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DECEMBER 2019 Gwinnett/Walton Community & Family Magazine

Our Town GWINNETT

Grayson Dacula Loganville Lawrenceville

Up Close with Choice Educational Academy, see story on page 5.

10 14 19 22

Getting to Know: The Noah Robert Project Clean Sweep by the Grayson High Marching Band Community Spotlight: November Smiles is Serving Others Making a Difference: One on One with Coach Carrie Rajek


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On the Cover: Making the Right Choice for Education By Kristen Eleveld Living in a county like Gwinnett means you have dozens of options for education, but how do you know which path is the right one for your child? For many parents, there is only one right choice: Choice Educational Academy (CEA) in Stone Mountain. CEA isn’t just another school – it has taken the extra step to combine traditional learning with alternative methods to give each child a unique experience that both works within any challenges and encourages new exploration in education. The leader of this educational charge to victory is Nancy Gordeuk, whose considerable experience in the teaching field makes her a natural success at running a school like CEA. It all began fifteen years ago, when Nancy was searching for the right educational fit for her son, who was struggling with dyslexia and an auditory processing disorder. As a teacher herself for many years, Nancy recognized that, while her son was more than capable of learning the material he needed to know, the traditional school system was not able to give him the tools and guidance he needed to work with his difficulties. This prompted Nancy to begin homeschooling her son – and Choice Educational Academy was born. Word spread quickly through the community, and soon Nancy found herself tutoring local students, as well as helping them with credit recovery in order to earn their high school degree. “People know I love kids, and that I just want to help them succeed,” said Nancy. With more and more regular students coming to learn, Nancy knew she would need a bigger space to accommodate everyone. The school operated in a building in Lilburn for some

time, and when they outgrew that space, Nancy found another building that was available in Stone Mountain. In 2012, Choice Educational Academy officially opened its doors to the public, inviting all types of learners to join them. CEA is distinct among its peers for many reasons, but especially with its excellent teacher/student ratios. Each classroom only has between eight to 10 students, and if their number begins to grow, CEA works to open a new classroom instead of just adding more students to existing classes. This allows each teacher to offer one-on-one time with each student and work with them to overcome his or her particular challenge. This model means every student has a high chance of success as each begins to understand how he or she learns and how that can be applied to the classroom. Smaller class sizes also allow Nancy to be more hands-on with each student in her school, so much so that kids often seek her out to tell her about their day or to ask her questions. “I love to see the kids and hear about what’s going on in their lives,” said Nancy. “I see everyone’s grades daily, and am able to guide them through which steps they need to take next if they want to succeed.” CEA also offers a program specifically designed to help students improve their reading and catch up to the reading level of their peers. Led by Keyanna Moreau, the program is tailored to find out how each student learns the best, and then offers resources to increase reading skills. The program is a transitional one, created specifically for students to participate in until they are able to attend a class with their peers. It may take one year, or three, but CEA continues to work with every need until the student graduates. “The one thing I want parents to know is that a learning disability does not dictate a student’s success!” Keyanna said.

“A child may take some time to blossom, but once they find the right process, they will fly.” Keyanna is passionate about helping students understand that they can learn anything; it’s only a matter of discovering how their brain works and what their process needs to be. She also encourages the kids she teaches to use the information they learn to continue to better themselves in all aspects of their lives – school, home, even future jobs can all be affected by understanding these key aspects of how they learn. “It takes a village, especially when it comes to helping a child learn,” said Keyanna. “We are not here to judge – we are only here to help.” It is this community-oriented philosophy that makes Choice Educational Academy a wonderful place for children with all types of abilities to not only learn, but to thrive. “We care about the kids here,” said Nancy. “When they have the right tools, they can all succeed.” More information at www.choiceeducationalacademy.com.

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Our Town Gwinnett/Walton Community & Family Magazine

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IN THIS ISSUE

5 On the Cover: Making the Right Choice for Education 7 From the Publisher: One Man’s Opinion 7 Getting to Know TOTY: Vivarine Argilagos of Lovin Elementary 8 Learning Lessons: Tips to Raising Children Who Work Well with Others Service When You Need Us! 8 Holiday Tips: Learning to Spend Less time Cooking and More Time with Family 9 Moving to Gwinnett County Was Like Coming Home  Locally Owned & Operated Getting to Know: The Noah Robert Project 10  Broken Spring Replacement with 10 Cheap Date Gwinnett: Finding Fun without Breaking the Bank Lifetime Warranty on the Springs 12 Brookwood Science Olympiad Team Continues to Amaze $20 Off  Garage Door Repair or New Installation 14 The Sheridan at Eastside: Putting the HEART Back in Senior Living with this  Opener Repair or New Installation 14 Clean Sweep by the Grayson High School Marching Band Coupon! McClure Health Science High School – Picking a Pathway to Better Health 15  Cable and Roller Replacement 16 Sports Talk: Loganville Wins Fall Middle School Golf League Season  Quiet Your Loud and Squeaky Door 16 Realities of Recycling  Same Day Repair Service 19 November Smiles is Serving Others  Certified, Experienced Technicians 20 G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds Book Exchange  15+ Years of Experience 21 Estate Planning and the Differently-Abled Child – An Interview with DJ Jeyaram 22 Teacher Feature: Coach Rajek Has Made Lifelong Changes in Gwinnett Schools We treat our customers exactly how we want to be treated! 22 Crane’s Corner: More Than a Chip Off the Old Block PAGE 6 Become an Advertising Partner: Visit OurTownGwinnett.com or Call 678-825-2049 Our Town Gwinnett


From the Publisher: One Man’s Opinion

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Buying travel is a unique purchase, because you are buying both a product and a service. A travel agent

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4

They are your advocate. Whether you need an upgrade to an Oceanview or a ticket out of harm’s way after an earthquake, your travel agent will be there for you every

By Ryan T. Sauers

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Why book with a travel agent?

5 6 6

step of the way.

