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The 2012-13 State of Schools Continuing to raise the bar Welcome back! I am thrilled to embark on my sixth year as superintendent of Forsyth County Schools and honored to have the privilege to lead our outstanding students, staff and schools. I hope you have the opportunity to visit one of our 36 schools, where you will find some of the best teachers in the nation and a rigorous curriculum created specifically for your child. We know that more is constantly being demanded of our students academically. With the ever-changing landscape of the world and workforce, not only must today’s graduates be proficient in core academic subjects, they need to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and effective communicators. They need global awareness, economic, financial, and civic literacy. No matter what the future holds for each student, these 21st century skills will be demanded of them. We are integrating 21st century learning skills with rigorous and relevant academic instruction which are in line with the district’s Strategic Plan. One of our top priorities is to continue to raise the bar so students gain the skills they will need to compete in an economy that runs on information and demands vision and innovation. Keeping pace with the technology is a focus for our staff. Although the district is again faced with reduced local and state funding that has led to unprecedented budget challenges, through shared commitment, thoughtful planning and a strong accountability system, we will continue to offer the extraordinary educational programs that this community has come to know. I am looking forward to working with our entire Forsyth County Schools community, as we move ahead to meet the needs of every student. I wish you all the best for the 2012-13 school year!

The Forsyth County News is excited to be a partner with the school system to provide you the 2012-13 State of the Schools, which features a wealth of valuable information in one convenient publication. Additionally, we also provide coverage of our local students, staff and schools in both the Forsyth County News and the South Forsyth News. Our newspapers are also complemented with breaking news and video at We are also pleased to be able to bring you valuable advertisements from local businesses. In Forsyth County, we believe a strong school-community partnership is essential for the success of both the school system and our community. As such, I encourage you to take advantage of the offers from local businesses found within these pages.

John Hall, Publisher

L.C. (Buster) Evans, Superintendent

Forsyth County News

Forsyth County Schools

State of Schools 2012-13 SoS 2012-13 PAGES.indd 3

Covering the school system an important job

3 7/16/2012 6:19:39 PM

Inside the 2012-13 State of Schools 6 7

Strategic Plan: Our path to greatness! Make a difference through mentoring

A change in performance standards


PROPEL-ing students forward


Pinpoint coming to Forsyth County Schools


Student assessment in Forsyth schools


The Forsyth County Board of Education

11 High school credit in middle school


Ways to communicate with FCS


NOBLE takes learning anywhere


The Superintendent’s Cabinet


STEM a big hit at Forsyth Central High

Principals of our schools


Our newest facility, Kelly Mill Elementary

37 38

Teachers and Counselors of the Year

24 25

Positively Forsyth brings high standards


FCS meals best deal in town

26 28 29

Simplifying safety on the bus

40 41 41 42

2011-12 district retirees School Climate: What is it about? Partners in Education shine Technology transforming education

About this publication The 2012-13 State of the Schools is produced by the Forsyth County School’s Public Information and Communication Department. For information, contact jcaracciolo@forsyth. Copyright 2012, Forsyth County Schools

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Serving international families 2012-13 student calendar

Stay connected


Mail: 1120 Dahlonega Highway, Cumming, Georgia 30040 Telephone: (770) 887-2461 Web site:

Front cover and administrator photos provided by Lily McGregor Photography, www. From left: Ansley Waters (first grade, Chestatee ES), Jackson Greene (fourth grade, Settles Bridge ES), Skylar Aledia (seventh grade, Riverwatch MS), and Nathan Wilson (2012 graduate, North Forsyth HS). General student and teacher photos provided by the following West Forsyth HS students, under the direction of teacher Stephanie Pickens: Haley Tiernan, Rebecca Sciandra, Bianca Aguilar, Tyler Salas, Ersta Ferryanto, Christian Van der Linde, Erinn Hartley, and Cecilia Bailey. PIE and TOTY photos provided by In & Out Photo,

Sign up to receive newsletters from FCS via e-mail. Join at enewsletters Follow us: For a list of school facebook and twitter pages, visit www.forsyth.

About Forsyth County Schools FCS does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability or gender in employment decisions or educational programs and activities, including athletic programs. The accuracy of the content within this publication is subject to change prior to dissemination.

State of Schools 2012-13 7/17/2012 3:52:43 PM

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The FCS Strategic Plan 2013-16: Our Path to Greatness! Beliefs:

• Trust among all stakeholders is vital. • Expectations influence accomplishments because everyone has the capacity to learn. • A school-community partnership is essential. • Change creates opportunity. • High-performing leadership makes visions reality. To learn more, including opportunities for input, visit

2013-16 Strategic Plan: Our Path to Greatness! After completing three very successful Strategic Plans, FCS will dedicate six months of the 2012-13 school year to constructing a new plan to guide the system from 2013 to 2016. The new plan will: • Excite FCS and enable it to thrive in challenging times • Build on the success of and improve upon the three previous Strategic Plans • Align and focus the entire school system with measurable out comes • Reassess the district’s vision, mission and beliefs • Involve internal and external stakeholder using various communications tools • Support school improvement plans and annual department goals The plan will be appreciative and take a results-based approach Appreciative • Identifies and builds on what already works well • Generates positive energy through stories of success • Envision a preferred future based on existing success and future needs, opportunities and possibilities Results-Based • Identifies desired impacts and results, and their key success indicators • Clearly links strategies and actions to the desired results • Allows the district to monitor whether our strategies and actions are achieving our desired results

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State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:22:24 PM

Mentoring: One person CAN make a difference Join us at our next training session!

A mentor is a volunteer that works to provide a young person with a special, encouraging relationship that will hopefully become a foundation for success in a child’s life. Put very simply, a mentor lends a child friendly support and a listening ear. This can be done by just talking to the child, reading a book, playing a game or doing an art activity. Becoming a mentor involves committing to 30 minutes per week during school hours with your student

Where: Forsyth County Board of Education 1120 Dahlonega Highway Cumming, GA 30040 When: Aug. 20, 2012 or Sept. 17, 2012

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for the school year. For more information visit http://

Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m. For more information: Susie Brookshire, Prevention Specialist (770) 887-2461, Ext 202339

7 7/16/2012 6:23:18 PM

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7/16/2012 6:24:37 PM

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Student assessment in schools Students across Georgia are assessed in all content areas, including writing. Two state-mandated assessments make up the academic performance criteria for meeting the new College and Career Ready Performance Indicators (CCRPI), formerly measured through Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). The CCRPI has multiple indicators to determine a school’s performance, rather than using a single test score given at one point in time. A numerical score out of 100 percent will be given to every school in the state and will be based on the following: • Weighted average of achievement, achievement gap closure and progress, • Achievement is the predominate factor, and • Exceeding the Bar Indicators. For grades 3-8, results from the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT), which assesses

Reading, English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies, are used. In high school, results from End-of-Course Tests (EOCT) in the areas of English, Math, Science, and Social Studies are utilized. Forsyth County Schools’ scores in both assessments are usually the highest among the state. Forsyth County

Schools continues to see high numbers of students exceeding the standard, rather than simply meeting the standard, due in part because our school leaders and staff provide a high level of rigor in curriculum, instruction, and assessment in preparation for state assessments and, more importantly, in preparation for life after high school. For district and school assessment results, community members may visit one of two locations: • The R4 Data Dashboard at http:// r4dashboard.forsyth.k12., or • Data Profiles http://www.forsyth. To review level-specific 2012-2013 Assessment Calendars, visit the Forsyth County Schools homepage at and click on the red tab titled “Calendars.”

