Monday, April 20, 2009

What Does Success in Schools Look Like?

Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement

At the first Quarterly Board Meeting of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) in Febuary, the topic was school improvement. The tone of the meeting was set by GPEE President Dr. Stephen Dolinger when he asked the opening questions:
*What Does Success Look Like?
*What Are Your Metrics?
*What Are You Measuring?

The presentation, Evidence of Impact: Seeing Bottom Line Results was offered by the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI) and three representative school systems in response to the theme raised by Dr. Dolinger's opening questions. Deb Page, GLISI's Senior Executive Director and Senior Practice Leader, provided a history and overview of the organization along with a compelling example of why a connected, sustained leadership training model makes a difference in the success of students and of the entire school community.

Dr. Wendy Ruona from the University of Georgia, spoke next on the research method, Success Case Methodology. In this part of the presentation, Dr. Ruona talked about the factors that make a difference towards change, capturing ways of doing the work, and providing evidence of and stories that point to change.

Three Georgia Superintendents who have worked with GLISI shared stories from their school systems and served on the panel that concluded the GPEE meeting.

View Opening Remarks and Presentations by Deb Page and Wendy Ruona

View Dade County's Definition of Leadership, Dade County Schools, Ms. Patty Priest, Superintendent

View Hancock County's Team-based Improvement of Student Achievement, Hancock County Schools, Dr. Awanna Leslie, Superintendent

View Implementing GLISI Initiatives to Increase the Graduation Rate in Jones County, Jones County Schools, Dr. Jim LeBrun, Superintendent

View Panel and Closing Remarks

Contact the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE)regarding details of the May 5, 2009 Quarterly Board Meeting.

Production Assistance was provided by Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Georgia Educator Recognized for Community Outreach

Art Educator Builds Bridges Between School and Community

The MetLife Foundation Ambassadors in Education Award recognizes outstanding educators in the public school system. Recipients of the Award are middle and high school educators who are building partnerships and communicating beyond their school for the betterment of the entire community. It is a project of the National Civic League and sponsored by the MetLife Foundation.

The winners for 2009 were announced recently, and a Georgia educator was among those 25 educators selected to receive the Ambassadors in Education Award.

Natalie Brandhorst, Art Educator at North Atlanta High School
, was cited for encouraging her students to engage in their community through art projects. Her students take on issues such as environmental sustainability and hunger. Ms. Brandhorst will receive a $5,000 grant because of her role in building bridges between the school and the community.

Atlanta Public Schools and the National Civic League provided the following information in recent press releases:
Recently, Ms. Brandhorst worked with students, parents and local Girl Scouts to raise awareness about hunger in Atlanta. Students and scouts used the school kiln to make hundreds of cermic bowls as part of an Empty Bowls hunger education project. For the culminating event, members of the [North Atlanta] community brought canned goods to the school.
Ms. Brandhorst was also recognized for partnering with area artists and local businesses to provide her students with quality art supplies.

Clarkston High School Student Presentations

Student Presentations at Clarkston High School

Students at DeKalb County's Clarkston High School are preparing for the spring round of their presentations. These presentations are based on an individual student's interests or career exploration and are developed over an extended period of the school year. The presentations may take the form of PowerPoint, speaches, demonstrations or fashion show just to list a few of the options. Clarkston High School Guidance Counselors and Graduation Coach advise the students and coordinate the presentations. Community members from such fields as the arts, medicine, law, engineering, and business are invited to serve as Judges over the week long schedule of student presentations.

Thank you to Joi L. Chester, Graduation Coach at Clarkston High for sending along the news of the presentations and the picture of students with Tom Roman, Communities in Schools of GA.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Webcast: Dropout Prevention in the Digital Society


Tuesday, April 14, 2009
3:30-4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Dropout Prevention in the Digital Society

presented by
Ms. Doris Settles

*How much do you know about the new digital world our students live in?

*What do you need to know to protect your students from its potential dangers?

