Annual Bus Trip Across Georgia stops at Gwinnett Tech

LAWRENCEVILLE - Education stakeholders on Thursday visited the D. Scott Hudgens Jr. Early Education Center at Gwinnett Technical College, the sixth of seven stops on the north route of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education's 16th annual Bus Trip Across Georgia.

The riders on the two buses were greeted by Hudgens Center students dressed like characters in popular children's books, including "The Cat in the Hat," "Goodnight, Moon" and "Where the Wild Things Are." Participants on the tour included administrators, teachers and counselors from school systems throughout Georgia, college administrators, executives from business and industry, and representatives from the state Department of Education, the Georgia PTA, the Georgia Association of Educators, Teach for America, Junior Achievement, the Woodruff Foundation and Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The annual bus trip, which began in 1993, serves to honor achieving schools with a record of excellence and showcase best practices that might be adaptable elsewhere, according to a news release. The Hudgens Center was one of 13 schools in the state to be selected for the tour and was chosen from a pool of 100. This year's theme was "Strengthening the Pipeline to Graduation."

"Programs such as the Hudgens Center are preparing the state's children for the education challenges ahead," said Stephen Dolinger, president of the Georgia Partnership. "This program is especially exciting because it also serves as a training ground for early education teachers who are enrolled here at Gwinnett Tech."

The Hudgens Center serves children aged 6 weeks to 8 years old, providing infant and toddler care, preschool, Montessori classes, Georgia pre-K classes and before- and after-school care. The 26,000-square-foot, two-story facility opened in August 2006.

"It's a great honor for The Hudgens Center to be recognized by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education in just our second year of operation," Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Bartels said. "It's also great to see the role of early education highlighted. Quality early education is vital for success in all levels of education and improving early education directly and positively improves our communities."

Becky Olsen, the director of the Hudgens Center, was pleased the school was showcased on the tour.

"As a lab school for Gwinnett Tech's early education program, our sole purpose is to model the best practices in the field and to provide an education at the highest level of quality in a nurturing environment to our children," Olson said. "It's gratifying to know that we're hitting the mark."