores Provide Leadership at GSMST

The Sophomores: Monica, Brian, Noor & Nikhil

Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology (GSMST) open as a charter high school in time for the 2007-2008 school year. The original Freshman Class is now the rising Sophomore Class and on track to be the first in everything at the school through their graduation as the Class of 2011.

Attending Boot Camp as mentors to the new students gave the Sophomores a chance to reflect on their first year in a school that had opened for the first time in 2007. They are very aware of there role as pioneers in shaping GSMST's potential. There were some days during the past school year that they found the demands of their studies to be overwhelming. There was high praise for the support offered to them by their peers and by the teachers. A high point of the year for this class was a TelePresence arranged to connect the GSMST student to students in Bangalore, India. The experience helped them realize just how technology is touching everything that is happening in the world. The message from the Sophomore Class is that GSMST is not a school for nerds. It is a school for students who want to work very hard in Science, Math and Technology while also enjoying opportunities in Foreign Language, Arts, Language Arts and Social Studies and all the clubs the school has to offer.

Thanks goes out to Mr. Chris Gegen and the members of GSMST's Digital Media Club, Asma, Noor & Bradley, for providing background on the school and for sharing their dreams.

Nikhil, GSMST's Student Government President, provided this quote:
Students who have an attitude for hard work and an aptitude for Math and Science will be successful at GSMST.

View video provided by GSMST website

Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology

Boot Camp for Freshman at GSMST

How do you measure a school or the success of a student? If you are an incoming Freshman at the Gwinnett School for Mathematics, Science and Technology (GSMST), the school part starts with an assignment in Boot Camp, a one-week summer intensive that orients new students to the expectations and rigor of this charter school.

Gathering the dimensions of the school is an actual assignment from Mr. Garrison, one of GSMST's math teachers. With mathematical guidance, simple tools and helpful partners, the students experience a typical assignment - hands-on, creative and technical.

One measure of success at GSMST are the stories of the individual students.

The Freshmen: Ning, Jeremy, & Ahanth

The Freshman Class has approximately 250 students who had a strong interest in Math, Science and Technology and were selected from a lottery of nearly 500 students. Boot Camp is designed for them. Transition from middle school to high school can be a challenge, but it is more so at a school where the courses are demanding at taught at an accelerated. Parents and students are on hand the first day of Camp to meet the teachers, understand expectations and experience a typical day. Members of GSMTS's Sophomore Class are on hand to serve as mentors to the new students. Their advice - know that the work will be hard, learn to manage your time, and get ready for an amazing experience.
By the end of the week, the Freshman were enthusiastically looking forward to the start of the new school year in August. The were eager to meet new friends who shared common interests and were looking forward to being challenged academically.

Thanks goes out to Mr. Chris Gegen and the members of GSMST's Digital Media Club, Asma, Noor & Bradley, for providing background on the school and for sharing their dreams.

View Video provided by GSMST website

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reading Camp at Grady High School

Demarkcus and Jacob Hackett Build Vocabulary Skills

Mastery Through Fluency is the theme of the Reading Camp held at Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia. The four week camp offers remediation in reading skills using phonics, phrases and stories and a helpful dose of students coaching each other in the tasks set up by instructors, Jacob Hackett and Mecca Handy. "When fluency improves, comprehension follows", says Mr. Hackett.

The students spend four hours per day, five days per week in activities designed to provide a concentrated intervention to bring students up to reading on grade level. In line with the data driven approach and research-based methods that define Reading Camp, all students are tested at the beginning and at the end of the experience. Great Leaps curriculum is the major source of instruction.

A typical day at camp begins with two hours of reading instruction, lunch then afternoon activities designed to build personal confidence and cooperative team skills.

Student Intern, Stephen, provides assistance to the instructors and students along with what he calls peer motivation. He first came to this program to add to his Community Service Hours. He has come to see that not being able to read well does not mean that the students he is working with are not smart. Reading Camp participants report that they attend Camp to get more help with reading, to stay out of trouble, at the urging of a family member and respect for the Camp instructors.

Instructors and students alike are looking forward to a trip to Sapelo Island as the culminating activity of Reading Camp 2008. The students will see a part of Georgia new to them and explore the history, literature and culture of the island.

Additional funding for this project was provided by the Grady High School Foundation, the Grady High School PTSA, Walmart and Wolverine World Wide, Inc.

Reading Camp's
most important resource are the young people who have the courage and make the commitment to become better readers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Business Supports Education in Georgia

Exploring Two Programs

EMPOWER Entrepreneurial Summer Program
Shirley Franklin, Mayor of the
Atlanta, launched the Mayor’s Youth Program in 2005. Opportunities for students in the Atlanta Public School system and children of Atlanta City workers. High School Seniors in the program receive assistance and advice about college options and preparation for paid summer internships in the Metro Atlanta area. By adopting High School Seniors in this outreach initiative, the Mayor encourages high school graduation and plan to bridge the transition from high school to next stage in a student’s live whether that is post-secondary education or entry into the world of work.

Mayor Franklin’s program receives administrative assistance from the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency (AWDA) in the form of Education Development Services, Career Development Services, Saturdays with the Mayor and Cyber Centers.

