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Good news from schools: Foundation fund delivers autism resources to Gwinnett teachers

Gwinnett County Public Schools elementary school teachers now have new resources to teach and learn about autism.

New materials on this disorder are now available in the 66 elementary school media centers, as the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation Fund arranged for all county elementary schools to receive the "Autism Acceptance Book and Teacher Guide," according to a news release from the school district. The gift was made possible because of a partnership between the Foundation Fund and the Autism Speaks organization.

Autism Speaks, a national nonprofit organization, uses the book to raise public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families and society. By having access to these materials, GCPS teachers will have additional help with introducing the concept of autism to all children.

"As we work to integrate children with autism into the school and the community as a whole, it's important that we help others understand and accept them with their unique difference," said Susan White, the executive director of special education and psychological services. "These books are a great tool to foster this understanding and acceptance."

Teachers will use the book in one-on-one interactions with students, small groups or a whole class. Most schools also have made the book available for student checkout.

The Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation Fund is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to providing financial resources to enrich and enhance education in Gwinnett County Public Schools.

DECA competition scholarship available from GCPS

Terri Jondahl of CAB Inc. in October presented the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation Fund with a $2,500 check to start a scholarship for DECA students.

DECA is an international association of marketing students, and the scholarship will help fund the involvement of students in regional, state and international competitions.

Seven GCPS educators

named master teachers

Seven Gwinnett County Public Schools teachers have earned certification as master teachers through a statewide program created to honor experienced teachers recognized as an impact on student achievement.

The seven Gwinnett educators earned the certification by demonstrating strong student achievement gains as part of a comprehensive application process. These experienced classroom educators are part of the state's second master teachers class. The first class of 2006 included 25 GCPS teachers.

Gwinnett's master teachers this year are:

' Sallie Barrett of Richard Hull Middle

' Elizabeth Blackmon of Sweetwater Middle

' Maureen Brannen of Creekland Middle

' Doug Callahan of Glenn C. Jones Middle

' Sandra Kitchen of Creekland Middle

' Emily Spikes of Creekland Middle

' Diann Tyrell of Creekland Middle

The certified master teachers will be part of a pool of candidates who will be eligible to become Academic Coaches, serving as mentors for their peers. The coaches will dedicate part of their work day to work closely with other teachers.

Applications for the third class of master teachers began Nov. 1 and will be accepted by the Professional Standards Commission through Jan. 31. The selection process will begin in May.

GCPS recognized for

excellence financial reporting

The Association of School Business Officials International presented Gwinnett County Public Schools with its Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the 19th consecutive year.

The school system earned this latest recognition for exhibiting excellence in the preparation and issuance of the fiscal year end 2006 Comprehensive annual financial report, according to a news release from the school district.

"Gwinnett County Public Schools continues to provide timely, accurate and thorough financial reports," said Rick Cost, GCPS chief financial officer. "This recognition stands as further evidence of the school system's outstanding management practices and fiscal responsibility, characteristics that continue to inspire confidence among taxpayers as they know that their tax dollars are being spent, accounted for and reported in an appropriate manner."

The certificate of excellence in financial reporting program was designed by ASBO International to recognize school business officials achieving a high standard of financial reporting. The award, the highest recognition for school district financial operations offered by ASBO, is conferred to school systems that have met or exceeded the standards of the program.

The school district prepares the comprehensive annual financial report for audit purposes, for external users such as bond rating agencies and for use by other financial institutions.

Heather Darenberg writes about education. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.