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Vacation professional knows who call to get it fixed on the spot. professional gets to knowyour you and yoursubtle family,Your your orbuying cruise line best match needs. the one that meets requirements for this unique trip. knows how tothat sell both parts –your airline andto resort can help you decipher the differences and choose of offers from cruise lines, and you, the special passes, the and little touches that are how not to available to everyone. and research. Whether your flight is canceled, or the wrong room was and dislikes. You are soupgrades much more than a sale to them – media form, or our online version. If you have not done so, please join the Our Town Gwinnett and little knows sell both parts – the airline and resort can help you decipher the subtle differences and choose hotels. Yourorvacation consultant can help you cruise line that best match booked, your one needs. the that meets your requirements phone call will get it fixed. andone they provide the human connection that makes every for this unique trip touches that are not available to everyone. Community Forum group on Facebook that has exclusive information for members. more pleasantyour and meaningful. or cruise differences line that best match your needs. thetransaction one that meets requirements for this unique trip. decipher the subtle in choose the one They are your advocate. Whether you need an upgrade Save time Knowledge is power. From theare visa travel and passport and money. Not only that meets your requirements for this unique trip. We will be sharing more news and events than ever in 2020 and will try to cover as many of to an Oceanview or a ticket out of harm’s way after an requirements to the name of the maître d’ at the best They can offer customized experiences that no one else Save time and money. Not only are travel agents able and agents able to secure the best possible rates They are your advocate. Whether you need an upgrade Knowledge is power. From the visa passport them as possible. In all these places, you will find positive news/events that should encourage us. I They are your advocate. Whether you need 7 8 to secure the best possible rates but the they eliminate can. A travel professional has the connections to arrange They are your Whether you need an upgrade Knowledge istown, power. From visa andhas passport but they eliminate the in stress that comes along earthquake, youradvocate. travel agent will be there for you every restaurant a good travel agent the to an Oceanview or a ticket out of harm’s way after an requirements to the name of the maître d’ at inside the best the side trips for you, the special passes, the upgrades the stress that comes along with vacation planning an upgrade to an Oceanview or a ticket out challenge all of us to keep a “thankful and hopeful heart” as we enter this new year – a year fresh At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, your local Consultants provide clients every option to an Oceanview or a ticket outlittle ofVacation harm’sthatway after an requirements to with the name of trip the cruise maître d’ at the best with vacation planning and research. touches are not available to everyone. and research. step of the way. information that makes your perfect. earthquake, your travel agentand will be there for you every restaurant in town, a good travel agent has the inside of harm’s way after an earthquake, your travel for new beginnings. earthquake, your travel agentto willluxury, be there for you every restaurant in town, aprices! good agent has the inside Atand Expedia yourtravel local from ocean river CruiseShipCenters, – all at Expedia agent will be there for you every step of the way. step ofto thecontemporary way. information that makes your trip perfect. The past is the past. The present IS a present. The future is what we must work on, one hour, step of the way. information that makes your trip perfect. Vacation Consultants provide clients with every Knowledge is power. From the visa and They have your back. WhenAtthings wrong, a travel They are your personal shopper. Over time your travel Expediago CruiseShipCenters, your local Vacation Consultants provide clients with every cruise option one day, and one week at a time to make this community an even better place. And we can do just cruise option from the contemporary to luxury, from to contemporary to luxury, ocean and river – all at Expedia prices! passport requirements to the name of the professional knows who to call to get it fixed on the spot. professional gets to today know you.and your family, your likes Contact us to start planning nextand dream that, one person at a time. So, start with small things. Say please. Say thank you. 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Again, Contact us to start planning your professional knows who to call to get it fixed on spot. professional gets to know and your family, your likes travel agentbooked, has the inside information that makes professional knows who to call to get it fixed on the spot. professional gets to know you and your family, your likes one phone call will get it fixed. and they provide the human connection that makes every next dream vacation today. we are ALL human, so tap into your childlike spirit and have fun again during the holiday season. Whether your flight is iscanceled, anddislikes. dislikes.You Youare are much more than a sale to them your trip perfect. Whether your flight canceled,ororthe thewrong wrong room room was was and soso much more than a sale to them – –

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I want to share how much I appreciate all stakeholders in the Our Town Gwinnett community. I wish you a safe and blessed holiday season. We could not do it without you. So, until next time and as always: this is my town, your town, Our Town!

Getting to Know TOTY: Vivarine Argilagos of Lovin Elementary By Traci Sanders Twenty-year teaching veteran at Lovin Elementary, Vivarine Argilagos, was recently named Teacher of the Year (TOTY). This is Argilagos’s first TOTY award, and she couldn’t be more excited. She loves seeing her first-grade students blossom and grow through questioning and exposure to the rich experiences her classroom instruction provides. Throughout her career, Argilagos has also taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. This dedicated educator shared that there is very little difference when teaching different grade levels. “The curriculum is different,” Argilagos says, “but the needs are the same. Regardless of the grade level you teach, students need educators who are loving, dedicated, energized, excited, and determined to see them succeed. They want to know you are genuinely concerned and invested in them. They want to know they can trust you. Once you establish the relationships, students are more willing to give it their all for you...but ultimately for themselves.”  Family plays a huge rule in Argilagos’s life. She is the mom of two boys, ages twenty-one and twenty-five, and a seventeen-year-old daughter. Regarding her family’s reaction to her award, Argilagos states, “They were very excited for me. The actual video of the County surprising me has been a family favorite. My family is very happy and proud.” One thing Argilagos would like parents and students to understand about teaching is that it’s more than a profession. “Teachers are the shapers of tomorrow,” she says, “and we are dedicated to making sure every student we come in contact with is positively impacted by the experience they have in our classes.” This award has been a humbling experience for Argilagos. She feels it’s an honor to even be considered because she realizes she is among many well-deserving teachers, and she is proud to Continued on page 9

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Learning Lessons: Tips to Raising Children Who Work Well with Others

Holiday Tips: Learning to Spend Less time Cooking and More Time with Family

By Tanisha Turner

By Our Town Staff

Cooperation is a basic life skill that allows children to make friends and work successfully with others. The definition of cooperation is simple enough – combining energies to work towards a common goal. But teaching it requires a combination of character attributes, such as respect, honesty, patience, and thoughtfulness. Every parent wants his or her child to exhibit these skills, but they are tricky lessons to teach since young children are naturally focused on themselves. The good news is that cooperation can be learned over time through purposeful activities and frequent encouragement from parents and caregivers. We know that children learn character mainly through imitation. They listen, observe, and learncooperation skills by watching the words and actions of their caregivers and parents. When your child sees you working happily with others, he will sense the joy you feel and want to experience that joy, too. By practicing cooperative skills in front of your child, you are teaching behaviors that will ultimately help your child succeed. Here are some examples: • Listen carefully to others so that you can understand what they are saying. • Share or take turns when more than one person wants the same thing. Start at home with family conversations that allow everyone time to talk. • Compromise when you have a serious conflict. • Do your part of a shared task and do the very best that you can. When you complete your task, ask others how you might help them complete their work. • Show appreciation for what people contribute to a group or team. • Encourage others to do their best. • Include everyone and make everyone feel needed. Help your child recognize that everybody has something valuable to offer in a group. In addition to serving as a role model, it’s important to be intentional about teaching cooperation to your child. Use the following everyday activities as opportunities to encourage your child to cooperate with family and friends: • When you read a story with your child, point out times when the characters cooperate with each other. Discuss how the characters feel and how much easier it is to accomplish the task when Continued on page 12

The holidays are a time to celebrate and make priceless memories with friends and family. However, when you are the person tasked with preparing and cooking for everyone else, you may often have to miss out on all the family fun and those moments that matter most. Here are some tips to get you out of the kitchen and to give you more time to enjoy the company of loved ones, without sacrificing any of your delicious holiday traditions. Plan: Preparation is key! Make a to-do list of the necessary tasks (purchasing ingredients, etc.) that can be completed ahead of time. Set the table the day before to save time on the day of your gathering. Be sure you are well stocked on things you may run out of or could dirty easily – from cloth napkins to beverage options – so you don’t stress the day of and you can truly relish every minute with family. Ask for help: When time is not on your side, there’s nothing better than a little helping hand, especially when that help could be delivered right to your doorstep. Boston Market, known this time of year as the Holiday Experts, has fully prepared, pre-cooked holiday meal spreads, as well as a la carte sides and desserts that can be pre-ordered and picked up at any location nationwide. You can even get a complete holiday dinner and have it shipped directly to your door! Divide the responsibilities: Who says you must do all the work? Ask friends and family to pitch in – a little help goes a long way. A few weeks before your gathering, send a message to your guests inviting them to help with beverages, picking up ice, or bringing a side dish or dessert. And when the meal is over, have a designated clean-up crew with multiple people to get the job done faster. Leftovers for house guests: Even if you have several guests staying in your home, don’t feel obligated to cook brand new meals each day. Turn holiday leftovers into tomorrow’s breakfast or lunch by adding leftover meat to omelets or putting together a sandwich bar. There are so many delicious ways to plus up holiday leftovers, like a turkey and Swiss bread pudding, or even a turkey shepherd’s pie! Continued on page 10

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SRS will be found under the Hobbies and Personal Enrichment section. Questions about registration? Call the Continuing Education Dept. at 678.226.6739.

