OUR VIEW: A very impressive week for Gwinnett County Schools

Students and faculty at Gwinnett County Public Schools took this past week off. Accolades for the school system did not.

Though class was not in session, there was plenty to celebrate for GCPS, which saw major announcements lauding a teacher, some individual schools and the system as a whole. Call it an educational trifecta.

The system was named a finalist for the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education, the third time since 2009 that GCPS is up for an award that pays $750,000 in scholarship funds to the winner. Gwinnett won the award in 2010.

The Broad Prize, sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, honors school districts that demonstrate educational improvement, especially for low-income students and minorities. As one of two finalists along with Orange County Public Schools of Orlando, Fla., GCPS is guaranteed $250,000 in scholarship money.

Winning school systems are not allowed to compete for the prize for three years after winning, meaning GCPS is back as a finalist in its first year of eligibility as a former winner.

“… It speaks to the fact that our very good school system is not content with the status quo,” CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said. “This recognition acknowledges that our work to help students succeed in a changing and competitive world is sustainable.”

More proof of that came from The Washington Post’s ranking of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools.” The Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology was ranked No. 1 in Georgia and No. 17 in the country. Joining GSMST on the Georgia list were North Gwinnett at No. 6 along with Norcross (No. 16), Meadowcreek (No. 18) and Lanier (No. 20).

At the teaching level, GSMST garnered more honors when Hyunjin Son was named a finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year. Son, who teaches physics and foundation of engineering and technology, is the GCPS Teacher of the Year and was selected as a state finalist out of 156 applicants.

In all, it was a very productive Spring Break for GCPS. And a credit to the work being done at all levels.

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