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For more information or to register for our Fall 2012-13 Season, visit us online at or call


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State of Schools 2012-13 7/17/2012 3:54:35 PM

The Board of Education The Forsyth County Board of Education consists of five members who are elected by district to staggered, four-year terms. The primary role of the board is the legislation of the school system policies, which are executed under the direction of the school superintendent. Meetings of the board are held monthly, with agendas and meeting minutes available for review at www. Video broadcasts of the meetings are available at the Friday after each meeting and also on TV Forsyth, Comcast Channel 23. 2012 monthly meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the following Thursdays: Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15 and Dec. 13. Meetings are open to the public and held at 1120 Dahlonega Highway in Cumming. Communicate with your Board of Education at the e-mail addresses listed under each board member’s name on the map or by mail to Board of Education, Forsyth County Schools, 1120 Dahlonega Highway, Cumming, GA 30040. Highlights of Board of Education work sessions and regular meetings are communicated to the public in Board Briefs, which is sent by e-mail the Friday after each regular meeting. To subscribe visit www.forsyth.

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Bethelview Rd & Hwy 20 Year-Round Location Ga 400 Exit 17 2330 Canton Hwy 537 Lake Center Parkway 3040 Keith Bridge Road 1-800-hrblock Cumming, Ga 30040 Cumming, Ga 30040 Cumming, Ga 30041 Bethelview Rd & Hwy 20 Year-Round Location Ga 400678-455-3150 Exit 17 Phone: 770-887-5150 Phone: 770-887-1650 Phone: 2330 Canton Hwy 537 Lake Center Parkway 3040 Keith Bridge Road Available at participating offices. ©2011 HRB Tax Group, Inc. Jan-April Call for hours Ga 30040 Jan-April Cumming, Ga 30040 Cumming, Cumming, Ga 30041 Phone: 770-887-5150 Phone: 770-887-1650 State of Schools 2012-13 Jan-April Call for hours

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Phone: 678-455-3150 Jan-April

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M i n d M at h Reading/WRiting

Communicate! FCS employs a variety of electronic tools to communicate with stakeholders. Subscribe to the following to stay up-to-date!

Web site:

ABACUS Try Solving...

687 / 123 x 3267 = ? If we told you that your 8 year-old child can do this without any aid in 30 seconds, wouldn’t you like to know how?

Features daily news (RSS feed); links to school web sites; general information, such as attendance lines, menus, bus stops and strategic plan; blogs and surveys; podcasts and an expanded video section, and eBoard for district strategic plan information, BOE policies and meeting agendas. Local School Council (LSC) minutes are also available on eBoard.

Tool for parents and students to access instant, online, timely and secure student information such as class schedule, assignments, attendance, discipline, report cards and transcripts. Subscribers also receive automated phone and e-mail messages.

genius in


child International ABACUS Training Method for your Child’s Whole Brain Development

ALOHA is excited to introduce the Reading/Writing Program for grades 1-5. Visit the page above to subscribe! • The Communicator: monthly overview of FCS news • Board Briefs: monthly review of BOE meeting

Call your Cumming Center at:


R4 Data Dashboard: http://r4dashboard.

First and only accountability tool of its kind in Georgia school systems, providing “real-time” data to viewers, such as test scores and demographics, to improve transparency.

Smartphone Apps (free!)

Visit for a full list with direct links to sites, and QR barcodes. District App Apple iPhones: Go to App Store on your phone and search for Forsyth County Schools (GA), or search on iTunes. Androids: Launch the “Android Market” application on your

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State of Schools 2012-13 SoS 2012-13 PAGES.indd 13


Strengthening Literacy. Facilitating Success.

ParentPortal: and on each school’s home page

Continued on 16


13 7/17/2012 5:49:25 PM

The Superintendent’s Cabinet The Superintendent’s Cabinet is responsible for assisting the Superintendent in addressing the School Board’s major system priorities. The Cabinet provides input to the Superintendent on major operational, programmatic and fiscal issues that affect the school system. To contact a Cabinet member, visit www.forsyth.

Members of the Cabinet include, from left beginning with the front row: • Jennifer Caracciolo, Director of Public Information and Communications • Valery Hall, Assistant to the Superintendent and Board of Education • Susan Atkins, Director of Student Support Services • Fonda Harrison, Chief Academic Officer • Cindy Salloum, Chief Accountability Officer and Director of Legal Services • Andrea Perkins, Assistant Director of Food and Nutrition Services • Garry Puetz, Director of Transportation • Todd Shirley, Director of School Safety and Student Discipline • Bill McKnight, Director of Facilities • Candy Norton, Chief Human Resources Officer • Buster Evans, Superintendent • Sarah Taylor, Director of Special Education • Dan Jones, Chief Financial Officer • Joey Pirkle, Associate Superintendent of Educational Leadership • Bailey Mitchell, Chief Technology and Information Officer

Vision: Quality learning and superior performance for all!

Mission: The mission of Forsyth County Schools is to prepare and inspire all students to contribute and excel.

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State of Schools 2012-13 7/17/2012 3:59:19 PM

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7/17/2012 5:35:48 PM

From 13 phone. Click on the “search” icon on the right. Next, enter “Forsyth County Schools (GA)” into the search field. When the application appears, click on it and follow the instructions to install. Infinite Campus (ParentPortal) App Apple iPhones: Go to the App Store on your phone and search Infinite Campus Mobile Portal. Select settings, enter district id (NMPXCZ) and select go. Androids: Launch the “Android Market” application on your phone. Click on the “search” icon on the right. Next, enter “Infinite Campus Mobile Portal” into the search field. When the application appears, click on it and follow the instructions to install.

