Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Graduation Rate

Announcement on Graduation Rate Increase

The Georgia Department of Education announces an increase in Georgia's High School Graduation Rate. The announcement and specific details are available in a recent press release.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Power of Story

Telling Stories
In telling and listening to stories, we discover the power of story comes in the sharing. We recognize something of ourselves in the story told by another. The gift is that stories can be told by anyone. Read on for some reflections on this topic.

On May 8, 2008, The Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the Office of the Governor, held the 23rd Annual Governor's Awards in Humanities. These awards go to individuals and citizens described by Gov. Perdue in the event's program as enriching "civic life at the local level" and building "character, a sense of community, and citizenship in Georgia".

Jamil Zainaldin, President of the Georgia Humanities Council(GHC) discusses the theme of story in his column for the organization's Spring, 2008 newsletter. In describing story as a core value of the organization's strategic plan, Dr. Zainaldin states that "stories and ideas help us understand ourselves and others". Elaborating, he says stories "help us know who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. It is also important for us to know the stories of others, as they set the context in which we interact."
Another core value statement in the strategic plan states that "thoughtful discussion and reflection enhance learning experiences". Dr. Zainaldin suggests that communication and community traditions have a role to play in this process.

Georgia Graduation Stories

The power of stories influenced the naming of this blog. The Georgia Graduation Stories blog is where stories can be shared about the journey students make from middle grade to high school. Success and challenges are both part of the story. Students, families, educators, community organizations can all tell their part of the story, and we will grow from what we hear from each other. Going digital in a blog format links the tradition of an art form with the world of new media and provides a familiar and accessible tool for students.

If you have a story to share, contact:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Defying the Odds Featured at DeKalb Co. Public Library

Literacy Program Features Defying the Odds

The DeKalb County Library System featured Defying the Odds this fall with screenings of the documentary at branch libraries throughout the system. The culminating activity of the series was a presentation by Pamela Roberts, producer of the award winning documentary. Pam and Videographer, Wayne Baumgardner, talked about their experiences following five students who were part of a larger group promised a college education by Merrill Lynch if these students graduated from High School. The documentary begins when the students are in the 10th grade and follows them through to their senior year in High School. The students, families and student mentor, Dr. Barbara Whitaker, all contribute to the stories.

Laura Hauser, in the DeKalb County Public Library Literary Services program, organized the Defying the Odds series. She introduced the program, shared clips from the documentary then invited the audience to participate in an informal discussion of reactions to factors that that all students face as they journey towards a goal of high school graduation. Family support, parent-school relationships and access to technology were some of the main points of conversation.

Defying the Odds first aired in 2002 and was awarded the National CINE Golden Eagle, The Best of Television (Society of Professional Journalists and first place for documentaries in The Green Eye Shade award. Producer Roberts provided a 2008 update on the lives of the 5 students featured in the documentary.

GPB Education's Barbara O'Brien joined the discussion to share the Resource Guide for Educators. This companion document provides the Defying the Odds themes, risk factors for students, strategies for working with at-risk youth, models for making good decisions and much more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Grants: Spend Money to Make Money


The old saying, “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” is certainly true. However, you can still be frugal in your spending. For example, many grants request you to send the application package (or, in the case of some online applications, separate paper copies of specific pages) by next day air. That can get expensive! Most overnight services offer a selection of delivery times at varying cost—later in the day is cheaper. And, in general the cheapest service still gets it there overnight – just sometime in the afternoon.

But, is next-day air really necessary? Maybe not. Sometimes second-day air will suffice – if you just need to have it delivered by a specific date. Have it delivered late in the day and – well, you do the numbers. You may be able to save more than 60% of what it would cost to send your package by next-day air. You still get all of the same services, though, including package tracking and assured on-time delivery.

Think of this the next time you are putting together a timetable for writing a grant. Back it up another week and save big if you are using overnight delivery.

Sandy Spruill is the Grants Administrator for Georgia Public Broadcasting and a member of the American Association of Grants Professionals.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Webcast: Solutions to the Dropout Crisis


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Connected Counseling:
Connecting Students to Success

presented by

Kitty Johnson

*Learn about an innovative approach to school counseling for All students.
*Find out how teachers and counselors can become advocates for students, helping them develop more positive attitudes towards school and thus stay in school with goals for the future.