Unable to attend class? Call 770.931.1414 today to schedule a no cost consultation - even if you just need a second opinion. For more information visit www.RogerSGreen.com Investment Advisor Representative offering securities & advisory services through Cetera Advisors LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor, Broker/Dealer, member FINRA, SIPC. Green Financial, Gwinnett Tech & Cetera Advisors are not affiliated. Awards are not to be considered a guarantee of future results, nor as an endorsement by any client. Best of Gwinnett winners are chosen via voting and editors’ input, & opinions are vetted with the use of other available information. Pinnacle award rankings are based on growth, revenue, community service, & other criteria. Barron’s: based on total assets (AUM), revenue, & other factors. Office located at 3700 Crestwood Pkwy, Ste 140, Duluth, GA 30096.

PAGE 8

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Moving to Gwinnett County Was Like Coming Home

Vivarine Argilagos Continued from page 7

By Rhonda Frankhouser

see their passion celebrated. Argilagos has taken her educational and mentoring role a step further by being part of the Aspiring Leader Program – a program that is designed to prepare educators for administration roles, specifically of an assistant principal. She feels an administration position will allow her to influence more students and teachers. Argilagos expressed her joy in being chosen for this year’s cohort. “I am a part of Cohort 11,” she says. “I have had the opportunity to learn how I can continue to positively impact student achievement at a large scale: school-wide, as well as learn how to effectively support teachers in utilizing the instructional strategies that push student achievement forward. I am continuing to grow from this experience, and I am excited to see where it takes me.” It’s evident that Vivarine Argilagos is well-deserving of the TOTY award for Lovin Elementary for her dedication to not only the care and protection of her students, but also her endless efforts to provide an excellent educational experience whether inside the classroom or out. More information at https://www.gcpsk12.org/LovinES.

Christmas at my grandparent’s home could have graced the cover of Southern Living Magazine, which was odd since we lived in California. Their house exploded with old time holiday cheer, red silk ribbons, and lighted garland dangling over every doorway. Stockings filled with Grandpa’s famous oranges dangled from the fireplace. Two eight-foot, fresh-cut, Douglas firs were trimmed in silver tinsel and twinkling white lights, with piles of brightly wrapped packages spilling from underneath each tree. The delicious aromas emanating from the kitchen really made Christmas come alive. Grandma busily recreated family recipes passed down from generations. A giant, honey-crusted ham cooled on a cutting board alongside a maple-whiskey brined turkey. Brown beans boiled with smoked hocks, meal-covered okra fried to perfection in well-seasoned, cast iron skillets, and crispy cornbread browned in the old Wedgewood oven. The women laid the thirty-foot dining table with Blue Willow China and fanned red napkins, while the men strummed country classics on acoustic guitars and a single twanging banjo. Grandma stirred an oversized pot of chicken and dumplings with one hand, a mason jar filled with sweet tea clasped in the other, while Grandpa hugged each of us at the front door as we passed into the Christmas wonderland. “Y’all come on in and stay a-while.” His rich Southern accent and broad, white smile made you feel like the most important person in the world. My grandparent’s gracious country charm and Southern holiday traditions brought the miracle of Christmas to life for me, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything in the world. Back in the 1930s, my father’s relatives were spread throughout Georgia and Alabama, having migrated from England and Scotland nearly a century before. The Great Depression, along with tariffs encouraging foreign consumption, killed what was left of their meager earning potential from farming. They had to make a change or die of starvation. My brave grandparents packed their few belongings and headed west with six hungry children in tow. California was the Promised Land. During my grandparent’s lifetime, California was indeed, the land of opportunity, but since then things have dramatically changed. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love the West Coast and the amazing memories I’ve made there. But the devastating drought, choking pollution, uncontrollable fires, increasing taxes, crazy high cost of living, illegal immigration overloading the state’s resources, all added to the deterioration of leadership, have really taken a toll on a once great state. So, when my husband got a job offer in Georgia, the decision to move was an easy one for us. He was ready for a new challenge, and we were recent empty nesters, so why not? For me, it was a chance to start anew, a time for me to let go of my fourteen-year hospice career and focus on my writing. I couldn’t pack fast enough. When we arrived in Atlanta and started our search for the perfect place to live, we were immediately drawn to the people and beauty of Gwinnett County – Grayson, to be exact. We fell in Continued on page 22

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Holiday Tips Continued from page 8

Getting to Know: The Noah Robert Project

Use the right tools: Save time by getting creative in the kitchen. If you run out of oven space, the slow cooker is a convenient alternative for baking desserts like hot fudge brownies, apple crisp, and even pecan pie. You can also find easy no-bake recipes or dishes that can be made quickly in the microwave. Skip extra grocery trips: When cooking for a crowd, you’re bound to forget an item or two from your grocery list. Avoid unnecessary extra trips to the store by knowing your substitutes. If you run out of butter, you can substitute for olive oil or vegetable oil. Happen to forget the buttermilk? No worries – use watered-down yogurt or sour cream. Create a schedule: If you’re still worried about spending too much time standing over the stove, create a schedule to guide your celebration. Block time for socializing, cooking, and preparing for guests; but don’t forget to be flexible. Set out board games, crafts, or photo albums – anything to encourage bonding and conversation so you’re not tempted to keep working in the kitchen. This year don’t let your holiday cooking duties overtake the joy of the season. Follow these useful tips to make the most of your festive time! (BPT)

By Traci Sanders

678-469-1599 | scottpressurewash@gmail.com

One Lawrenceville woman is leading the way for autistic children and their families to no longer simply be tolerated in the public-school system, but understood and embraced. A mom of four with two special needs children, Holly Terei wrote and published, Jacob the Flapping Dinosaur Goes to School, a children’s book based on her autistic ten-year-old son, Noah. The family poured all its financial resources into the publication of the book. When funds ran out to cover the cost of marketing and expanding awareness of the story, the family started a Kickstarter campaign in 2017. They raised $13,000 in twenty days through the support of teachers and the autistic community. Holly soon realized that she had so much more than a book in her hands. She had a tool that could bridge the gap between educators and autistic children, as well as neurotypical and autistic children. She soon created The Noah Robert Project, a program that offers a new approach to teaching autism acceptance. Since 2017, Holly has visited forty schools in surrounding states to introduce the book as a tool for educators and non-autistic students. PBIS, a peer intervention program, has been an instrumental resource in allowing schools the funding to pay Holly to visit their locations all over the United States. During these visits, Holly educates teachers and parents with resources such as books, blogs, and websites for more information. She reads the book to the classes to open the conversation about autism. Holly is all about empowering people everywhere with proper education on special needs of various kinds. Her oldest son Roman has a condition known as 22Q Deletion Syndrome, which basically means he’s missing a small portion of the 22nd chromosome in his body. Various levels of deletion cause a wide variety of issues. Roman is going through speech therapy to address his language difficulties. The entire family plays a role in the book, but Noah’s sister, Lydia, is a key character. She is represented as Sarah in the story because she and Noah have a special bond. Holly doesn’t plan to stop at the book and school visits. She has several additional elements to The Noah Robert Project in the works such as more frequent Multisensory Storytime events Continued on page 15

