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GaDOE Updates Newsletter: October 9

Good afternoon! Welcome to the 11th edition of GaDOE Updates, a newsletter from the Georgia Department of Education. This is a space for news, information, and spotlights on K-12 public education in Georgia. (You can also keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter.)

Remember: Send your tips, ideas, and events to Meghan Frick at, and Matt Cardoza at
Georgia Education Leadership Institute: After Sandy Hook, building a legacy of safer schools
It’s been almost two years since the day Sandy Hook Elementary School became national news. Almost two years since response vehicles flooded the school’s parking lot. And almost two years Michele Gay’s youngest daughter, Josephine, has been gone. But Gay, tireless, has not stopped fighting for Josephine. Her Safe and Sound: A Sandy Hook Initiative has become a force in the push for safer schools. Gay and Alissa Parker – whose daughter, Emilie, was another of the children who died at Sandy Hook – are adamant about empowering schools and their communities to improve security. At our Georgia Education Leadership Institute, Gay spoke with Georgia school leaders about preventative measures that could have made a difference at Sandy Hook – and still could, in schools all over the country.
Read the story here.
Teachers talk civic engagement on Constitution Day
Last month, Georgia educators spent Constitution Day immersing themselves in the ins and outs of civic engagement and preparing to take that knowledge back to their students. The result of a collaboration between the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Center for Civic Engagement and the Georgia Humanities Council, the event brought together 300-some eighth-grade Georgia Studies teachers at the State Capitol.
“It is essential that our students leave our schools with an understanding of Georgia’s constitution, of its structure and the checks and balances and rights it guarantees, of the role of government – and the role of citizens – in maintaining those rights,” State Board of Education Chair Helen Rice said as the workshop opened. “When we educate our students about government and civics and the society in which they live, we are empowering them to make meaningful contributions to that society.”
Read the story here​.

Around DOE lately
-We’ve asked for flexibility from our ESEA waiver so that we can delay, for one year, high-stakes consequences related to the use of student growth measures in new teacher and leader evaluation systems.
From Dr. Barge: “As we transition to a new assessment system, we need additional time before incorporating student growth in high-stakes personnel decisions. A one-year delay will ensure that teachers and leaders are aware of the impact of more rigorous standards and high-quality assessments, and that they have time to amend instructional practices and engage in the necessary professional learning.”
Learn more here.
-We recently announced that the Forsyth County, Oconee County, Jefferson City, and Chickamauga City school systems have been honored as Title I Reward Districts, and Jefferson Middle School and Stewart County Middle School have been recognized as National Title I Distinguished Schools. Many congratulations to these districts and schools – you can learn more here.
-Also cause for celebration: eight Georgia public schools received the prestigious National Blue Ribbon designation this year. Congratulations to Wadsworth Magnet School for High Achievers, Medlock Bridge Elementary, Lake Oconee Academy, South Forsyth Middle, Centralhatchee Elementary, Elite Scholars Academy, Stallings Island Middle, and Big A Elementary. Learn more here.
-Dr. Barge named the members of his 2014-15 Parent Advisory Council in September. These parents will meet three times this year with the Superintendent to discuss education issues in Georgia, with a focus on increasing parent and family engagement. See the list of 14-15 PAC members here.
Georgia’s public schools in the news
Gwinnett Public Schools wins second Broad Prize | AJC:
Dunwoody Elementary earns rare STEM certification | 11alive:
Jenkins students get hands-on engineering experience | Savannah Morning News:
5 schools use different tools to help pupils | Gainesville Times:
Giving young readers confidence (and puppy cuddles) | Atlanta Magazine:
Save the date
Oct. 11-19: Barnes & Noble Educator Appreciation Days. Pre-K-12 educators receive 25 percent off classroom and personal purchases. Other perks: Enter to win a NOOK or $500 B&N gift card; various receptions and giveaways at individual stores.
Oct. 20: Parent Engagement Month Kick-Off Celebration, Georgia State Capitol North Wing, 11 a.m.
Oct. 20-21: The Georgia STEM Forum, Athens. Register here.
Oct. 23-24: Georgia School Public Relations Association Annual Conference. Conference registration (by TODAY, Oct. 9): More info:
Dec. 3: Deadline for submissions to the State Botanical Garden’s statewide art competition. Drop submissions off in the lower level of the Callaway Building at the Botanical Garden or mail to Connie Cottingham, 2450 South Milledge Avenue, Athens, GA, 30605. Guidelines: Entry form: More info:
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