GOODNEWS: Teacher honored for gifted coaching

PEACHTREE CORNERS -- A Gwinnett County Public Schools teacher who is wrapping up her career in education after nearly four decades was recently honored for the work she has done in coaching gifted education students for an annual international competition.

Kathy Russo, a gifted advanced content mathematics and intervention teacher at Simpson Elementary, was recognized this spring as the Georgia Future Problem Solving Program's Coach of the Year.

Russo led the Simpson Elementary team to a first place finish in the state competition this year. It marks the last competition for Russo as she retires at the end of this school year after 38 years of teaching, 22 of those in Gwinnett.

She joined Gwinnett County Public Schools in 1990 as a special needs and gifted education teacher at Berkeley Lake Elementary. In 1993, she became part of the inaugural staff at Simpson Elementary helping to open the school.

Russo earned her bachelor's degree in special education from Jersey City State College, a master's degree in special education from William Paterson University, and a specialist's degree in brain research-brain SMART teaching from Nova Southeastern University.

In addition, she is certified in the following gifted fields: mathematics, language arts, science and social studies; and in the following special needs areas -- learning disability, language arts, mathematics, science and social science.

The Georgia Future Problem Solving Program engages students in critical thinking and creative problem solving. As part of the competition, students participate as part of a team or individually using their knowledge and skills guided by a six-step formula to solve future problems. The students can solve the problems through writing or activities, depending on the category.GGC celebrates golden achievementLAWRENCEVILLE -- Georgia Gwinnett College recently hosted a reception for the design and construction teams responsible for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification awarded to the GGC Library and Learning Center by the U.S. Green Building Council.

During the reception, attendees viewed a special plaque that will hang in the foyer of the library.

GGC's facility is one of only seven Gold-certified academic libraries in the nation and the first in Georgia. The building also is the fifth Gold-certified facility in Gwinnett.

"From the start, our students made it very clear that they wanted their college to uphold the highest standards of environmental responsibility and stewardship," said GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman. "Earning a LEED Gold certification is a testament to our students' collective vision, our staff's dedication to that vision, the insightful skills of the building's designers at Leo A. Daly and the quality work by Potts Construction of Conyers."

The LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of sustainable buildings. By using recycled materials and consuming less energy, LEED-certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the community.

The international architecture, planning, engineering, interior design and program management firm Leo A. Daly answered the challenge with a design that surpassed expectations, as the college had requested that the building achieve LEED Silver certification.

Recycling and reusing materials during construction was another area of emphasis. More than 95 percent of the construction waste was diverted from landfills to local recycling facilities.

Almost 95 percent of the reinforced steel used was recycled from scrap cars. The building's drywall is made of 95 percent recycled content and is a by-product of industrial waste material. All the wood ceilings in the building are fabricated from 97 percent recycled materials. Additionally, more than 30 percent of the recycled content had been originally used within a 500-mile radius of the site.

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