Cheap Date Gwinnett: Finding Fun without Breaking the Bank By Beth Volpert Johansen

PAGE 10

Talk about an affordable date night came to our dinner table on a rare and precious evening when all the “children” had gathered to visit for a family birthday. A couple of the lads had been creative when it came to planning and executing time with their girls while keeping to a budget. So what was an acceptable place or event for a date that wouldn’t break the bank? Because we are just shy of being the Partridge Family when it comes to our love of music, the variety of local free concerts topped our list. Suwanee Town Green has the large open grassy area to the back of their venue, which provides a great place for the kids to join a soccer game in the making. And then there is the fountain for splashy fun. Grayson’s new ampavilion has attracted some big names and solid favorites. And it isn’t much ado about nothing because they even have Shakespeare on the stage! Norcross offers one of the best strolls around town and free music ranging from rock to jazz. In Peachtree Corners, flex your mind and body with Yoga on the Green on Tuesdays. It’s great fun to have a weeknight date! Make sure to check back in on Fridays for their free Games on the Green! Duluth offers Whatever Floats Your Boat Festival with music and fun for the kids. Dates can be with or without the kids – whatever floats your boat. Leading the county and leading the way for free fun is the City of Lawrenceville. Hardly an evening goes by without a movie on the lawn (check out movies on all the city sites – there is something for everyone). Festivals and concerts are among the expected, but the simple act of strolling the square has made a huge comeback. While Lawrenceville might not have the trendy appeal of scooters on the beltline, the city has worked hard to establish a stroll-able square suitable for teens to the “mature” dater. This gal and her husband found that a cheap date meant we were able to get in a few steps, window shop, stop by Nancy’s Candy and Spices for a bag of her incredible lemon almonds ($3), wander down to Liberty Books for a nice second-hand read or Galactic Continued on page 20

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Learning Lessons Continued from page 8 they work together. • Schedule household chores at times when all family members can work together to finish them. Praise your child for her attempts to help, and refrain from redoing the chore when she’s finished. Help her see the fun of working together to accomplish a goal. Talk about how much faster the chores were completed than if mom or dad had to do it alone. Point out how cooperation with chores allows for more time for family fun. • “Catch” your child sharing or helping someone and show your appreciation. Encourage the behavior but refrain from giving material rewards; they are not necessary. Children should learn the joy of helping others without expecting something in return. By taking advantage of these moments and creating learning opportunities for your child, you will help him or her understand the importance of cooperation. Working together becomes fun for children as they develop an understanding of the skills and techniques needed to achieve a common goal. Tanisha Turner is Owner of Primrose School at Sugarloaf Parkway. More information at www. PrimroseSugarloafParkway.com

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Gwinnett Business RadioX is cared for by Eastside Medical Center and we are proud to be their #CommunityPartners. Eastside Medical Center has been a healthcare leader for more than 39 years providing quality care to patients in Gwinnett and surrounding counties. Located in Snellville Ga, this beautiful multi-campus system of care offers a multitude of comprehensive medical and surgical programs including urgent care and 24-hour emergency services. Visit Eastsidemedical.com to learn more. Eastside’s healthcare experts provide their insight on Eastside Medical’s monthly podcast on businessradiox.com, check out the latest episode to learn more about Eastside’s high quality services, close to home in Gwinnett County.

Gwinnett Business RadioX is thankful to be such active participants in our beautiful Community. Connect with us! Follow us on Social Media Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn @Gwinnett RadioX To learn more about podcasting and all of our studio fun, email Amanda Pearch at amanda@businessradiox.com

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Brookwood Science Olympiad Team Continues to Amaze By Kim Hill What entices high school students to beg their teachers to let them stay after school each day and Fridays until very late, work in a cold Briscoe Field hangar on Saturdays, and spend hours of Christmas break in a basement using the wood shop? According to Brookwood High School Assistant Principal Joe Cox, and teachers Dan Miller, Jorge Diaz, and Charles Thornton, such dedication comes from being members of the Brookwood Science Olympiad team. The students have been rewarded for their efforts, winning state championships eleven out of the last twelve years. Science Olympiad (SO) is a scholastic competition where teams of fifteen students compete in twenty-three events that cover all the major fields of science and engineering. Some of the events are lab-based where students will work on a chemistry project in the hosting college’s laboratory; others are engineering based where students will build something like a bridge to bring to the competition to be evaluated for structural efficiency. An event called Disease Detectives has students trace an outbreak of a disease back to its original source using the same statistical methods as scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would do. “It really gives kids an interesting perspective into many different fields of science,” says Cox. The Brookwood team met the third week of school to begin preparation for the first competition in October. Invitational events take place until February when regional events are held. State tournaments are usually at the end of March, with the top two teams in the state going on to the national tournament in May. Brookwood hosts the Brookwood Invitational in January. Sponsored by 3M, the event is the largest high school Science Olympiad in the state of Georgia, averaging about a thousand competitors. Additionally, they host the Gwinnett County elementary school regional tournament, which is a great service opportunity for the students because they write and run the events. The program has increased the number of students passing AP exams, and Diaz says many students credit the program with their preparation for college. Two national gold medal winners won a $2,500 scholarship from Lockheed Martin. One of the winners went to Georgia Tech, earning a degree in nuclear engineering. He wrote a letter to the coaches saying that Science Olympiad was probably the most important part of the science preparation he received at Brookwood High School. Cox says, “It allows these kids a competitive outlet; it allows them to be part of a team. When you’re in a competition with twenty-three different events, everyone has to pull his or her weight, or you don’t get to the next level.” Cox coached Science Olympiad previously at Meadowcreek High School and took that team to the national tournament in 2003 and 2005. He presented a challenge then that the first team to win a state championship and earn six gold medals could shave his head. That challenge was finally met in 2015 at Brookwood. “Every year we tell the kids we need to do better than the year before,” says Diaz, “but then at a certain point it’s ‘how much better can we do?’” Last year Diaz continued the tradition and the students asked if they could also shave his beard. “I said sure they could shave my head, shave my beard, whatever, because I knew they weren’t going to go past six medals.” Diaz lost out because not only did the team earn seven gold medals, they had 18 medals overall, and earned an award in every single event, reaching their best score ever. “They continue to surprise us,” he says. Cox, who now works with the team in an advisory capacity, explains there are usually ten staff members coaching, as well as many retirees who come back year after year to help. He is also very proud that a large number of alumni continue to be involved. A 2007 graduate who is now an electrical engineer for Delta spent two consecutive Sundays teaching students how to build a circuit for a device they were working on. Miller says he could have come in and done the circuit for them in half an hour, but he knows that as a competitor, having somebody else do the work for you is worthless. “You have to know how it’s built so you can troubleshoot, so if you break it you can fix it.” A perfect example of this was when one young lady competed in a rubber band helicopter event. She had built her model to exact specifications, and heard throughout the day the flight time to beat was a minute, 20 seconds. She knew that she could put up a minute, 50 second flight. Sadly, though, the rubber band broke and trashed her helicopter. She had a backup helicopter, but something catastrophic happened with it also, and she was left with only parts. She had six minutes to get off a successful flight. With tears streaming down her face, she started grabbing parts and put something together, putting up a flight of about 50 seconds, which was good enough for 6th place in the tournament. Miller points out if she had not gotten a flight off, she would have finished 25th, probably putting a state championship out of reach. Cox says the time she spent working on her device made the difference. “She owned that event and that’s what enabled her to pull off that comeback.” Thornton, who came to Brookwood three years ago from Berkmar where he was Teacher of the Year, will take over as head coach next year when Diaz retires. He admits there is a lot of pressure to uphold the established standards, but he has had fantastic guidance on how to get to those expectations. Continued on page 16

