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GOOD NEWS FROM SCHOOLS: Gwinnett teacher celebrates retirement with former students

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Jo Beth Stoecker, who recently retired after teaching for 20 years at B.B. Harris Elementary School, celebrated her career with many of the children she taught.

Stoecker began her career in education in 1970 and taught for a total of 32 years. (She took eight years off to have three children.) For the last 14 years of her career, she taught English to Speakers of Other Languages at Harris Elementary.

As an ESOL teacher, Stoecker often taught two or three children from the same family. When she retired, she decided to celebrate with the many families she had grown close to over the years.

On June 5, about 170 people attended Stoecker's retirement party at McDaniel Farm Park in Duluth. She wanted to throw a party on a farm, and while she was searching for a location, she discovered the park.

Although she taught three miles away from the park, Stoecker had never visited it. She said she was enthralled by the nostalgic charm of the park, which was restored to depict a typical 1930s farm in Gwinnett County.

Working with Susan Pollack, the park's caretaker on the weekends, Stoecker planned the party, complete with a petting zoo, carnival games, potato sack races and a picnic.

During the party, Stoecker sat under the pavilion and shared her last story with the children.

At the end of the event, a 4-year-old girl said in broken English, "Thank you give us fun."

11 graduates

presented with scholarship

A group of recent Gwinnett County Public Schools graduates were notified that they will receive additional financial assistance for their college careers.

The 11 graduates earned the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's College-Sponsored National Merit Scholarship. These 11 Gwinnett graduates are part of a group of only 2,800 students from across the nation who received the honor, according to the school system.

The scholarship winners earned the award based on their high school academic performance. They each have earned a scholarship worth between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.

The 2010 Gwinnett scholarship winners are:

* Justin P. Aspinwall, Norcross High -- National Merit University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Scholarship

* Phillip S. Cheng, Brookwood High -- National Merit Georgia Institute of Technology Scholarship

* Matthew F. Hooper, Brookwood High -- National Merit Georgia Institute of Technology Scholarship

* Grace J. Oh, Peachtree Ridge High -- National Merit Georgia Institute of Technology Scholarship

* Claire E. Putnam, Peachtree Ridge High -- National Merit Emory University Scholarship

* David L. Rhodes, Parkview High -- National Merit Georgia Institute of Technology Scholarship

* Shelby J. Schuller, Peachtree Ridge High -- National Merit Georgia Institute of Technology Scholarship

* Emily R. Summerbell, Collins Hill High -- National Merit Vanderbilt University Scholarship

* Jennifer E. Taylor, Parkview High -- National Merit Georgia Institute of Technology Scholarship

* William M. Teich III, Collins Hill High -- National Merit University of Georgia Scholarship

* Daimeng Yin, North Gwinnett High -- National Merit Georgia Institute of Technology Scholarship

Each sponsoring college or university selected its scholarship winner from among the finalists in the 2010 National Merit Scholarship Program who were planning to attend their institution. Exactly 201 higher education institutions are sponsoring scholarships through this program this year.

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