Standards-based high school educational reform movements lead to the creation of the American School Counselors Association Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs. Saint Paul high school counselors across the district learned the model and created Connected Counseling: A Strategic Plan to Restructure St. Paul's High School Counseling Programs to raise graduation rates for all students.

Connected Counseling means students have connections to caring adults, supportive peers, challenging academic curricula, community partners, and the ability to create a Six Year Plan outlining their four years of high school and two years beyond. This broadcast will introduce you to Connected Counseling.

Supplementary materials are now available online. All necessary information about participating fully in this professional development opportunity is found on the website. For further questions, contact the National Dropout Prevention Center or call 864.656.2580.

Participation in this webcast is free and no registration is required. The program will be archived in its entirety on the website. On the day of the webcast, link to the broadcast.

If you have trouble with the link, copy and paste the entire address listed below into your web browser:


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Metropolitan Opera Project

Opportunity for Georgia Educators and Students

The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD returns this fall with eleven live, high-definition transmissions scheduled for world wide distribution during the 2008-2009 season. The season opens on Monday, September 22. The Met Opera website provides the season schedule and a synopsis of the operas.

Georgia Music Educators can be part of an exciting musical experiment that merges live performance with digital technology. Georgia Public Broadcasting and Georgia Music Educators Association collaborate to provide an opportunity for Georgia educators and students to participate in a project that combines the best resources of one of America's finest cultural institutions with new technology. GPB Education and Radio are offering complimentary sets of tickets to GMEA members and their students to attend the high-definition performances throughout the season at selected movie theaters in Georgia. Participation in the project supports Georgia's State Curriculum Standards.

Educators and students will have the feedback, reactions and pictures that they send to GPB posted on the Georgia Graduation Stories blog. Madison County High School students are featured in the picture above. Go to the April 17, 2008 post to learn more about the opera project that Music Educator Shirley Dillard designed for these students."> GMEA Choral Chair, Renée Wilson-Wicker, along with friends Aubrey, Abby and Victoria, attended The Metropolitan Opera's HD simulacast of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel in 2007-2008 season. Ms. Wilson-Wicker reports that this was the first opera experience for our young ladies, who enjoyed the experience immensely. Renée Flemming was the hostess for the production and took the audience backstage to learn about the costuming, set design, makeup, orchestral work and interviews with the performers during the opera intermissions. Ms. Wilson-Wicker said that she was amazed at the incredible learning opportunity provided by The Metropolitan Opera through this program and encourages educators to take advantage of the ticket program offered by GPB, GMEA and The Metropolitan Opera. She concludes that the experience is the next best thing to being at Lincoln Center and seeing it live!
Questions about this project should be sent to bobrien@gpb.org.

GPB's Opera Chat
In honor of Metropolitan Opera Project, GPB Radio will air a new program, Opera Chat, around the time of the monthly opera broadcasts. Opera Chat features Midday Music Host, Sarah Zaslaw, and Ms. Wilson-Wicker in conversation about the history, music and singers of the featured opera.

More Opera Information

The New Georgia Encyclopedia is an excellent source of information on Opera in Georgia. Another must see resource is GPB's own State of the Arts program and website. Be sure to check out the following segments:

January, 2006 Opera 101: GSU's Harrower Summer Opera Workshop

January, 2008 Leah Partridge: Rising Opera Star from Georgia

May, 2008 Atlanta Opera: Cold Sassy Tree

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Free Resources = Grant $$$


High Tech + Newsprint = $$$

Even in this high-tech world, sometimes just nothing beats the feel of newsprint – holding a real newspaper in your hand, folding it just so to make it easier to read and then tucking it in your briefcase for those “hurry-up-and-wait” times.

I have a free subscription to eSchool News for those very reasons! An added benefit is that it also entitles me to free access to eSchool News Online. The online version offers even more of the great news and resources supplied by eSchool News -- updated 24/7!

If you are reading my blog posts, then you need funding for your classroom and/or school. At eSchool News Online, you will find the latest Grants and Funding news, awards and deadlines including a new e-Rate Survival Guide.

Funding doesn’t exist in a vacuum, though. It is affected by so many other things. That’s why you will appreciate eSchool News Online’s insightful, in-depth coverage of the biggest stories of the day, updated daily with comments from your fellow educators along with today's latest news story.