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A T H E N S

O R T H O P E D I C

C L I N I C

Preventing Osteoporosis Throughout your life, there are things you can do to prevent bone loss:

10-20 20-35 35-50

50+

YEARS OLD:

YEARS OLD:

YEARS OLD:

YEARS OLD:

1,300 mg of calcium per day

1,000 mg of calcium per day

1,000 mg of calcium per day

1,000 mg of calcium per day

Limit soft drinks but eat greens!

Weight-bearing exercises

Exercise is crucial

Get some sun & exercise

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BEST BEST BEST BEST

The Sheridan at Eastside: Putting the HEART Back in Senior Living

Clean Sweep by the Grayson High School Marching Band

By Kristen Eleveld

By Beth Volpert-Johansen

If you are looking for the right This school year the Grayson High School Marching place for you or a beloved senior Band (GHSMB) is celebrating its twentieth anniversary, in your life, Senior Lifestyle’s The so it was extra special when the band made a clean Sheridan at Eastside fits the bill in sweep this past October at the March the Plank (MTP) every way. From their state-of-theInvitational where they received all Superior scores and art facilities to the team that drives 1st place in each category. The MTP adhered to the their mission each day, you will five judge format set forth in the rules and regulations find everything you need at this When it comes to When comes roof for a “Caption” contest and festival.itThere was to one finding the perfect Snellville senior living campus. judge each for Band Music,for Percussion Music, Band/ for your home we your home we have a HUGE selection When it comesVisual, to finding the perfect With 216 units that will provide When it comes to roof finding the brought perfect roof Percussion Guard, and Drum Major. The GHSMB home eighteen trophies. multiple levels of care, The Sheridan at Eastside is one of only three such facilities in Georgia,for andyour of brands and colo ofhighest brands and colors to choose from, so scoring Trophies were awarded scoring band in a each class, and then overall highest home we have athe HUGE selection for for your home we have HUGE selection one of 180 across the nation. Not only is The Sheridan unique among its peers with the newest band awards were presented we regardless of class or size of the band. Four classes were represented at your we can make can make your house look perfect. All of brands and colors choose from, ofto brands and colors toranging choose and most advanced facilities and care equipment, it is also situated in one of the most convenient thisso event, fromfrom, Class A,so the smallest, to Class our roofs locations in Snellville, right by Eastside Medical Center. ofmake our roofs come one of the best AAAAA, largest. GHSMB is All aof class AAAA band.come we can make your house perfect. All thewith we canlook your house look perfect. However, even though it boasts one of the best campuses in the state, the facilities at The Trophies were awarded for Wind Music, Percussion in the in warranties inwith the one industry and wewarranties use of our roofs come with one of the best of our roofs come of the best Sheridan are not what make it stand so far above the rest. Their real secret lies in their team memMusic, Wind/Percussion Visual, Visual Ensemble, above standard ro above standard roofing materials. bers, whose goal is to create an excellent atmosphere for each and every resident. warranties in the industry and we use and Drum Major. trophy was also awarded to the warranties in the industry andAwe use “This is more than a beautiful building,” said Executive Director Brian Jackson. “We have built highest overall scoring band in each class. The three above standard roofing materials. above standard roofing materials. a team of people who have hospitality at heart and genuinely want to do a great job every day.” highest overall scoring bands regardless of classificaThe Sheridan has made a practice out of making senior care the first priority for each memtion received trophies, including the GHSMB which ber of their team – and they do it with HEART. Their core values are Hospitality, Excellence, got the Grand Champion Award. Appreciation, Respect, and Teamwork, and it is these values that propel the staff at The Sheridan The band is under the direction of Robert J. Barnes, Certified Professionals Certified Professionals towards a standard of excellence that spills over into everything they do. a Tri-M Music Honor Society Sponsor who has been “Our staff cares about seniors,” said Brian. “We wouldn’titwant to be into anyyour other industry.” the band director When it a comes to your home you need a since its inception here at Grayson. When comes home you need Certified Certified Brian has been part of Professionals the senior care industry sinceProfessionals he earned his culinary degree over fifteen Barnes is an original staff member, having started the years ago.When Throughitancomes event where washome provided for a need senior living community, first company that is fully insured and company that isafully insured and certified to food your you bandcertified program in 2000-2001 when the school opened. When it comes to your home youheneed a learned about what it meant to provide seniors with the highest level of care. From there, he found “We have won our class many times in the past and have come in 2nd overall several times,” Barnes before youfirst letcompetition anyoneofput your hard earned you let anyone put your hard his purpose and passion, and knew wasinsured whatbefore he supposed tocertified be doing with his life. He believes company that is this fully and company that is fully insured and certified said.earned “This fall 2019 marks the first competition where we scored first in every that The Sheridan at Eastside is not just another option for those seeking a safe place for their aging scoring category and won the top trophy. I think a little celebration is in order.” home at risk. Here at Perimeter Roofing we home athard risk.earned Here atyour Perimeter Roofing we before you let anyone put your before you let anyone put Continued onhard page 16earned More information at https://www.graysonhighband.net/

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McClure Health Science High School – Picking a Pathway to Better Health