Social Media

Schools are also adding Facebook and Twitter accounts to increase their communication – search for your school today at • Facebook: • Twitter: • Linkedin group: Forsyth County Schools, GA • Google+ under “Forsyth County Schools”

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State of Schools 2012-13 7/17/2012 5:25:07 PM

Five Star Community Banking Banking the Way It’s Supposed to Be Seated: Andrew W. Walker, Jr., Market President (Lender), Jennifer Rollins, Loan Operations Assistant Standing: Darla Ash, Head Teller, Michelle G. Leak, Market Senior Vice President (Lender), Sam R. Story, Market Executive Vice President (Lender), Tammie C. Kelly, Banking Officer/Branch Manager

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7/17/2012 4:43:24 PM

Principals Forsyth County Schools serves close to 38,000 students and is the largest employer in the county with over 4,200 full-time employees and 1,500 substitutes. Out of 180 school districts, FCS is the ninth largest school system in Georgia. FCS is home to 36 schools: • 20 elementary • 9 nine middle • 5 high schools • 1 charter non-traditional high school (Forsyth Academy/Academy@Night) • 1 6-12 online school (iAchieve Virtual Academy) Gateway Academy, an alternative program for middle and high school students, is also available for students. To contact a principal or assistant principal, visit All principals listed as seen from left to right.

High school

Principal, School

2012-13 Enrollment

Betty Pope, West Forsyth HS 2,118 Beth Hebert, North Forsyth HS 2,209 Jeff Cheney, South Forsyth HS 2,059 Gary Davison, Lambert HS 2,279 Rudy Hampton, Forsyth Central HS 1,532 Brad Smith, Academies of Creative Education, not photographed.

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State of Schools 2012-13 7/17/2012 4:01:21 PM

Principals Middle school Principal, School

2012-13 Enrollment

Kathy Carpenter, Riverwatch MS Connie Stovall, Liberty MS Sandy Tinsley, South Forsyth MS Terri North, Piney Grove MS Jeff Hunt, North Forsyth MS Kathy Rohacek, Vickery Creek MS Connie McCrary, Little Mill MS Debbie Sarver, Lakeside MS Steve Miller, Otwell MS

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1309 898 958 1093 891 1119 970 1020 1036

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Elementary school

Principal, School

2012-13 Enrollment

Sherri Black, Big Creek ES Donna Morris, Settles Bridge ES Charley Stalder, Matt ES Eric Ashton, Daves Creek ES Alyssa Degliumberto, Johns Creek ES Amy Davis, Haw Creek ES Lynne Castleberry, Whitlow ES Polly Tennies, Chestatee ES Rebecca Johnson, Shiloh Point ES Kathy Braswell, Brookwood ES Eileen Nix, Sawnee ES Pam Pajerski, Cumming ES Amy Bartlett, Sharon ES Paige Andrews, Silver City ES Barbara Vella, Chattahoochee ES Debbie Smith, Coal Mountain ES Kristan Riedinger, Vickery Creek ES Todd Smith, Midway ES Ron McAllister, Kelly Mill ES Tracey Smith, Mashburn ES

en e p O us t 6th Hoy Augus m p

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Montessori Children’s House of North Forsyth

7395 Browns Bridge Rd. Gainesville, GA • 404-862-KIDS (5437) • • • • • • • • • •

Serving children beginning at age 3 years A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization Full day and half day openings All tuition includes hot lunch Accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission The Christian Montessori School in Forsyth County Teachers with College degrees/Montessori certification Preschool teacher and Administrator are International Montessori Teacher Educators Head of School has over 30 years Montessori experience Ask about our tax credit

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600 881 993 1122 819 857 1161 1041 1257 736 1326 953 857 995 873 642 1046 887 1004 585

Train up a child in the way he should go (and keeping with his individual gift or bent), when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core. -- Maria Montessori

State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:39:23 PM

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7/16/2012 6:40:35 PM

When looking for a doctor to help treat your vein condition, experience matters. You need a physician who understands that vein disease can be very complex and each patient is unique. Offering state of the art treatment techniques, our clinical team is headed by a local physician, Dr. Peter Wrobel. He is

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extensively trained in phlebology (vein medicine) and has performed thousands of procedures. He is assisted by a registered ultrasound tech with vascular expertise. A licensed nurse practitioner is also part of our vein services team. In addition, licensed nurses and certified medical assistants lend support and complete our team.

7/17/2012 5:29:38 PM



A world of fun, adventure and fitness awaits… right in your backyard!

Forsyth County’s parks are a great place for families, fun and fitness. Whether playing basketball or working out at one of the county’s three recreation centers, hiking a trail at Sawnee Mountain Preserve, enjoying the outdoors at one of the new passive use parks, or participating in one of the many classes and programs offered, you are sure to find something for every member of the family at Forsyth County’s parks. Discover Forsyth County’s parks today!


Fowler Park Recreation Center 4110 Carolene Way 770.886.4088

Central Park Recreation Center 2300 Keith Bridge Road 678.455.8540



The recreation centers feature basketball gyms, walking tracks, fitness rooms, classrooms, facility rental spaces, on-site registration and more!

Old Atlanta Park Recreation Center 810 Nichols Road 770.205.4646

Forsyth County Parks

1. Bennett Park 2. Big Creek Greenway 3. Caney Creek Preserve 4. Central Park 5. Charleston Park 6. Chattahoochee Pointe 7. Chestatee Community Building 8. Coal Mountain Park 9. Ducktown Community Park 10. Fowler Park 11. Haw Creek Park 12. Joint Venture Park at Daves Creek 13. Midway Park 14. Old Atlanta Park 15. Poole’s Mill Park 16. Sawnee Mountain Park 17. Sawnee Mountain Preserve and Visitor Center 18. Shady Grove Campground 19. Sharon Springs Park 20. South Forsyth Soccer Complex 21. Windermere Park 22. Young Deer Creek Park

FORSYTHCOUNTY Parks and Recreation offers • • • •

Sports leagues, instructional programs, camps and fitness memberships Wide variety of amenities Recreation programs for ages 1 ½ and older Facility rentals for meetings, parties and other group events

Learn more: visit or call 770.781.2215

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7/17/2012 4:03:27 PM

Teachers, Counselors of the Year North Forsyth High School robotics team, and lent her artistic talents to the high school’s production of the Wizard of Oz. 2012 Middle School Teacher of the Year: Tracey Heffelfinger, Little Mill Middle School, Math Teacher