The Mayor’s Youth Program, and AWDA join Colgate-Palmolive, Kroger and Atlanta Technical College to launch EMPOWER, an entrepreneurial Summer Program for 25 high school seniors selected from the Mayor’s Program. EMPOWER stands for "Entrepreneurial Mentoring Preparing Our World Through Education". Participants will have a 6-week experience of classes, internships and field experiences designed to help them develop the confidence and skills needed to start their own business.
For more information on the EMPOWER program in Atlanta and Baltimore, contact Amy Fernand

Community Coaches
Gov. Perdue challenged Georgia’s Business Community to support education throughout the state. The Georgia Department of Education (DOE)
and Communities in Schools (CIS) collaborated in 2007 to create Community Coaches in response to the Governor’s challenge. Business leaders across the state have volunteered to support Graduation Coaches and to bring the business community into the schools.
For more information on Community and Graduation Coaches, contact Tom Roman,

Friday, June 13, 2008

Making Friends in High School

DuBois Scholars Mentor Middle School Students

On a Saturday in February, 2008, the W.E.B. DuBois Society hosted an event at Spelman College that featured Step UP Workshops for middle school students. The workshops are part of a 20-week enrichment program of seminars and field trips. The Step UP Workshops are conducted by the high school students, know as DuBois Scholars, who serve in a mentoring role to middle school students and were the workshop leaders.

Circle of Support:
Finding the Right Groups and Connections. There are many opportunities to become involved in the life of your school, but choosing what peer groups, activities and adults with whom to connect can be overwhelming. This presentation will offer insights into the breadth of the relationships and connections necessary to support you during high school, why making these connections is important to developing yourself as a unique and interesting person, tips to guide your choices and the value in refining and often changing your choices along the way.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Making the Transistion from Middle School to High School

W.E.B. DuBois Society Helps Students Make Good Choices

On a Saturday in February, 2008, the W.E.B. DuBois Society hosted an event at Spelman College that featured Step UP Workshops for middle school students. The workshops are part of a 20-week enrichment program of seminars and field trips. The Step UP Workshops are conducted by the high school students, know as DuBois Scholars, who serve in a mentoring role to middle school students and were the workshop leaders.

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Often the transition to high school will mean a new school – private or public. This presentation will explore and offer a perspective on the challenges, opportunities and feelings of discomfort that can come with being in a new environment with different people and potentially different cultures; meeting new people, new and/or different rules; the need to let go of old behaviors, habits and friendships and develop new behaviors, habits and friendships; and to confront the fears or concerns that can sometimes accompany all of this change and personal growth.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Students Overcome Obstacles to Success

Thomson High School Youth Conference

Pat Farner is the Graduation Coach at Thomson High School in McDuffie County. In January, 2008, she organized a Youth Conference for her students. The conference theme was "Overcoming Obstacles to Success". During the event, students that Pat works with shared the challenges that they face in successfully completing high school education. Their personal strength and determination along with support from families, friends, Thomson High School faculty and Pat, their Graduation Coach, were resources they could call upon to make a difference in successfully reaching education goals.

Thank you to Pat and Thomson High School for providing the videotape from the Youth Conference.

Ben Hill Co. Students Honored for Achievement

Communities in Schools of Georgia Honor State Winners

Keith Chaney, Jamal Hatcher and Damel Carter from Fitzgerald High School in Ben Hill County are three of the state winners in the annual Student Achievement Month contest that Communities in Schools sponsors yearly for CIS students in grades K-12.
The contest begins at the local level in October and moves through regional and state levels. Written Expression, Public Speaking, Creative Expression and Computer Technology. State winners along with family and friends are invited to Atlanta to celebrate their success and to have the opportunity to share their stories with state legislators.

Jamal Hatcher, High School Creative Expressions Winner

Keith Chaney, High School Computer Technology Winner

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Transition from Elementary to Middle School

A Day in the Life

At the end of the school year, most students thing about their summer vacation. For students making the transition from Elementary to Middle School, those dreams of summer fun can be interrupted by nightmares of what the first days of middle school might be like. Will they get on the right school bus? What they make the right decision about that first day of school outfit to wear? The worst fear for some is the school locker.

The faculty, students and staff of Richard Hull Middle School in Gwinnett County addressed these fears with a video project called A Day in the Life. This engaging and Cine award winning video plays out the fears that 6th grade students might have. It then shows the potential students what to expect in a real first day of Middle School. There is even a happy ending to the school locker adventure.
A video clip from A Day in the Life is provided here through the courtesy of Richard Hull Middle School. More information on this project can be found at the school's website. Christopher Gegen wrote and directed the project.

Enjoy those summer dreams!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

XV Annual Bus Trip Across Georgia

The Bus Stops Here - To Highlight Success

The 15th annual Bus Trip Across Georgia pulled into the last stop of 13 school visits in October, 2007. You can join the tour via a short video from Georgia Public Broadcasting's Digital Library or for a longer tour from the website of Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. The Bus Trips are annual events with a rich history of highlighting achievement and best practices in Georgia's schools. Representatives from business, colleges and universities, government and education ride both the North and South routes and in the process are inspired to match their prior knowledge with the reality of the classroom.

The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, founded in 1990, is a non-profit, independent organization with a focus on efforts to shape policy and to reform public education in Georgia. It also serves as a source of information and research for individuals and groups interested in learning more about policy and issues that effect Georgia's schools.

Dates have been selected and the routes planned for the XVI Annual Bus Trip Across Georgia. Contact the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education if you want more information on the North route (October 28-30) or South route (November 18-20).