The editors of eSchool News have assembled a variety of resource centers on the hottest topics in education technology. The resource centers are a collection of news and resources aimed at helping you sort out the complex challenges facing educators every day.

Finally, eSchool News Online provides powerful research tools inside their new Buyer’s Center, including over 10,000 company profiles. Their Technology Solution Center Buyer’s Guide, the new AV Buyer’s Guide and the new Security Buyer’s Guide will help you find essential information for budgets and budget narratives.

It’s hard to believe that all of this is free, FREE, FREE!

More than 190,000 educators have registered for free online access to eSchool News. You can join them! Sign up today and look for the registration quick link!

Oh – and if you are like me and love the feel of newsprint, you can also subscribe to the print version of eSchool News for free.

Sandy Spruill is the Grants Administrator for Georgia Public Broadcasting and a member of the American Association of Grants Professionals.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Graduation Coaches Introduced to GA Grad Stories Blog

GPB Attends Training for Georgia Graduation Coaches

GPB was invited to attend the recent training for Graduation Coaches sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education and Communities in Schools of Georgia. The 600 Coaches and Guidance Counselors from schools in North Georgia had workshop sessions that included topics such as mentoring, attendance intervention, transition from middle to high school and community partners. Training was provided to Coaches and Counselors in South Georgia last month.

Community organizations in attendance at the training gave a presentation to the whole group then provided resource tables for Coaches and Counselors to browse and ask individual questions. The organizations included: Georgia College 411, Gwinnett Technical College, Family Connections, Jr. Achievement and the Latin American Association.

GPB's presentation on the Georgia Graduation Stories blog got a warm reception from Coaches who stopped by the resource table for more information on how to add their stories to this website. They were encouraged to work with their students to add user-generated content, especially student-created multi-media in the form of digital pictures, video or audio clips. Georgia Graduation Stories blog provides a focus on academic struggles and successes as well as those efforts that are designed to impact Georgia's graduation rate.

The High School Graduation Coach initiative was introduced by Governor Sonny Perdue during the 2006 legislative session. The Coach's primary responsibility is to identify at-risk students then help those students succeed in school by keeping them on track academically to prevent the student making the decision to drop out of school. Georgia's High School Graduation Coach program is beginning the 3rd year with the 2008-2009 school year. A Middle School Graduation Coach initiative was created. It is beginning the 2nd year with the 2008-2009 school year. Tom Roman, Graduation Coach Coordinator, Communities of Schools in Georgia, says that the news of the success of the Graduation Coach programs has spread so far that he is getting requests for information on the program from all over the country.

Grant Writing Basics


Hopefully you have looked at the sites I recommended in my previous post (8.19.08 Grants for the Classroom) and have found some grant opportunities of interest. Now what?

Here are a few basics:
Make sure there is a good match between your project/funding needs and the grantmaker’s interests/requirements. Yours may be the best project ever, but if your classroom is in Georgia and the grantmaker funds only Iowa-based grant requests, you will be wasting your time to go for that grant. Find a good fit!

Make sure there is adequate time – 3 to 4 weeks, at least – to complete the grant application, get all the necessary administrative approvals and signatures, and submit the grant on time. Some grantmakers require that the completed grant application be in their office by a specific time on the date it is due. Others simply require a postmark (not a postage meter label) or proof of mailing through an overnight carrier on or before the deadline date. Make sure you know what is required and plan accordingly. If possible, request proof of delivery. Your carrier can tell you how to do that.

Make sure you set your personal deadline earlier – at least a week earlier – to incorporate additional time to allow for the unexpected. There are so many things that can go wrong: the copier breaks down; your car breaks down; a person whose signature is required is out of town; the Internet connection goes down; you run out of toner or ink for your printer or copier and all the stores are closed; etc. Never, ever, never plan to submit a grant application on the day it is due. Even submitting the day before can be risky. Grantmakers do not extend deadlines.

Make sure you have followed the grant application requirements exactly. Exactly. For example, if the grant narrative must be in 12-point type, don’t use a narrow version unless the grant guidelines tell you that is okay. One-inch margins mean exactly that – top, bottom and sides – not 0.9 inches. Is there a word or character limitation? Write and edit your draft in Word and check it against Tools>Word Count, editing until everything fits. And, yes, for “character count” include spaces.