Anna Aigner-Muehler is photographed with members of her family at the 2012 Celebration of Excellence. 2012 Forsyth County Teacher of the Year and 2012 High School Teacher of the Year: Anna Aigner-Muehler, Forsyth Central High School, Foreign Language Teacher A graduate of Forsyth County Schools, Ms. Aigner-Muehler received her Bachelor’s degree from Agnes Scott College and her Master’s degree from Leslie University. She started her teaching career as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Austria, and joined Forsyth Central High School in 2000. In 2009 she became a teacher leader at the district’s Academy @ Night. Ms. Aigner-Muehler, a 2009 STAR teacher, serves as the sponsor of her school’s German Club, manages the Instructional Focus (IF) program and is the Foreign Language Department Chair. 2012 Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Antoinette “Toni” Sullivan, Coal Mountain Elementary School, Art Teacher Ms. Sullivan received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Coal Mountain in 2009, she worked at Chattahoochee and Silver City elementary schools. In 2010, Ms. Sullivan received special recognition for her charitable service from the Commander of the Cumming VFW Post 9143. She also serves as a parent volunteer with the

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Ms. Heffelfinger received her Bachelor’s degree from Furman University and her Master’s degree from Walden University. Prior to joining Little Mill Middle School in 2007, she worked at Liberty Middle School. Ms. Heffelfinger, who worked in the computer field for close to 20 years before transitioning to education, is active in her community. She has participated in productions at the Holly Theatre in Dahlonega, knitted 1,200 items for Neonatal Intensive Care Units in two states, and has volunteered over 500 hours at the Georgia Aquarium. 2012 Elementary School Counselor of the Year: Sonia Stewart, Chestatee Elementary School Ms. Stewart has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, and Master’s and Specialist degrees from Georgia State University. She has worked at Chestatee ES since 2001, with prior work experience at Charter Hospital, Georgia. Ms. Stewart is an ASCA RAMP School Model Award recipient, and has presented at numerous state conferences. 2012 High School Counselor of the Year: Denise Eccleston, Lambert High School Ms. Eccleston has a Bachelor’s degree from Stetson University, Florida, and a Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. She has worked at Settles Bridge and Johns Creek elementary schools, and joined Lambert HS in 2009. Ms. Eccleston is the 2008 FCS Elementary School Counselor of the Year, as well as the 2009 Region 2 and Georgia Counselor of the Year.

2012 School-Level Teachers of the Year Big Creek ES — Kris Cable, Media Specialist Brookwood ES — Ginger Jackson, Special Education Chattahoochee ES — Julie Walsh, 1st Grade Chestatee ES — Laura Martin, 4th Grade Coal Mountain ES— Toni Sullivan, Art Cumming ES — Denise Hunt, Title I Daves Creek ES — Eileen Barbieri, Kindergarten Haw Creek ES — Donna Bishop, 3rd Grade Johns Creek ES — David Krosner, Music Mashburn ES — Chelsea Buchanan, Kindergarten Matt ES — Robin Caubo, Kindergarten Midway ES — Sally Campbell, EIP Sawnee ES — Farise Posey, Kindergarten Settles Bridge ES — Courtney Bean, 2nd Grade Sharon ES — Linda Reid, 5th Grade Shiloh Point ES — Daphne Rogers, EIP Silver City ES — Lindsey Richardson, 1st Grade Vickery Creek ES — Greg Walkup, 3rd Grade Whitlow ES — Hannah Hawlk, 2nd Grade Lakeside MS — Brian Lack, Math Liberty MS — Bryan Biccum, Math Little Mill MS — Tracey Heffelfinger, Math North Forsyth MS — Amy Henke, Art Otwell MS — Robbie Jones, Math Piney Grove MS — Meredith Foster, Special Education Riverwatch MS — Matt Koperniak, Band South Forsyth MS — Sandra Martinaitis, ELA and Math Vickery Creek MS — Nancy Higgins, Math Gateway Academy — Marie Devine, Language Arts Forsyth Central HS — Anna AignerMuehler, Foreign Language Lambert HS — Brittney Cantrell, Science North Forsyth HS — Jayne Osborne, Science South Forsyth HS — Dawn Martin, Culinary Arts West Forsyth HS — David Johnson, Engineering

State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:42:11 PM


Congratulations to Forsyth County Schools’ 2011-12 retirees! Thank you for your dedication and devotion to the students, and making FCS one of the best school districts in the nation!

• Joyce Abernathy, Chestatee ES • Dennis Alldred, North Forsyth MS • Deborah Ashburn, Sharon ES • Jerry Atkins, Sawnee ES • Frankie Bagby, Vickery Creek MS • Bonnie Bales, Transportation • Gwendolyn Barnett, Big Creek ES • Linda Bennett, Transportation • Charlotte Benson, Forsyth Central HS • Laura Boschelli, Otwell MS • Edward Bradley, Mashburn ES • Susie Brookshire, BOE • Patricia Brown, Chattahoochee ES • Richard Brown, Transportation • Nelda Bryant, Forsyth Central HS • Charlotte Carter, Settles Bridge ES • Robin Clark, BOE • Nan Cobb, Haw Creek ES • Lynn Comer, Cumming ES • Robin Cookson, Forsyth Academy • Dave Culpepper, Chattahoochee ES • Marilene Cunningham, Sharon ES • Sylvia Earley, North Forsyth HS • Deborah Ellis, Matt ES • Willa Friday, Big Creek ES • Beverly Garmon, Transportation • Paul Giles, Forsyth Central HS • Richard Gill, West Forsyth HS • Ken Gilmore, Forsyth Central HS • Marcia Gravitt, Cumming ES

• Donna Gunyon, Lakeside MS • Beverly Hammond, Transportation • Millie Harbison, Cumming ES • Brenda Hickey, Transportation • Bonnie Holloway, North Forsyth HS • Shirley Honea, Forsyth Central HS • Karen Hoogstraal, Settles Bridge ES • Barbara Hubbard, Chestatee ES • Patricia Ingram, Transportation • Carolyn Jones, Shiloh Point ES • Sherry Koonce, Daves Creek ES • Lorri Lazenby, North Forsyth MS • John Mashburn, Forsyth Central HS • Dick McCabe, Haw Creek ES • Bessie McCord, Chestatee ES • Janie McGinnis, Transportation • Lavon McGriff, Coal Mountain ES • Michael Miller, Riverwatch MS • Janice Nisbet, Daves Creek ES • Susan Nodine, Forsyth Central HS • Patricia Owens, Riverwatch MS • Dorothy Partee, Lambert HS • Marcia Patrick, Daves Creek ES • Janice Payne, Forsyth Central HS • Alejandro Penate, Lambert HS • Rosemarie Perry, South Forsyth MS • Gloria Pirkle, Transportation • Kayleen Pollard, Big Creek ES • Tommie Ann Poss, Mashburn ES • Linda Ratliff, Matt ES

