Good News from Schools: BAPS charity donates hundreds of pounds to GCPS

Members from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, GCPS Board member Louise Radloff and Berkmar High School all posed for a picture in front of the Berkmar Care Closet. (Staff Photo: Trevor McNaboe)

Representatives from Berkmar High School, Board of Education chair Louise Radloff and members of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu Temple in Lilburn gathered to celebrate the donation and collection of goods for the Berkmar Care Closet.

Hundreds of pounds were donated by the temple and BAPS charity, an international charity organization committed to sincerely serving the world by caring for individuals, families, and communities.

Radloff said the partnership between Gwinnett County and BAPS is just beginning.

Both Berkmar and Meadowcreek are two clusters that worked together on this project that sent food off to children in the school system that have a need over the Christmas break.

“This is an amazing partnership and we are really pleased to have the temple on board with us,” Radloff said. “We really look forward to a great working relationship.”

One way the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple was able to collect food was by encouraging guests that toured the temple to bring a canned food item

“We are so excited at BAPS to be a partner in this great cause,” a representative from BAPS said. “There is no greater time than the holidays to help if not many, atleast one child to have some meals.”

GCPS foreign language specialist earns award from France

The French Ministry of Education awarded Dr. Virin Vedder, a Gwinnett County Public Schools foreign language instructional specialist, with the Palmes Académiques (Order of Academic Palms) Silver Cross (Chevalier). The Order des Palmes academique is a national order of the Republic of France that recognizes distinguished academics and contributors in the fields of education and culture. The award was founded by Emperor Napoleon in 1805 and is bestowed upon French citizens or foreign nationals who make major contributions to the expansion of French language and culture.

Dr. Vedder’s work came to the attention of the French Consulate when its delegation visited Gwinnett’s French Dual Language Immersion (DLI) classrooms at Trip Elementary and French classrooms at the middle and high school level. Dr. Vedder says he is humbled by the award. He adds, “This award reinforces the value of what I enjoy doing every day. I’m honored that I can help expand knowledge of the French language and culture in my capacity. More importantly, this recognition spotlights the team members in our county, who work diligently each day to achieve these same goals.”

Dr. Vedder was among a group of GCPS teachers who piloted the first middle school Carnegie Unit French programs in the school district. He went on to open Trip Elementary School as an assistant principal. A role he filled when the school was selected to host the first GCPS French Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program which began with kindergartens in 2014. Those students are currently in 3rd grade and are in their fourth year of the program.

Dr. Vedder says without the support of many people, including Dr. Jon Valentine, director of foreign language, the school district’s DLI program would not be successful. He says, “This honor reflects the value GCPS places on foreign language education. We are supported by parents who want their children to recognize, understand, and appreciate our global community and ever-shrinking world. We’re very grateful that the French Ministry of Education has chosen to spotlight the strength of our programs with this award.”

The decision to include French at Trip as part of the DLI program was based on Vedder’s French language proficiency and his ability to support this complex and innovative new program. As a French-speaking administrator, Dr. Vedder had the

singular ability to interview and hire exemplary French-speaking teachers and to ensure that these teachers had the support they needed to successfully integrate French language and culture into daily instruction.

In 2015, Dr. Vedder transferred from the local school to the district level to provide additional support for world languages and DLI programs, first as an Instructional Coach, and then as an Instructional Specialist for Languages and Dual Language Immersion.

Meadowcreek High School Expands its Partnership with Travelers

This week, Meadowcreek High School announced it had become a partner of Travelers’ education program, Travelers EDGE (Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment). The program serves as a career pipeline to increase access to education for underrepresented students and prepare them for careers in the insurance and financial services industry. Travelers EDGE launched in 2007 and has partnerships with high schools and colleges, including Georgia State University. In addition to Georgia, the program serves students in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Maryland.

For the past three years, Meadowcreek High School and its School of International Business have collaborated with Travelers through InVEST, a program that seeks to improve insurance literacy in students and attract talent to the industry. Through this program, Travelers employees have provided more than 125 students with information related to insurance and the many careers within the industry. The new partnership with Travelers EDGE complements the work being done with InVEST.

“Meadowcreek High School is excited to enhance our partnership with Travelers and Georgia State University,” said Dr. Tommy T. Welch, principal of Meadowcreek High School. “Our top programs provide students with opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge needed for today’s colleges and careers.”

This fall, two students attending Georgia State University, who graduated from Meadowcreek High School, were accepted into Travelers EDGE. One is studying business management with a minor in computer information and the second is studying finance. Each student will receive comprehensive support over the next four years in academics, networking, finances, and exposure to the insurance industry.

“Expanding Travelers EDGE to Georgia is a big step for the program and Meadowcreek High School is the perfect partner,” said Tom Davis, second vice president of middle market at Travelers and Travelers EDGE liaison. “It will enhance our relationship with the school and with programs in the area such as InVEST, INROADS and The Posse Foundation, providing even more students with opportunities to succeed.”

I graduated from Brookwood High School and Georgia Southern University with a degree in Journalism. I cover news and education for the largest school system in the state of Georgia.