WELLNESS STUDIO GIFT CERTIFICATES WELLNESS THEY MAKE GREAT HOLIDAY GIFTS STUDIO GIFT CERTIFICATES

By K. Coats

McClure Health Science High School isn’t your typical high school experience. Of course, there are the usual factors that are universal to all high schools: tests, spirit week, and clubs. But students at McClure Health Science also have the freshman courses of Medical Ethics and the Law and Current Issues in Healthcare. And if you get into a health emergency, then THEY MAKE GREAT HOLIDAY GIFTS McClure Health Science is a good place to be because all students are required to be CPR and First Aid certified. That makes sense because McClure Health Science High School specializes as a Health and Science Pathway school.C a l l - 7 7 0 - 5 5 4 - 7 9 7 7   2 0 G r a y s o n N e w H o p e R d . , G r a y s o n 3 0 0 1 7 Pathways are becoming increasingly popular across the county with the goal of giving students hands-on experience in a specific field along with foundational training and even certification – all prior to graduating high school. Students at McClure Health Science have an enviable array THEY MAKE  GREAT HOLIDAY GIFTS of resources. Principal Nicole Mosley explains, “Students can choose from one of three pathways: clinical, medical support, and health IT. Certifications are embedded within all pathways.” The pathways themselves are filled with meaningful experiences, tools, guest lecturers from the medical field, and business partners, including partnering with HealthMPowers, using artificial intel- C a l l - 7 7 0 - 5 5 4 - 7 9 7 7   2 0 G r a y s o n N e w H o p e R d . , G r a y s o n 3 0 0 1 7 ligence, and a patient communication simulator. Mosley is a long-term faculty member of Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS). She began her career at GCPS in 1996 as a teacher at Summerour Middle School and then on to Peachtree Ridge High School. In 2007 Mosley began her transition to administration at Berkmar Middle School and then back to Peachtree High School. She would eventually become principal of Call - 770-554-7977   20 Grayson New Hope Rd., Grayson 30017 Berkmar Middle School in 2014, and she is the first principal of McClure Health Science High School as it opened this school year. Mosely’s vision for McClure Health Science focuses on innovation and curiosity. She emphasizes a goal to “Awaken the Wonder” in her students. “This simple phrase, Awaken the Wonder, is Dr. McClure’s vision to prepare the new generation to be both competent and compassionate healthcare professionals” Mosley said. “Awaken The Wonder at McClure Health Science means that we as educators instill in our students the drive to wonder and to be curious, the drive to create a promising future, and the drive to make their impact on the world around us.” This goes perfectly with the Pathway curriculum hands-on approach as students are encouraged to explore their interests in the health and science field. Make your holiday “WE WILL advance the meaning and purpose in each student’s life by providing relevant Make your holiday opportunities for college and career pathways that unfold into a promising future,” Mosley added. Make your holiday reservations today! We want to thank our reservations today! “Our planning for the student experience is driven by a desire to create authentic and challengreservations today! We want to thank our We want to thank our ing classroom environments. This student experience features direct learning from health care (770)995-3500 (770)995-3500 (770)995-3500 industry professionals through the seminar series, as well as meaningful and engaging classroom Campers another Campers for for another Campers for another activities designed to help our students grow as critical thinkers and problem-solvers.” As the Pathways curriculum design gains popularity across the county, it’s nice to know that great year! great year! great year! GCPS students are already taking full advantage of the opportunities McClure Health Science offers. With Dr. Robert McClure on the school board and Principal Mosley at the helm, the community can expect great things from McClure Health Science High School. On behalf of the community, thank you for making these wonderful resources available to GCPS students, and we look forward to seeing what all they accomplish. More information at https://www.gcpsk12.org/McClureHealthScienceHS.

WELLNESS STUDIO GIFT CERTIFICATES

The Noah Robert Project Continued from page 10 where she reads the book, does music and movement activities, and offers sensory bins for further exploration. These are available to autistic and non-autistic children all over Georgia. Backpacks, t-shirts, and coffee mugs are also available for sale on the website. Holly has two other children’s books in the pipeline as well. One is geared toward support for parents of autistic children, and the other is a variation of the first book in the Jacob series, where Jacob goes to the library rather than school. One thing Holly would like people to realize about autism through the themes in her books and her educational visits is: “Being different is okay. Having special needs children is not a curse or a mistake. It’s a true calling.” More information at https://www.thenoahrobertproject.com or https://www.facebook.com/noahrobertproj/

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The Sheridan at Eastside Continued from page 14 loved ones to live, but a vital part of the Snellville community as a whole. “This place is unlike any other facility,” Brian said. “It is going to be something special.” If you are interested in learning more about The Sheridan, you’re in luck! The facility does not officially open until November, but their Welcome Center is ready and waiting to give you all the information you need. Right now, they are taking reservations for the independent living facilities – all you have to do is give them a call at 770-983.6846 to schedule a tour and learn why this campus will outshine all others. More information at https://www.seniorlifestyle.com/property/sheridan-eastside/.

Brookwood Science Olympiad Team Continued from page 12 Cox remembers the first year: “We pushed those kids hard because we could see what they were capable of.” Miller says Cox instilled the belief in them that winning was possible. The standard was set, and they have been meeting and exceeding it every year since. More information at https://www.brookwoodhighschool.net/

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Sports Talk: Loganville Wins Fall Middle School Golf League Season Our Town Staff Loganville’s Middle School golf team won the fall season team competition. The team was comprised of Colton Christensen, Carson Gilreath, Peyton Hogan, Gavin Moncrief, Sam Scolamiero, and Cooper Smith. For the four weeks of team play they shot a combined score of 23 under par! For the 9-hole Individual Stroke Tournament Paige Greco (49) from Couch won the Girls Red Tee flight, McKinlee Proctor (46) playing for Five Forks won the Junior Tee flight, Joshua Parker (37) playing for Trickum won the Boys Red Tee flight, and Jackson McAleer (38) from Loganville won the Boys Junior Tee flight. Corynn Rodney from McConnell won the Girls Drive, Chip and Putt end-of-season competition, and Isaiah Gee from Dacula won the boys competition. “We had a great fall season with 82 players representing teams from Bay Creek, Couch, Crews, Dacula, Five Forks, Loganville, McConnell and Trickum Middle Schools,” said the Middle School Golf League Director Les Witmer. “And again, this fall we played at six different golf courses including Bear Creek Golf Courses in Monroe, Summit Chase Country Club and Country Club of Gwinnett in Snellville, Cedar Lake Golf Course in Loganville, Collins Hill Golf Course in Lawrenceville, and Trophy Club of Apalachee in Dacula. According to Witmer the Most Improved Golfer Awards for the fall season were given to Carter Dillard for Bay Creek; Jackson Babcock, Lena Tata, and George May for Couch; Asa Grandy for Crews; Cole Belbey for Dacula; Eric Ervin and Noah Dixon for Five Forks; Graham Dawkins and Continued on page 18

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Recycling first with newspapers during elementary school paper drives made sense as our family was also in the newspaper business, and public pressure was growing on publishers to use recycled stock. By college, I had added collecting empty aluminum cans to my recycling habits. I was a broke college kid, and at its peak recycling centers were paying around 33 cents a pound.  Those realities have shifted substantially though, and in just the past two years, markets for the bulk of recyclable commodities have all but collapsed. You may still be sorting, separating and placing recyclables in your blue bin at home, but there is a more than decent chance that a healthy portion of that once recyclable waste stream is now heading straight to a landfill. More than a generation ago, China was a fast-developing country in need of multiple types of raw materials which it was unable to manufacture in sufficient supply on its own. Already a massive net exporter, the Chinese government and shippers realized that they had thousands of empty cargo containers in the United States and elsewhere in the western world about to be shipped back to China. Buying discarded metals, plastics, paper, and glass for a pittance and filling those empty containers that had to be shipped back anyway was an inexpensive solution to producing more raw materials.  As late as 2017, the US exported roughly 14.5 million metric tons of recycled waste to China.  China announced in 2017 that beginning in 2018 it would no longer accept many kinds of waste. During the phase-down in 2018, China still accepted 9.4 million metric tons, and only a fraction of that tonnage so far in 2019. Because of the collapse of the recycled commodity markets, mixed paper, which was going for $67.00 a metric ton as late as August of 2017, is now in negative numbers with the city, county, or state government seeking to dispose of the paper at -$2.00 a metric ton.  And while many municipalities here and elsewhere consider banning single use plastics altogether, consider your community without pooper scoop baggies, your local newspaper sitContinued on page 19