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• Lesa Reynolds, North Forsyth MS • Susan Rink, Silver City ES • Iris Rister, Liberty MS • Barbara Robinette, Brookwood ES • Raney Roden, Transportation • Patti Rogers, Forsyth Central HS • Nita Rooney, Brookwood ES • Dale Ruis, West Forsyth HS • Phyllis Samples, Mashburn ES • Brenda Schulz, BOE • Eva Selman, Big Creek ES • Laurie Sharpe, Chattahoochee ES • Sarah Smith, Liberty MS • Voncille Smith, Chestatee ES • Patti Sanborn Sosebee, Piney Grove MS • Shirley Stewart, Mashburn ES • Sandra Sweat, BOE • Karen Taylor, Otwell MS • Mary Tritt, North Forsyth MS • Kathy Vail, North Forsyth HS • Bruce Wagar, BOE • Richard Waters, Liberty MS • Anthony Watkins, Lambert HS • Carol Watson-Dixon, Little Mill MS • Kenneth Weddermann, Transportation • Diane Widmer, Lambert HS • Juanita, Wood, Coal Mountain ES • Susan Woods, BOE • Evelyn Young, Riverwatch MS

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School Climate: What is it about? School Climate Rating will be reported as a measure of school success on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI). Definitions of “school climate” vary, but research indicates that school climate is an integral part of school success. A recent study by the Center for Social and Emotional Intelligence showed that over 90 percent of the respondents believe that school climate is critical to student success. Some indicators of school climate are physical, social and emotional safety and positive relationships. People feel more confident and secure when they know and believe they are physically safe and when they feel accepted and valued in their environments. Forsyth County Schools’ Student Support Services Department — counselors, nurses, psychologists and social workers — provide services that enhance school climate, not only for the students but for the faculty and community as well. The Student Support Services Department facilitates building positive school climate. Our Prevention Specialist offers Olweus antibullying education in almost all of our schools. Trained teachers and administrators lead and encourage the entire school staff and student body to practice positive interactions with each other and to

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minimize negative behaviors. The Prevention Specialist also trains adult mentors who volunteer to work with individual students throughout the school year. Research shows that students improve their academic work and feel better about themselves when they are connected with supportive adults. The school counselors deliver classroom guidance to students in all grades. The lessons are developmentally designed so that over the course of a student’s school experience they can demonstrate mastery of attitudes, skills and knowledge that contribute to effective learning. The school counselors help students learn goal-setting and decision-making skills as well as personal safety and life skills. Students also learn to make positive academic choices and mature in their understanding of the relationships and connection between their personal qualities and decisions, their education and their future in the world of work. The school nurses are available every school day. They care for the health and wellbeing of the students and the staff. Students perform better, feel more connected and have better attendance when they feel good and when they know that a nurse is there to help them if they don’t. The psychologists and

social workers offer evaluations, support and resources when difficulties inhibit the student’s academic performance or circumstances impact the basic needs of the family. The Student Support leadership annually trains all new administrators, counselors and social workers in emergency procedures for crisis response so that there is always trained staff available when the unex-

pected happens. Knowing that there is a plan when emergencies occur makes people feel more secure. School climate encompasses the values, cultures and safety practices within a school. In Forsyth County Schools, we promote respect for students as individuals and positive relationships between students and adults. For more information, visit www.forsyth.k12.

State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:44:23 PM

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Partners in Education shine At the 16th Celebration of Excellence, Forsyth County Schools and the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce recognized the contributions of Partners in Education and parent leaders, and recognized Teachers of the Year. Event sponsors included:

• Title Sponsor: Northside Hospital-Forsyth • Luncheon Sponsor: Georgia Power • Awards Sponsor: Publix Supermarkets • Gold Sponsor: American Proteins, The Avenue Forsyth and Actor Boy • Bronze Sponsor: RBM of Atlanta, North • Bronze Sponsor: JTECH Networks, LLC • Bronze Sponsor: SwimKids of Georgia With approximately 800 active partners working throughout 2011-12 with 35 schools and various departments in the district, Partners in Education provided $1.3 million in funding to Forsyth County Schools. These funds, in addition to the thousands of volunteer hours and countless in-kind services, have improved student achievement in all subject areas, enriched students’ life experiences, helped grow career opportunities, and boosted educator support and morale. Visit www.forsyth.k12. to become a partner!

2011-12 Partners in Education award winners included:

• Jim Cheatham, 2012 Mentor of the Year, nominated by Daves Creek ES. • La Cazuela, 2012 Friend of the Year, nominated by Brookwood ES. • Therese Batson, 2012 Volunteer of the Year, nominated by Piney Grove MS. • American Proteins, 2012 Silver Program of the Year, nominated by Chestatee ES. • Jim N’ Nicks, 2012 Silver Program of the Year, nominated by Big Creek ES and Superintendent’s Office. • Hobby Lobby, 2012 Gold Program of the Year, nominated by South Forsyth HS. • Browns Bridge Community Church, 2012 Gold Program of the Year, nominated by Coal Mountain, Cumming and Chestatee elementary schools.

Barbara and Suzanne Hendricks present the 2012 Don Hendricks’ Partnership Award to Susan Grace, Marketing Director of RBM Atlanta-North.

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• RBM Atlanta-North, 2012 Don Hendricks Partnership Award Winner.

State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:45:32 PM

BYOT transforms student learning The implementation of Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) continued to grow throughout the 2011-12 school year. Currently, all of Forsyth County Schools are facilitating teaching and learning with the use of students’ personal technology devices. Because of the inquiries and requests regarding this innovative strategy, the district organized a tour in February to observe BYOT at Coal Mountain Elementary School, Otwell Middle School and Forsyth Central High School. The tour was well received, and on that day, the district hosted over 120 visitors from neighboring school districts, business partners, representatives from higher education and educators from as far away as Toronto, Canada and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Forsyth County Schools also received national attention this year for BYOT with a broadcast by NBC News. A production team from the network visited Coal Mountain Elementary School and interviewed students and teachers employing the digital age skills of commu-

nication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity with their own technology tools. NBC followed up the trip to the school with a visit to a local family to observe how students continue to learn with their own technology at home. The news story illustrated how teachers and students are able to work together to learn how to use technology responsibly and safely and how to discover new instructional uses for the devices that students already own and have in their pockets. The interest in how BYOT is transforming learning within the district has led to the scheduling of three tours to occur throughout the next school year in addition to a three-day conference to highlight BYOT and other educational practices being encouraged by the district. Already the first two dates in the fall are filling up with attendees from around the nation, and additional schools will be in the spotlight as they continue to improve learning experiences for students in Forsyth County. To learn more visit BYOT.

