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GaDOE Updates Newsletter: December 1

Good afternoon! Welcome to the 12th 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.

In between newsletters, keep up with GaDOE on Facebook and Twitter. And send your tips, ideas, and events for GaDOE Updates to Meghan Frick at, and Matt Cardoza at


Teacher Spotlight: Melissa Niemi, Arnold Magnet Academy

In this edition of Teacher Spotlights, meet Melissa Niemi. She’s an eighth-grade physical science teacher at Arnold Magnet Academy in Muscogee County, and was one of seven U.S. teachers selected to participate in NASA’s Long-Term Engagement in Authentic Research program. We talked with her about NASA, project-based learning, and bringing science to life for students.

Here’s a sampling of that conversation: “It is vital for Georgia to promote STEM subjects and careers so our state can grow economically and compete in national and world markets. STEM is all about doing…STEM is hands-on. By allowing students to do and to touch and to experience, you give them a kind of knowledge that lasts a lifetime.”

Continue reading here.


How Georgia students learn from heroes

The videos all open with one man in the frame. The details are different – faces, ages. But each man wears the same medal clipped around his neck, blue fabric and gold metal, an Eagle perched atop a sharp-pointed star – the Medal of Honor. As the videos continue, each man tells his story: How he came to the service, where he served, who he was with. They explain how they came to win the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest honor awarded for valor in combat.

The videos are part of the Medal of Honor Character Development Program, through which students in participating Georgia schools learn from the oral histories of Medal of Honor recipients. The living-history curriculum zeroes in on six core values: courage, commitment, sacrifice, integrity, citizenship and patriotism.

Continue reading here.



Around DOE lately

-The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the standard on the Georgia High School Writing Test (GHSWT) rose to 96 percent this year:

-Georgia’s high school graduation rate is also up, rising from 71.8 percent in 2013 to 72.5 percent in 2014:

-The State Board of Education has proposed revisions to the CCGPS standards in ELA and math. Those proposed revisions are open for a 60-day public comment period, which began Nov. 12. Learn more here:

-The Department awarded STEM School certification to Dunwoody Elementary School in a ceremony Nov. 7:

-Carrie Madden, a full-time Georgia Virtual School instructor, is the National Blended and Online Learning Teacher of the Year:


Around the districts

-Here’s a great photo from Sherwood Acres Elementary School, in Dougherty County. Kindergarten students celebrated learning their letters and sounds by holding an “alphabet parade” for students, staff and family members.


-Schools and systems across the state joined in GaDOE’s I CAN Play a Role Campaign for Parent Engagement Month. Here’s a photo from Bibb County:   


And here’s one from Whitfield County:

play a role.jpg


Georgia’s public schools in the news

Georgia School for the Deaf, other teachers awarded grants by Georgia Power | Rome News-Tribune:

Norcross business hires Atlanta Area School for the Deaf students | 11 Alive:

Medal of Honor winners basis for lesson in Georgia classrooms | AJC:

Juggling offers unique physical education lesson | The Brunswick News:

State Superintendent hails Cumming Elementary as family-friendly | Forsyth County News:


Save the date

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:

Dec. 10: Georgia Day of Code, information/registration here


View previous newsletters

October 9, September 17, September 3, August 22, August 1, June 13, May 30, May 14, May 1, April 11, March 28