And a few more words:
Collaboration! Funders love collaboration. It extends the impact and reach of their money. Find the right collaborator(s) – within your school or between schools – and you cut the work in half or better. The right collaborator(s) share your work ethic, your interest in the project to be funded, your attention to detail and your commitment to meet the deadline.

Checklists. Make two.
#1.) Go through the grant guidelines and list all items that must be included in the grant application package. Then prioritize and begin working your way down the list. For example, if letters of support are required, they should be high on the priority list to give your supporters plenty of time to write letters and get them to you.
#2.) List all narrative and budget requirements so you will include everything. Then check them off as you include them.

NOTE: Don’t skip this checklist creation step! Often grant requirements are buried somewhere in the verbiage of the guidelines and may be easily missed.

Correctness, completeness, clarity and coherence. Proofread to eliminate typos, misspellings, grammar and usage errors, etc. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is an inexpensive, invaluable little 56-page resource. Buy it. Use it. Then use Checklist #2 (above) to check for completeness. Finally, ask a friend or colleague who is not involved in the project to read the application for clarity and coherence. If that reader gets confused or lost in the application, so will the grant reader/evaluator who will be making the recommendation to fund or not fund your application. Re-write if necessary.

That’s all for now. More to come …

Sandy Spruill is the Grants Administrator for Georgia Public Broadcasting and a member of the American Association of Grants Professionals.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tell Your Students' Stories!

Share Successes and Challenges

Georgia Public Broadcasting, in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Education and Communities in Schools of Georgia, is gathering stories and interviews as well as video and audio clips that reflect the journey that middle and high school students make toward the goal of high school graduation.

We know that one story may not look like another. We welcome them all! We are particularly interested in user-generated content, especially student-created, multi-media videos, interviews, etc. of their academic struggles and successes. Let us hear the stories of those individuals or groups who have made a difference in the lives of the students.

If you would like to feature your students, your school and your efforts to impact the graduation rate across the state, please share this message with those in your school who can bring this project to life - especially the students themselves!

*Submissions can be sent in the following formats:
Digital Pictures: JPG, GIF or PNG
**Video Clips (30 min. or less): MOV, AVI, MPEG or WMV
Audio Clips: MP3

**Steps for Direct Upload for Video Content
GPB has now made it even easier for you to share your Georgia Graduation Stories.
Go to the link to directly upload your video.

Follow these simple instructions:
1. Register for an account. We will never share your information with third parties.
2. Log in
3. Fill out the simple form.
4. Done!

We'll receive a notification that you've uploaded a video. Once we approve it, you'll see it on this website!

The final product will be available in a variety of new media formats, including GPB's Georgia Graduation Stories blog:

Barbara O'Brien
Curriculum Contnet Specialist
Georgia Public Broadcasting


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Options for Education after High School

Georgia's Technical Colleges Offer Choices

Recently, Ron Jackson, Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia was in the GPB studio to talk about the colleges and the education options available to Georgia citizens through the offerings of TCSG. The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) is a unified system of technical education, custom business and and industry training and adult education.

Listen in to the conversation Commissioner Jackson had on the August 8, 2008 episode of Georgia Public Broadcasting's Radio program, "At Work with Emory Mulling". Some of the topics covered include the difference in curriculum between the Technical College and the University and the availability of the Hope Scholarship for use at the Technical Colleges.

Staying is School is Worth the Ride

This tag line provides an important message to students while succinctly describing a focus of Road Trip, an award winning monthly video series available both on the web and Georgia Public Broadcasting's Education Channel.

The 12 episodes in the series highlight the new age of technology while taking an interesting look at Georgia's Technical Colleges. Students at a fictional Georgia high school bring questions about life and career choices to the actors who play the high school counselors and administrators. Their answer is to have everyone pile into the star vehicle of the series (its orange) and on a Road Trip to the state's 33 technical colleges and three Board of Regents colleges. For the two career counselors, it is an opportunity to slow their county's alarming dropout rate and expose their student to the rewards of education by taking them on these visits to Georgia's Technical Colleges.

A Film Crew from West Georgia Technical College spent almost a year shooting on location to provide students and audiences alike get an "I never knew that " look at programs such as Culinary Arts, Animation & Multimedia, Veterinary Assistant and Robotics to name a few.
Road Trip is a production partnership between Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Technical College System of Georgia.