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Change in standards comes Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, Forsyth County Schools will join all counties across Georgia in the implementation of a nationally benchmarked set of performance standards for English language arts and literacy, and mathematics. The standards were developed by a coalition of states led by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Throughout the development process, the collaborative efforts of teachers, school administrators and content experts were extensive. A thorough review and feedback process occurred for all stakeholders prior to adoption by the Georgia State Board of Education in July of 2010. The standards are informed by the most rigorous and effective models from states across the country and countries around the world, and provide teachers and parents with a common understanding of what students are expected to learn. FCS teachers will continue to teach the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) for science and social studies, as there have been no development of national standards for these content areas. The Common Core GPS (CCGPS) will ensure that students graduating high school are able to suc-

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ceed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses and in work-force training programs. Administrators and teachers in Forsyth County began preparing for the implementation of the CCGPS during the 201112 school year. The Georgia Department of Education has provided webinar training sessions for teachers at all grade levels and content areas to introduce the CCGPS. In addition to the state training, FCS has worked with over 200 teacher leaders to create resources to assist in the transition to a more rigorous set of national standards. Lead teachers representing all schools across the district participated in sessions of studying the standards to reveal any changes from our previous standards, determining power standards, creating pacing guides, and developing units of study that support the implementation of the Common Core GPS. FCS has also had teacher leaders in grades 6-12

participate in the Literacy Design Collaborative over the past two school years. The work of this group has been funded through a grant from the Gates Foundation and has worked with teachers from Forsyth County and across the nation in the areas of language arts, science, social studies and career tech. These teachers have been engaged in creating units and strategies to assist content area teachers in implementation of literacy standards that are included in the CCGPS. The resources created from all of these efforts will be ready and accessible for implementation when school begins in August 2012. As a result of our transition to the CCGPS, state assessments will change to reflect the new standards. For 2012-13 and 2013-14, FCS will continue to assess the students using the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) in grades 3-8, and the End-of-Course Tests (EOCT) in grades 8-12. The format of these tests will remain the same, but the tests will be assessing the Common Core GPS. To learn more about CCGPS, visit for the parent guide and for the teacher resources.

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PROPEL-ing students forward Graduation from high school is a vital component of a viable and successful community. Numerous studies indicate that the higher a person’s education the better their futures and the future of the community in which they reside. The PROPEL Initiative, a joint project of Forsyth County Schools and the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, brought forth the goal of the school district to “lead the nation in percent of students graduating from high school.” Key components of the PROPEL project were to connect to the local business community, identify at-risk students, and use data for school improvement plans, incorporating multiple ave-

nues for course completion and increasing the awareness of the need for early learning. That vision led to community involvement in studying the change of calculation method of the graduation rate in Georgia. No longer is the rate just a calculation involving yearly dropout rate, but follows a group of students who enter the 9th grade at the same

time. These students are tracked throughout their high school career and are expected to graduate with a regular education diploma in no more than four years. The change in calculation has historically seen declines in rates from 10-20 percent in some cases. The results show that in 201011, FCS led the metro county districts with the highest graduation

Pinpoint on performance In October 2010, Forsyth County Schools was awarded a five-year Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The project, entitled Engage ME – P.L.E.A.S.E. (Personalized Learning Experiences Accelerate Standards-based Education), focuses on using technology to personalize learning and improve student outcomes in the areas of increased graduation rate, decreased dropout rate and overall academic performance. This initiative specifically targets students in grades 6-12 in their English/ Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics courses, but over time the project will affect all subjects and grade levels in the system. By using an integrated system of digital content, assessments, active reporting and learner preferences, teachers and administrators will be able to more effectively customize individual learning plans for each student. A development partnership between FCS and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has introduced the new system, called Pinpoint, with ELA and Math implementations this past year at both North Forsyth Middle and North Forsyth High. Pinpoint will be phased in throughout the district over the next two years. In August of 2012, all subject areas at Liberty Middle, Little Mill Middle, Riverwatch Middle, South Forsyth Middle, Lambert High and South Forsyth High will begin using the Pinpoint system. The following 2013-14 school year will include all schools K-12 and all subject areas. Benefits for teachers • Single platform for content, assessments, instruction • Standards aligned resources

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• Online and scanned paper assessments Benefits for parents • Access to instructional content • Single page view for current and past due assignments • Access to student grades submitted through Pinpoint Benefits for students • Single calendar view across all courses • Immediate feedback on submitted assessments • Recommended content based on learning preferences Since much accountability comes with such a high profile grant, FCS has partnered with the College of Education at the University of Georgia for the research and evaluation required for this project. As part of the research, students, teachers (Math and ELA) and administrators are asked to participate in surveys and group interviews each year to provide feedback about how instruction is provided in the classrooms. This will be monitored over time and will be part of the overall research study to determine the success of the grant implementation. If you have any questions about the implementation process of Pinpoint or would like further information, please visit http://www.forsyth.k12.

rate. The state of Georgia rate was 67.4 percent (a drop of 13.5 percent); metro districts ranged from 52-75 percent (the largest drop being 21 percent). Forsyth County Schools had a graduation rate of 86 percent (a drop of 5 percent). All districts with higher rates were small in size; FCS ranked 12 out of 180 statewide. FCS graduated 1,846 students on time; had 59 non graduates; 51 special education diplomas or certificates of attendance; and 183 dropouts. 59 of these dropouts went to get a GED. The change in this calculation will give FCS a different base line for continued improvement. For more information visit PROPEL.

High school credit in middle school Students headed to high school this fall will have high school course credits even before the first day of school! Forsyth County Schools offered high school credit at all middle schools last year as encouragement to increase the ontime graduation rate or academic acceleration of our students. At the end of the 2011-12 school year, Forsyth County students carried a total of 6,058 credits with them to high school. The credits included core course requirements as well as elective credit. Every student in the eighth grade took high school physical science. Students carried a total of 2,628 credits forward which meets science requirements for a Georgia high school diploma. In addition, students were offered Accelerated Math 1 and Spanish 1 which resulted in 2,331 credits. Students also enrolled in various fine arts, study skills, or computer skills credit courses depending on availability at their specific school and earned 1,099 additional credits. Some students will carry as many as four credits as they enter high school this fall. The courses consisted of high school standards and were taught by highly qualified teachers with high school certification. Students in the science and math courses were required to take the End of Course Test as well as the Criterion Reference Competency Test required in the eighth grade. The EOCT is posted on their transcript just as it is in high school. Based on the success of this year, Forsyth County Schools anticipates a great 2012-13 year for eighth grades once again. To learn more about Forsyth County Schools’ curriculum, visit

State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:47:43 PM

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5830 Bethelview Road • Cumming, GA SoS 2012-13 PAGES.indd 35