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Sports Talk Continued from page 16 Cooper Smith for Loganville; Philip Robinson and Sawyer Bronkema for McConnell; and Aiden Feeley and Beckett Lynch for Trickum. The Middle School Golf League is organized through the South Gwinnett Athletic Association and plays mainly on Sunday afternoons during both fall and spring seasons. “We began our season again with a clinic for all, an extra clinic for new players to golf for the league in preparation for their team best ball play, and a practice round to get everyone organized,” said Witmer. “Then four weeks of team best ball play, and then we introduced them to stroke play where everyone got to play their own ball for an individual score; then the more experienced juniors participated in a 9-hole tournament. Our season culminated with a Drive, Chip and Putt competition, and a pizza party and awards presentation.” The 2020 Spring Season for the Middle School Golf League will begin in March with play through the end of the school year in May. More info at https://www.middleschoolgolfleague.com/

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November Smiles is Serving Others

Realities of Recycling Continued from page 16 ting on the lawn soaked in a light rain without a bag delivery, or having to remember to carry bags/boxes on every shopping trip. And a good bit of single use plastics came about for product safety reasons: the interior lid/sealant on most all food products and the plastic wrap around virtually every over-the counter drug (a result of the Tylenol tampering scare of the 1980s). These plastics can be removed, but are we willing to sacrifice those protections and assurances of some degree of product safety? Illegal dumping also remains a problem, particularly and often in lower income communities. The ingenuity of American industry should be incentivized here to do more. Most tire rubber can be granulized into rubber and used for playground and other recreational surfaces, or perhaps as a roadway substrate. Coal ash, a by-product of burning coal for energy, is toxic and filled with heavy metals like mercury, but could potentially be used as a low cost road patching material, as well as mixed with traditional asphalt (a petroleum based product); and if a rubber liner (from tires) was under that same road bed, there would be much less opportunity for leaching into any nearby underground aquifer. The Chinese still incinerate our old unusable trash as a fuel source, but there are plenty of air quality concerns with that approach. As it continues to reduce its waste product footprint, the Coca-Cola Company developed a partnership a couple of decades ago, to turn its waste plastic bottles into carpet fiber.  More carpet is now produced with polyesters and similar recycled plastic fibers than wool. However, only about 9 percent of all plastics are currently being recycled. Nearly eight million metric tons of plastic waste are seeping and creeping into the world’s oceans every year. Depending on where your fish and shellfish are caught, you are probably now occasionally eating some micro-bits of that plastic waste. Not exactly an appetizing thought, but choking on our own waste never is. We can’t look the other way anymore. With China out of the mix, our trash is here to stay, so let’s figure out more ways to again turn that trash back into treasure. Crane is the senior political analyst with WSB Radio and TV and owns the full-service communications consulting firm, CSI Crane. More information at www.CSICrane.com

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By Kristen Eleveld In the Novembers of 2016 and 2017, Patrick and Matthew Klug, along with their sister Alicia, dealt with two consecutive losses as both of their parents passed away after fighting against serious long term illnesses. In a matter of months, their lives were changed forever. They didn’t know then that they would go on to change the lives of people all around them. The siblings found support in their community – especially Matt, who played baseball for Brookwood High School at the time. The school and the surrounding community rallied to offer the Klugs support as they began to navigate a new stage of their lives. It was not long after that Patrick and Matt became inspired to do for others what the Brookwood community had done for them. “We were watching the Little League World Series on ESPN, and they were featuring a boy from Massachusetts who had recently lost his dad,” Patrick recalled. “Both of us knew how he felt, and we wanted to help.” The Klugs reached out to the family, who had two young sons, to offer support and to tell them they weren’t alone. Patrick and Matt had an idea to send a gift to bring a smile to the boys’ faces, and sent Yankees gear, custom engraved bats with quotes about their father, autographed bats straight from the boys’ favorite players on the Yankees, Yankees playoff game tickets, and a letter to explain why the brothers wanted to help. It was October of 2018, two weeks before the one year anniversary of the passing of their father. This is when November Smiles went from a dream to a reality. The Klug brothers kept in touch with this family and their relationship grew very deep, despite never having met each other. But over the first weekend of June 2019, the Klugs flew to Massachusetts to surprise the family whom they’d grown to love. “We know what it’s like to go through the pain of losing a parent,” said Matt. “When we see local kids going through it, we feel like we should help them out. We went through this, too, and you are not alone.” Continued on page 22

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G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds Book Exchange By Traci Sanders Gwinnett Coalition of Health & Human Services has partnered with the Hudgens Center for Art & Learning in the Gwinnett Reading Exchange & Art Transforms (G.R.E.A.T.) Little Minds book exchange program. Participating pieces will be painted, adorned, and magically transformed into works of art by local artists. Gwinnett Coalition Executive Director Ellen Gerstein commented, “It is undeniable that artists will have long lasting community impact on transforming these book exchanges into inspiring works of art.” G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds is a campaign that brings more awareness to public art and inspires the love of reading in young children by providing free access to early learning children’s books and by encouraging appreciation for public art in Gwinnett County. The vision for G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds is to have 200 free book exchanges that will be sponsored by local businesses and individuals. Research has proven that the most effective way to improve reading achievement in young children is to increase access to books, and this program is sure to accomplish that goal. Hudgens Center Executive Director Ife Williams said, “As an artist, administrator, and parent, I believe artwork and illustrations play such a critical role in capturing young children’s interest in books. I am excited to have the Hudgens Center for Art & Learning involved in the launch of the G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds Call for Artists because this is an unparalleled opportunity for Georgia artists to bring artwork beyond the pages of books which will in turn encourage children to explore what is inside.” The Hudgens Center will host a G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds exhibition in February where the public will be invited to view the book exchanges. The book exchanges will begin in March and will take place in various locations throughout Gwinnett county where books are needed most. The process will operate on the honor system, and anyone is welcome to participate. The coordinators are asking for a clean exchange – one book replacing another – to ensure an ample supply of books. An assortment of 30 to 50 multi-language books, appropriate for children ages 0-8, will be distributed throughout the community, as well as bookmarks and educational literature regarding the importance of early education. This book exchange promises to be just one more way our great community will come together for the entertainment, education, and betterment of its citizens, especially our youth. More information at GREATLittleMinds@gwinnettcoalition.org

Cheap Date Gwinnett Continued from page 10 Quest for a comic book, and then make a decision as to whether or not we would have coffee or a Slow Pour – because, for the price of a locally brewed craft beer, a whole night of “yard games” was offered as a bonus! Our kids were just as creative. Ask your girl to go fishing at one of our local parks and she just might think you are the best ever – if you promise to handle the bait! Finding time to just wander the trails at one of our local parks has also been one of our favorites. Plus, walking around will give you the excuse to spend your dollars on ice cream. How much more old-fashioned can you get? Well, maybe just a little bit more. Our libraries are up-to-” date” with their offerings as well. Besides having passes to museums, parks, and the zoo for FREE (get ‘em fast), the library has become a place to lounge with a magazine, play a game of chess, or attend a book signing by one of several authors who appeal to audiences young and “mature.” With work schedules being what they are, an unconventional date might be in order. How about the Snellville Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning? Imagine the colors of the fruits and vegetables and the smell of fresh-baked breads and pastries. And the coffee is a MUST. It is old-fashioned fun at its finest. They also offer Food Truck Events and a whole host of other free offerings. Sugar Hill offers “The Sweet Life” with concerts at The Bowl, a splash park nestled in a community plaza offering a light and water show. Grab a bite to eat and sit at one of their picnic tables while you watch and mingle with the neighbors. Buford’s Community Theater is a great place to snag reasonable tickets to see stage performances or just get lost in the history of the city starting with the free Buford Museum. For a bit of nostalgia and history, take a stroll around Norcross. Pretend you are Judy Garland and her leading man in the Good ‘Ole Summertime or Meet Me in St. Louis while you wander past the grand historic homes. It’s free, it’s nostalgic, and it’s fun. With Gwinnett’s growth enormous opportunities abound for free and “cheap” date night (or day) offerings. Everyone from kids to adults can find something to occupy a few hours. One last tip: appetizers. Dinner out doesn’t have to be too expensive. Sharing a couple of appetizers from any one of the fine dining establishments gives you a taste of what to expect when the budget is more robust. In the meantime, check out all the different city and county websites for events and happenings all around our county. I hope to see you out there and enjoy your company!