*How can we use current technology to positively engage students in schools?

Being a teenager today is very different from when most of us reading this description were struggling with our own teen angst. Today students have no privacy, no "safe place," and an audience that is truly, truly global. All with the click of a mouse. They are the "digital natives." Doris Settles will discuss solutions for the adult community, "the digital immigrants," to make education, work skills and social interaction relevant, rigorous, and safe for these "digital natives. This always-on, always-connected environment is foreign to most of us, and the technologically immersed environment in which they live has little, if any, connection to the world run by adults, disengaging those already headed for dropping out even further. The solution, according to Settles, is to work together.

On the day of the webcast, log on 10-30 minutes early to ensure you are connected to the broadcast @

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. This webast is produced with support from Penn Foster. If you have trouble with the link, copy and paste the entire address listed below into your web browser:,P1,F063CEFD-2B16-4933-9440-BC7ACFDCF044

The Soloist: Preview Event at Georgia Public Broadcasting

Meet the Georgia Soloists

Communities in Schools and Georgia Public Broadcasting are hosting an empowering evening of student achievement. Preview exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes footage with host Chuck Faush from the movie, The Soloist.* Students will perform and receive recording masters of their performances gifted by GPB and nContrast. Pictured at a recent session at the GPB Performance Studio is Ramon Perez from CIS' Marietta City Performance Learning Center.

Thursday, April 23, 2009
6:30 Students' Red Carpet Entrance
7:00 Program
8:00 Reception

Click here to RSVP
Monday, April 13

*From The Soloist website:
The movie, staring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr., is based on a true story of a disenchanted journalist's transformation odyssey through the hidden streets of Los Angeles, where he discovers and builds a most unlikely friendship with a man from those same streets, bonding through the redemptive poser of music.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Encouraging Success in Science

Mercer University Science Majors in Mentoring Role

Students from Mercer University volunteer on a weekly basis at a Bibb County school. Honors Biology students are a regular presence this year at L. H. Williams Elementary School working with 5th grade students on science principals and experiments. Engaging these students' interest in science at such a young age is one of the keys to their individual success in school as well as for the potential of developing future career interests. One young student said that her eyes have been opened about how much fun science can be.

Here the full story on the April 2nd edition of GPB's Georgia Gazette.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Recognizing Achievement: Communities in Schools

CIS Recognizes Student Achievement Month Winners

CIS of Georgia recently held an awards program to recognize the winners of the 2008 Student Achievement Month. This year's contest received over 500 entries from elementary, middle and high school students who receive CIS services and are described by that organization as being sometimes overlooked and often expected to to underachieve. Thank you to Catherine Broussard, Communications Manager, CIS of Georgia, for sharing the stories for this blog post.

Thirty-nine students became regional winners with eleven being selected as state winners. Students were judged in categories of Art, Essays, Poems, Songs, Speeches and PowerPoint presentations. The eleven winners are: From CIS of Fitzgerald/Ben Hill County - Jamie Hendley, Alasia Simpson, Dennis Lightsey and Steven Home; from CIS of Colquitt County - Caleb Paige, Shakia Lattimore, and Chazmin Signletary. Evergreen Reed (CIS of Troop Co.), Deylah McCarty (CISof Athens/Clarke Co.), and Antavious Grier (CIS of Douglas Co.) were also state winners.


The following are highlights from the winners presented at the CIS Recognition Awards Luncheon Program held in Atlanta in March, 2009.

Deylah, pictured here with Cal Phelps (Wal-Mart Regional Director of Operations for GA and CIS Board Member), was a state winner in the Creative Expressions category. Her project is a 4-panel art project that traces the stages of her life and attitude about school. Click here to see Deylah's project and her description of its meaning.

Dennis was a state winner in the Computer Technology category. Click here to see his PowerPoint with a before and after theme that has him "Back in My Mind Right Side Up". Dennis is pictured here with his principal, Dr. Gail Stokes.