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Traveling to a NOBLE world NOBLE (New Opportunities for Better Learning Experiences) is Forsyth County Schools’ new 3-D virtual world based on the open source OpenSim technology. A virtual world is a digital place where people using characters (called avatars) meet and interact with each other — a chat-room with graphics. On first sight, NOBLE looks like a digital game; however, unlike a game, a virtual world is not pre-scripted. Because users may create anything they can imagine, a virtual world is an excellent tool for creativity, construction, role playing, experimentation and learning to work with others. With NOBLE, FCS can deliver immersive learning adventures that engage students in more authentic and engaging ways. One of the district’s first projects was to build a scale model of a section of the Berlin Wall. After visiting the 3-D model, with its guard towers, dog runs, booby-traps and barricades, the students internalized the Soviet repression of East Germany in a real and meaningful way. They developed higher-order thinking skills

such as creativity, data analysis and problemsolving by working in teams to devise an escape plan over the wall. They then placed their own graffiti art to the west side of the wall to express their understanding of the Cold War. “For the first time, we are no longer constrained by the limitations of time, space and

physical resources,” said Bailey Mitchell, Chief Technology and Information Officer for Forsyth County Schools. “Students can build any world they can imagine — from a space station to a medieval castle. They can reenact the moon landing or the signing of the Magna Carta within the NOBLE World. Anything is possible!” “This program is educational on so many different levels,” added fifth-grade teacher Tracey Abercrombie, an early adopter. “I’m excited to bring in the economic lessons of supply and demand as well as profit-loss when they begin buying and selling in their virtual stores. The sense of community that is building through this experience is awesome and I can see talents in my students that I wouldn’t normally get to see. This is the most fun I’ve had in my career!” Forsyth County Schools is the first major school system in the nation to offer a 3-D virtual world environment to every classroom teacher. To learn more visit www.forsyth.k12.

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Fall 2012 term

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First Redeemer Church Conservatory of Music and Fine Arts is pleased to announce the beginning of our eighth year of musical training in Forsyth County. We offer private lessons in: • Piano

• Violin

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• Acoustic Guitar

• Electric Guitar

• Bass Guitar

• Trumpet

• Trombone

• Voice (male & female)

• Clarinet

• Rhythm (drum set)

• Flute

• Drama

• Percussion (inc. mallets) • Art

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For More Information: or call 678-513-9435

State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:48:46 PM

STEM a success at FCHS May 25, 2012, marked the successful end of the inaugural year of the STEM Academy at Forsyth Central High School. The Academy, which is open to all Forsyth County high school students, uses an academy/cohort approach to integrate rigorous academic core in math and science with innovative career and technical offerings to engage students in relevant, real world studies. Students follow a prescribed advanced math/science curriculum and then choose the Biotechnology Pathway or Engineering Pathway to complete their program of study. This program offers students the opportunity to participate in an internship with a local business partner. Due to its cohort style, STEM students take classes together and will continue to do so until graduation. Team work is essential for the students and the teachers. The teachers also have common planning which allows for collaborating on interdisciplinary units of study and for conversations concerning student progress. The teachers also work during the summer to plan the yearly STEM Design Challenge which will be a “surprise” to the students when they arrive in August. During this first year, the district saw 84 students work through rigorous curriculum and develop not only relationships with their peers, but also with the STEM Academy teach-

ers who pushed them to stretch their capacity to learn and think critically. One of the Biotech students states, “The teachers push you and push you until complexity becomes second nature.” The 2012-13 school year will see an overall increase in enrollment of 18 percent and a 4 percent increase in female enrollment. Currently, there is a 50/50 split between the Biotechnology Pathway and the Engineering Pathway. The STEM Academy hosted the 2012 Design Challenge (The Frosty Fling) which was a team project involving the planning and building of a successfully functioning trebuchet. Students had to complete a portfolio which included their plans, bill of materials and associated costs, mathematical calculations for expected performance, and other significant details to document the design process. The overall best team for each year’s Design Challenge will have their names displayed on a plaque in the East Campus Lobby. Co-Curricular activities are also an important part of the STEM Academy. Students are required to participate in a teacherapproved activity such as Science Olympiad and VEX. The Engineering students competed in the VEX Gateway North Regional Championship. Their robot made it into the finals competition and also received a

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trophy for the Best Build in the competition. Additionally, two

STEM students, Catherine Johnson and Pierre Giullermo, were chosen to participate in the Summer Institute in Biotechnology at Auburn University which involves intense studies of math and science. Only 24 students are allowed into the program and acceptance is based solely on academic criteria. They are shown in this photograph, along with Dr. Landers, atomic nuclear physicist at Auburn. For more information about the FCHS STEM Academy, visit

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Welcoming our newest, Kelly Mill ES Forsyth County Schools is excited to welcome Kelly Mill Elementary, home of the Colts, as the 36th school in the county. The 2012-13 school year will be an exciting time to be a part of the newest addition to the FCS family, welcoming 1,000-plus students. Kelly Mill Elementary School, located at 1180 Chamblee Gap Road, is excited about the potential that exists for student achievement and adult learning through the opportunities that will be part of the high level of teaching and learning. One such example is the focus of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) with an Interactive Science Lab that will provide hands-on learning opportunities, the BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) initiative, an emphasis on creativity through the Arts, and a continued focus on Applied Math Concepts through an Engineering aspect. The learner is encouraged and motivated to grow beyond the typical curriculum capitalizing on the learner’s interests and strengths. Kelly Mill, led by principal Ron McAllister, values the collaborative relationships that exist between the school and the home and looks forward to being an innovative and progressive force within the community. For more information visit, or follow the school at or

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State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:50:46 PM

Healthier meals

Positively Forsyth shaping system Throughout the 2011-12 school year, a group of FCS employees from various schools and departments served on a committee named Positively Forsyth. This committee’s task was to define FCS’ culture and customer service to make it the BEST school district in the universe!  The Positively Forsyth committee reviewed exemplar culture and customer service models from service, travel, entertainment and retail businesses, and held a mirror up to FCS in relation to these standards. Additionally, the committee reviewed FCS’ vision, mission and beliefs, and defined the organization’s culture and customer service core values:   Forsyth County Schools is a family that values our rich history by being committed investors in our future. We intentionally model our: • ACTIONS: We listen, affirm, respond, and adapt. • ATTITUDES: We are approachable, sincere, encouraging, and flexible. • AFFILIATIONS: We promote team work through personal connections, shared responsibility, genuine feedback and continuous growth.   To put the district’s core values into practice, the Positively Forsyth committee created customer service guidelines for email, face-to-face and phone communications. Lastly, the committee developed a plan for 2012-13 to communicate, train, evaluate and recognize FCS staff within the philosophy, standards and expectations of Positively Forsyth. To view these documents and also provide FCS customer service ideas/recommendations, visit

