Good news from schools

Two Gwinnett County science teachers who go the extra mile to motivate and inspire their students will soon be honored by the Siemens Foundation.

Ken Leach, a biology and oceanography teacher at Collins Hill High, and Patricia Caldwell, an eighth-grade physical science teacher at Richard Hull Middle, and eight other metro Atlanta teachers will be honored Oct. 3 at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History during the Siemens Science Teacher Awards program.

Many of the honored teachers participated in Fernbank's UrbanWatch Atlanta initiative, an environmental education program that trains students and teachers to conduct biodiversity inventories of their local green spaces. Teachers were also selected for the award by their county science coordinators, who chose honorees for their dedication, initiative and creativity.

Leach, who has been teaching for 21 years, teaches his students about ocean conservation and sustainability by using a coral propagation farm in his classroom. He also has his students do a forest population count on the school's campus.

Caldwall, who has taught for five years, helps students develop a view of how much science and math are connected to their lives. To demonstrate this point, she incorporated environmental studies into a math class and had students analyze data based on their water usage.

Sponsored by the Siemens Foundation in partnership with Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the Siemens' first green-inspired Science Teacher Awards ceremony will highlight environmental stewardship, a message at the core of Fernbank's programming.

Stone Mountain teen wins $5,000 service award

A Stone Mountain teenager is one of 10 young leaders to receive the 2007 Yoshiyama Award for Exemplary Service to the Community, according to The Hitachi Foundation.

Jasenka Basic will participate in a leadership retreat and be honored Oct. 16 at a luncheon at the National Press Club, in addition to receiving a $5,000 gift.

Jasenka, described as a "social entrepreneur," is being honored for creating an after-school tutoring program in 2006 for middle school children. As student director of the program, called Rise Above, Jasenka works with school counselors to match high school tutors with middle school students needing assistance. She's also training another student to manage the program when she leaves for college.

But Jasenka's leadership isn't limited to the tutoring program. She's also served as a volunteer tutor and summer camp counselor at Refugee Family Services, the organization that helped her as a Bosnian refugee. She's also a peer leader in her high school, helping teach conflict resolution techniques, and is a member of the Multicultural Club.

The recipients were selected by a diverse committee from 203 nominations submitted by community and business leaders, teachers and other youth.

The Hitachi Foundation was established as an independent nonprofit philanthropic organization by Hitachi Ltd. in 1985 to enhance the wellbeing of economically and socially isolated people throughout the United States. The Yoshiyama Award for Exemplary Service to the Community was established in 1987 with a generous gift from Hirokichi Yoshiyama, former president and chairman of Hitachi Ltd., in Tokyo, Japan, upon his retirement.

Peachtree Ridge PTSA plans teen safety driving forum

Peachtree Ridge's PTSA is inviting the community to attend its Teen Safety Driving Forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the commons area of the high school.

PTSA President Cheryl Maloof said she wants to inspire others to try to do something about the No. 1 killer of teenagers - car crashes. The event will feature a panel of speakers that will discuss driving laws, driver education classes and devices that monitor teens' driving habits.

Speakers will include a parent who lost her child in a car accident, a Gwinnett County police officer, the founder of a nonprofit organization that works to reduce the number of teens who die in car crashes and representatives from a business that sells car monitoring devices, as well as representatives from a driver's education program and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

Participants needed for "In Memory Of Walk-A-Thon"

A nonprofit organization that works to reduce the number of teens who die in car crashes is hosting a Walk-A-Thon next month.

It Won't Happen To Me, founded by retired Gwinnett police officer Bill Richardson, will hold the "In Memory of Walk-A-Thon" at 11 a.m.

Oct. 27 in Tribble Mill Park in Lawrenceville. Students and parents will walk in memory of teens who have lost their lives in car accidents.

A prize will be given to the people who raise the most money for the event, and applications and funds raised should be mailed in by Oct. 1 to ensure there are enough T-shirts and lanyards for participants. Applications can be turned in after that deadline, but participants won't be guaranteed a T-shirt or lanyard.

Money raised will go toward the organization's efforts to educate teens and parents about the dangers of driving.

For more information, visit www.itwonthappentome.org.

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