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Central Gwinnett cluster schools to launch foundation Sept. 15

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Staff, students and parents in the Central Gwinnett Cluster of Gwinnett County Public Schools have cause to celebrate on Sept. 15.

It marks the start of the cluster's first-ever foundation to fund academic endeavors not covered by the school's budget.

Made up of school staff, faculty and administrators from 10 schools as well as parents with children in the cluster, the Central Gwinnett Cluster Foundation "will greatly benefit students," said Beverly Dryden.

As a former school administrator in the system and the mother of two that graduated from Central Gwinnett High School, Dryden speaks from experience.

Dryden said it's the first of its kind for students in the Central Gwinnett area.

It's not, however, the first of its kind in the school system. There are more than a dozen cluster-based foundations in the Gwinnett County Public School System as well as an umbrella GCPS Foundation.

The role of the overall GCPS Foundation is to look out for the system as a whole as it applies for state and federal grants as well as corporate donors.

Donors can give money to the GCPS Foundation, which can earmark dollars for a specific cluster.

Most recently, the GCPS Foundation raised $67,000 during its Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony earlier this spring. The funds were allocated to support additional academic programs during the 2011-12 school year.

Money raised during the hall of fame event is being used in funding a summer Advanced Placement professional development session for teachers.

Central Gwinnett High School Principal Nancy Martin said the cluster has already had a "great outpouring of interest as well as contributions."

She said the Sept. 15 cluster launch will allow a council to "grant some wishes here."

Martin said one of the projects that could be looked at is a "vertical team.

"A vertical team in math or writing would mean teachers from all age groups would get together and look at the curriculum across the content areas and across the grades," Martin said.

Such projects would not be doable without the Central Gwinnett Cluster Foundation, she said.

Assembled in January, the 50-person council has been looking forward to the launch date for many months.

"It's a very big deal," Martin said.

For more information on the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation Fund, visit www.gcps-foundation.org.