This school year will see many changes in Forsyth County Schools’ School Nutrition Program. The biggest change will be the implementation of new federally-designed meal patterns for school lunches. Congress revised the meal pattern requirements based on recommendations of the National Institutes of Medicine (IOM). Our already healthy school lunches will be offering even more whole grains, more servings of fruits, vegetables and legumes, and more moderate portions of protein foods.  Our school meals were already serving whole wheat or wholegrain rich items such as freshly baked whole wheat sub rolls, flat breads, soft tortillas, pizza crusts, school-baked rolls, and brown rice. The majority of our breakfast items are whole grain rich as well.  In just a year, all of our grains will be whole-grain rich. We hope that students will be enjoying these same healthy, whole grain items at home, too. Forsyth County lunches have always focused on offering a variety of fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables. This year the new meal pattern will require every lunch meal sold to have a serving of vegetable or fruit. Lots of choices will be available daily to meet this requirement. New requirements to offer key sub-groups of vegetables that pack a punch in nutrients and anti-oxidants for growing healthy, smart kids will be implemented. Menus will feature weekly servings of red/dark orange vegetables in the form of many delicious foods and new recipes. Students will find more dark green and leafy vegetable choices, too. Our salads have always been

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a combination of healthy romaine lettuce and baby spinach, but this year we will pilot using locallygrown, hydroponic lettuces for our salads and sandwiches. Kids at all levels will have the chance to sample and enjoy cooked greens as well.  Healthy legumes in delicious recipes will be another new feature of lunch menus. In addition, to staying within the required calorie limits set by the IOM, desserts have been omitted from menus.  Fun items that meet the whole-grain or 100 percent fruit/ juice requirement may be offered on special occasions. You can look forward to healthy lunches with all this plus 1 percent or skim milk, all for only $2.25 at elementary schools, and $2.35 at middle and high schools per day.  Don’t forget about breakfast — it really is a critical meal for boosting the learning potential and it is offered every day at every school.  This is a great option for kids who want to get every minute of sleep in the mornings or who like to start the day with a healthy breakfast while socializing with their friends. Breakfast meal choices include whole grains, yogurt, muffins, with juice, low-fat milks, and an extra serving of fruit.  Breakfast is only $1.25 at elementary school, $1.35 at middle school, and $1.45 at high school.  Forsyth County school meals are still the best meal deal in town for a good start to the learning day. To learn more, including menus and nutrient information, free and reduced meal applications, MyLuchMoney (on-line meal pre-payment), and cafeteria health inspection scores, visit

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Simplifying safety on the school bus SOAR on the School Bus! Why SOAR? In a world of 15 second sound bites and instant messaging, students and drivers have no interest in reading, reciting or remembering 37 school bus rules (yes, a Michigan school district has 37 school bus rules). SOAR conveys high expectations in everyday language using a limited amount of words. SOAR, created by Elvis the School Bus Safety Owl, are the types of behavior, safe, orderly and respectful, which are expected on school buses. These behaviors are also expected in the classroom, making pupil transportation an extension of the school. Students are expected to be safe, orderly and respectful in a 30 seat classroom managed by an adult who is focused on them, positioned to observe their behaviors and has the opportunity to seek immediate assistance from a supervisor or co-worker in the same building. What types of behavior should be expected from students in a 72 seat, 38 foot long classroom that weighs 25,000 pounds, is supervised by an adult seated with their back to them and tasked with navigating traffic while moving at up to 40 miles per hour? SOAR encourages students and drivers to learn about school bus safety and make decisions that are aligned with keeping them safe. While tailored to specific situations on and around school buses, they can be applied in hundreds of everyday settings. SOAR is positive. The district’s expectations are to develop positive behaviors while teaching concepts and good decision-making skills. SOAR is simple. The concepts safe, orderly and respectful are easily understood by adults and children alike. It is easier for students to think about what keeps them safe rather than trying to remember every rule. It’s easy to apply safe, orderly and respectful habits

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learned at home to riding the school bus. “Look both ways before crossing the street,” “Look for traffic before opening a car door,” and “treat others as you would like to be treated,” applies to both home and school. SOAR encourages conceptual thinking and good decision-making rather than obeying the rules. Its expectations are positive and expansive as opposed to negative, and limited to specific rulebreaking and consequences. SOAR is easily understood and practiced by almost every family in the home, on their streets and in their own vehicle. Elvis is indeed alive! He is the face of Forsyth County Schools’ transportation department. Elvis is unfailingly positive and holds high expectations for both students and employees. He is fun and engages students, drivers and community members while they learn the common sense path to school bus safety. With a team of school bus drivers, Elvis helps students SOAR to school safely, orderly and respectfully! Elvis’ web sites include http://www., www. and www.gotsoar. com. He also connects on Facebook under Elvis the Safety Owl and Elvis Safetyowl, and at Twitter at

Welcoming students, families from abroad The Transition Services Office (TSO), located in the Almon C. Hill Center at 136 Elm Street in Cumming, recently completed ten years of service to Forsyth County Schools’ international students and their families. The student population of Forsyth County Schools continues to reflect Georgia’s increasing diversity. Demographic reports indicate that Georgia ranks 10th in diversity among the individual states. Forsyth County ranks 129th out of 159 in diversity among Georgia’s counties. Over 32 primary or native languages (other than English) were represented in the student population during the 2011-2012 academic year. Activities and programs launched initially in 2002 continue to assist recently-arrived students and their parents in a successful transition into district schools and classrooms. TSO staff members provide assistance with registration, information on the school district and individual schools, screening for English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), migrant education, and homeless education programs. In addition, parent engagement programs and activities are designed and implemented during the school year to facilitate home-school communication, improve literacy and student achievement through increased parental involvement, promote international parental involvement at every school, and facilitate family self-sufficiency. The district’s Parent-Teacher Resource Room contains parent and student learning materials available for check-out. Forsyth County Student Demographics American Indian/Alaskan 0.45% Asian 7.66% Black (Non-Hispanic) 2.55% Hispanic 12.10% Multi-Racial 2.58% Pacific Islander 0.06% White (Non-Hispanic) 74.59% Female 48.27% Male 51.73% Parents may contact the Transition Services Office by phoning (678) 947-0274 or visiting

State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:52:52 PM

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7/17/2012 7:12:55 PM

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State of Schools 2012-13 7/16/2012 6:55:38 PM

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Educating students. Developing leaders.

The right programs. The right choice.

Opening August 2012.

Student focused. Learning centered. SoS Back.indd 1

7/17/2012 9:50:10 AM

State of Schools 2012  
State of Schools 2012  

Forsyth County's State of Schools edition for 2012!