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GOOD NEWS: Teachers named to elite class

SUWANEE -- Thirty Gwinnett County Public Schools teachers will return from their summer break in August and take part in a districtwide leadership development program. The teachers were selected to take part in Gwinnett's Teachers as Leaders Class of 2013.

The program is designed to provide teachers with leadership skills that aim to enhance student learning. The curriculum covers a broad spectrum of leadership principles and provides opportunities for class members to explore leadership skills through a series of retreats and program days that include meeting with community, state and national leaders in both education and business.

The program also includes a study group component that encourages discussion about how each program component relates to leadership. The teachers selected for the program will be challenged to expand and extend the pursuit of excellence in the classroom, the educational community and the community-at-large for the purpose of improved instruction and individual student success.

Teachers selected for the honor include the following: Sheryl Ackers, Dacula High; Cecilia Anderson, Anderson-Livsey Elementary; Brandon Bell, Nesbit Elementary; Kara Bohannon, Norcross Elementary; Lynne Bombard, Peachtree Ridge High; Sheri Boutin, Camp Creek Elementary;Hope Boyd, Jenkins Elementary; Mona Brawley, Partee Elementary; Jennifer Chambers, Trickum Middle; Darryl Colley, Mountain View High; Veronica Crawford, Grayson High; Jennifer Dalton, Harbins Elementary; LaTonya Davis-Ross, New Life Academy of Excellence; Kinsey Edwards, Lanier Middle; Lynn Fagan, Walnut Grove Elementary; Katie Ford, Hopkins Elementary; Paula Fowler, North Gwinnett High; Monique Frazier, Bethesda Elementary; Karlene Hamilton, Lawrenceville Elementary; Kimberly Hobgood, Rock Springs Elementary; Brian Howe, McConnell Middle; Melissa Jeffers, Riverside Elementary; Grace King, Monarch School; Elizabeth Loos, Kanoheda Elementary; Logan T. Malm, Norcross High; Jody Mathews, Starling Elementary; Nancy McLellen, Mason Elementary; Rebecca Mdabe, Peachtree Elementary; James Meadows, Cooper Elementary; Casey Nestor, Harris Elementary; Erica Parkman, Duluth Middle; Karen A. Phillips, Trip Elementary; Vanessa Platto, Creekland Middle; Jennifer Prince Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology; Alison Stover, Beaver Ridge Elementary; Amy Toro, Shiloh Elementary; Emily Treuman Phoenix High; Melissa Van Sant, Craig Elementary; Derico White, Sweetwater Middle; and Whitney Young, Ivy Creek Elementary.Primerica donates to GCPS Foundation FundSUWANEE -- The Primerica Foundation is supporting Gwinnett students' graduation efforts through a $25,000 donation to the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation Fund Inc.

The grant will be used to assist with the expansion of a credit recovery program for over-aged 8th grade students. The STEP Academy for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Targeted Education Program, launched as a pilot program last school year at one of the district's middle schools, supports students who are working to get back on track academically.

"There are a number of factors that contribute to students falling in the over-age category. This is a serious issue and data confirms that intervening early is crucial," explains Mary Elizabeth Davis, Gwinnett's executive director of curriculum and instruction. "The financial support from a prominent partner such as Primerica is essential to the growth of programs like this. Our community recognizes that the price of failing to intervene is exponentially higher to the student and to the community."

Studies show that as few as 13 percent of students who enter ninth grade one or more years above average age successfully advance through the required high school credits to graduate within four years. The STEP Academy pilot program, established by a $600,000 federal Race to the Top grant, has surpassed all initial benchmarks with students regaining on average two or more semesters of academic credit. In its first year, Gwinnett had a 94 percent success rate. Out of 62 eighth-grade participants, 58 will start high school in August as 10th-graders, having caught up with classes.

In addition to helping students graduate on time, the program sets a career pathway for them as GCPS has partnered with Gwinnett Technical College and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. The partnership introduces participating students to dual enrollment opportunities and certificate programs.

Frank Reddy writes about education. Good News from Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Daily Post.