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GaDOE Updates Newsletter: August 22

Good morning! Welcome to the eighth edition of GaDOE Updates, a newsletter from the Georgia Department of Education. Every other week, we send out a roundup of news, information, and spotlights on K-12 public education in Georgia. In between, keep up with GaDOE on Facebook and Twitter.

Remember: Send your tips, ideas and events to and We’re interested in ideas for in-depth feature stories, too.


Teacher Spotlight: Dr. Michelle Gowan on the slow rewards of making a difference

The 100,000+ classroom teachers in Georgia’s public schools are on the front lines of education. They’re nurturing dreams and showing children what’s possible. And they’re making sure students have the tools they need to make those dreams a reality. Teacher Spotlights, a recurring feature from the Georgia Department of Education, introduces you to those educators. To hear from Dr. Michelle Gowan, a gifted-education teacher in Bibb County, click here. She spoke with us this week about gifted ed, engaging students beyond their time in the classroom, and the difficult and important work of helping new teachers hold on to their passion. Here’s a photo from the opening of a times capsule Dr. Gowan buried with her students early in her career:

Teachers: Apply for a STEM Georgia Educator Laureate Award

The awards will reward Georgia K-12 classroom teachers for exceptional work in STEM; teachers are provided with a list of activities they can complete to earn digital badges worth specific points. The current award time frame runs from Aug. 18, 2014 to Aug. 1, 2015, and you can access further information here.


Around DOE lately

2014 ACT results released Wednesday show Georgia at the top of the pack among Southeastern states, outperforming Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, West Virginia and South Carolina. Georgia students also scored higher than those in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Arkansas, Hawaii, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. Learn more here and view scores here.


State Board of Education members are holding public hearings in their congressional districts, with the purpose of hearing comments from interested citizens and educators regarding the performance and problems of public education – including comments about the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts, as part of the State Board’s formal evaluation of these standards. Click here for more information and a schedule of upcoming hearings.


For those looking for examples of effective practices in Georgia, this site contains brief descriptions of successful instructional strategies and practices employed by teachers in Georgia schools. Each example includes both a brief description and contact information for an administrator or teacher who can provide more information.


Around the districts

We asked teachers, parents, and students around Georgia to send us their first day of school photos. The result: photos of future engineers, nervous first-day kindergarteners, sleepy first mornings, kickoff pep rallies and everything in between. View the album here


Plenty of good work went on this summer as well. The Rivers Eve Elementary PTA sent this photo from the school’s first Summer Bridge Program; it ran for three weeks and more than 150 students participated in project-based technology, math, STEAM, engineering and writing classes. The program allowed the school to challenge and support students and prevent a summer slide in learning, Principal Neil Pinnock said.


Georgia’s public schools in the news

DeKalb’s Towers High School leads the way in the goal to end bullying | WSB-TV:


From high school “nerds” to STEM celebrities (students attended Kennesaw Mountain High) | LinkedIn/Georgia Tech:

First day of school for some, last for others | Times-Georgian:


‘Our kids are making history’ | Gainesville Times:


Save the date:

August 24: Registration deadline for Atlanta Braves’ Home Run Readers program – K-12 students receive a free Braves ticket and free Subway meal for reading books and completing an online activity. Register here.


Sept. 10-12: Second Annual Georgia Education Leadership Conference. Register here.


Sept. 18: UGA College of Education State of Education Conference, Athens. Register here.


Oct. 20-21: The Georgia STEM Forum, Athens. Register here (early registration ends Sept. 19).


View previous newsletters: August 1, June 13, May 30, May 14, May 1, April 11, March 28