Antavious was a state winner in the Public Speaking category. The power of his story is the power of a committed mentoring relationship. Antavious and his mentor, Mrs. Judy Shaw are pictured here.

Here is his winning presentation:

Hello, how are you all today. My name is Antavious Grier. People watch my life, and might think that I’m living the life. You might think I have a great life, because I’m always smiling or having fun. My life was not always like that. I was a troublesome childe. I always got in trouble. I acted out all the time just to get attention. I was doing horribly in school.

In the third grade, I always fought at school. I always got in trouble. I lived in the principal’s office. I was a third grader reading on a first grade reading level. I hated to read. My parents were not in my life like they needed to be. My dad was never in my life and my mom was always tired. So I had no one to bounce my ideas off of. I had no one to talk to. When I was growing up, men around me always beat the women. That made me think that’s how you treat women. Some of the women around me acted like men. I was on the wrong track. It seem like I had nothing to live for as a kid.

CIS has had the biggest impact in my life. If it was not for them, I would not be the fine man that you see now. It was like an angel had come into my life by the name of Mrs. Judy Shaw. She was the sweetest person I knew. I am a senior in high school; Mrs. Shaw came in my life at a rough time. My parents were breaking up, and my grandmother was sick. My mother and I were always fighting. It seemed like to me that acting badly was the way I suppose to act, because that is the only thing I saw at home.

At the moment Mrs. Shaw came in my life, she was like the mother I never had. She came every week at her lunch just to talk to me. She gave up eating lunch just to talk to me. It was our thing; she would come every Tuesday or Thursday to my school. She used to always come and try to make me read books. I used to fight her everyday about reading books, but I always seem to read them to her. No matter what I had said to her she always came back the next week. It felt like she was not doing this because it was her job. She was this because she loved kids and she loved helping me.

She taught me how to read, and ten years later I read on a twelfth grade reading level. I was not the best math student either. She helped me, and now I am taking AP Statistics. I am on course for college. I have never failed a class thanks to her. I make all A’s and B’s. I have a 3.27 grade point average. She even helps me apply for college. Mrs. Shaw helped me in many different ways and aspects.

Mrs. Shaw was a lady. She dressed like a lady, she talked like a lady. She showed me how a lady is supposed to act. She showed me how a lady is supposed to be treated. She showed me how to say “yes ma’am,” “no ma’am,” “yes sir,” “no sir.” She taught me manners. She transformed a rough third grader into the fine man you see in front of you. You know you remember one person in your life that changed you for the better, Ms. Was that person. If it was not for the mentoring program and CIS, I would have never met her and I would have never been changed.

Digital Schoolhouse Conference for 21st Century Learning

Forsyth County Schools: Digital Schoolhouse Conferen
Technology Training for 21st Century Learners

On Saturday, March 28, educators from Forsyth County Schools gathered to hone their skills in creating a 21st Century learning environment for their students. The workshops and demonstrations for educators were organized under the heading of The Digital Schoolhouse.

Following the theme of Engage Me...With Technology, educators participated in a wide selection of workshop offerings geared to assisting them to provide new ways for using technology to engage their K-12 students. The generous schedule uncovered technology instruction through subjects such as Art, Poetry, Science, Virtual Communication and Language Arts. Georgia Public Broadcasting presented 2 sessions on the educational resources it offers to all educators in the state.

The Digital Schoolhouse Conference booklet states Forsyth County's vision for Digital Learning as using classroom technology to engage students in asking questions and choosing tools to facilitate real world problem solving. Chief Technology & Information Officer, Baily Mitchell, states that there should be no divide between instruction and technology instruction. There is only one thing - good instruction.

According to Director of Instructional Technology, Jill Hobson, the first Digital School House Conference was inspired by the experience of hosting a National School Board Association Technology Site Visit in 2005. The first Digital Schoolhouse took place in 2006 with the 2009 conference being the third of a growing tradition.