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Estate Planning and the Differently-Abled Child – An Interview with DJ Jeyaram Senior Care with Love By K. Coats Starting a family and watching your kids grow up can be one of life’s biggest milestones. New parents look forward to discovering who and what their child will become and experiencing major events in their lives: prom, graduation, college, career, wedding… the list goes on. But what if you knew your child, not by choice, would not be able to participate in these timehonored milestones? Parents of children with special needs deal with the all too harsh reality that their child won’t be able to participate in the conventional way. They must prepare for a different lifestyle and expectations for their children. And while most parents traditionally plan for their children to grow up and be independent, successful adults, these parents must plan beyond the normal range of expectations. Depending on the severity of the child’s needs, parents must plan on how to support their child beyond their own lifetime. Enter DJ Jeyaram – a practitioner of healthcare corporate and regulatory law and Special Needs Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Medicaid Benefits areas.  Growing up in southern New Jersey, Jeyaram received his degree from Boston University and went on to attend Emory University School of Law. He has been practicing healthcare law for the past twenty-two years and has specialized in the Special Needs concentration for the last decade. He is also currently a Magistrate Judge for Gwinnett County.  While Jeyaram practiced healthcare law long before he and his lovely wife, Cassandra, began a family, it was the birth of their son, Kai, that truly cemented their need to help families of differently-abled children. Jeyaram explains, “My inspiration is my son Kai. Kai is ten years old and was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Williams Syndrome and a few years later with Autism.” It was then that Jeyaram saw his profession through the eyes of a parent instead of a barrister. “Many children with disabilities need Medicaid in order to receive medical and therapeutic services necessary to help them with their daily lives and overall health,” he says. “Thankfully my unique career path provided me with significant experience in the Medicaid Waiver programs even before my son was born. However, after Kai’s birth, I experienced the Waiver programs from a parent’s perspective and realized how complicated the appeals process is and how desperate families were for good legal help.” And it was that personal insight which led him to reach out to the community through free presentations. “We offer between six to ten free legal seminars a year to differently-abled families and nonprofits.” In these sessions, Jeyaram helps families learn what options are available to ensure the wellness and security of the differently-abled child and give families a peace of mind concerning their child’s future. And should families need Jeyaram’s assistance with the Medicaid benefits appeals “We serve these clients on a sliding scale because we know these kids desperately need this funding in order to have a quality life and receive the medical care and services they need.” Jeyaram explains, “The range of challenges faced by our clients is extremely broad. We will see clients who are very high functioning but may have some social challenges all the way to clients that are completely incapacitated, wheel-chair bound and non-verbal. We mostly work with the parents on behalf of their differently-abled child.” He further clarifies, “My clients have all sorts of diagnoses. Autism is very prevalent as is Down syndrome, Phelan McDermid syndrome, SATB2 Associated Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and various syndromes that are so rare that they have not been named yet.” With all of these considerations, the work Jeyaram does helps give families control over at least some aspects of their child’s wellbeing. For him, empowering those families is the best part of his service. He feels most satisfied “when I see a parent connect all the dots of a Special Needs Estate Plan and tell me ‘thank you for explaining that to us. Now I know what we have to do.’” But it goes even further. “It’s also knowing that I’ve helped a family put into place a plan for their child that will ensure their well-being even after the parents have passed. As a parent of a special needs child, I worry just like they do about what will happen when I’m gone. So when we put into place a Special Needs Estate Plan, I love knowing that their child will be cared for in the best way possible.” Our Town Gwinnett would like to extend a special thanks to Mr. and Dr. Jeyaram and to their son, Kai, and their daughter, Emmy Rose, for the work they do for our community and the services they provide for our families.   More information at https://jeylaw.com.

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Teacher Feature: Coach Carrie Rajek Has Made Lifelong Changes in Gwinnett Schools

Crane’s Corner: More Than a Chip Off the Old Block

By Kristen Eleveld

It is true in large and small towns, but particularly true in the south: strong, positive servant leadership, more than any other trait, can make or break most any community. Metro Atlanta and many other regions in our state have been blessed with visionary leaders, and often multiple generations of the same leading families carrying a disproportionate share of that load. As our state has grown and matured, that leadership team, thankfully, has also become more diverse, including women, minorities, and a variety of cultural backgrounds in those groups which attempt to build consensus and move communities forward. Separating the servant leaders and community builders from the self-aggrandizers is also simple. The Davidson family in DeKalb County was long known for granite. Literally, they owned the parcel and acreage around Arabia Mountain, Stone Mountain’s smaller, twin sibling, as well as granite quarries that dotted the east side of metro Atlanta, atop a massive granite vein which includes Stone Mountain (long owned by the Venable family). In 1983, Charles “Chip” Davidson III, returned to his hometown of Atlanta from Houston, Texas to open the southeast real estate development offices of Hines. Hines has long been a name dotting north metro construction sites and developments; but it was Davidson’s ground-breaking work on The Ravinia complex – later known as Perimeter Center – that changed that area of modern day Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and Brookhaven from literally apple orchards and cow pastures, into what is now one of the nation’s most robust edge cities, containing the metro area’s second largest cluster of Fortune 500 corporate and North American headquarters. Davidson brought what some may now consider the “evils” of density to the suburbs of north metro Atlanta – parking decks, mid and high rises, destination hotels, and dining – to a market long accustomed to heading to downtown, later Midtown or Buckhead, for such options and fare. Hines is still a market leader, and The Ravinia is being again refreshed even as this column is being written. But you can tie back the Dunwoody MARTA station, the relocation of Pill Hill hospitals from downtown, and the massive expansion of the Perimeter Center sub-office market to decisions and bets made by leaders like Liane Levetan, Bob Voyles, Chip Davidson, and others during metro Atlanta’s turbulent 1980s and explosive 1990s.  The Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently honored Davidson for a career and lifetime of vision and instrumental developments, first at Hines and later as the CEO and co-founder of his own firm, the Brockdale Group. “At first I thought (winning this award) was a set-up. Then, when it sunk in and I looked at the previous list of winners, I was blown away,” Davidson said to The Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior winners of this lifetime achievement recognition by the ULI include Tom Cousins, John Portman, Egbert Perry, and Lawrence and Mary Gellerstedt. Those are some tough acts to follow, also proving that Chip and his career are much more than merely a blip or a chip off of the old Davidson granite block. Like most leading families, Davidson’s work does not end with his own enterprises. He sits on the board of trustees of the Shepherd Spinal Center as well as the Georgia Conservancy. A man of strong faith, Davidson is also an honorary board member of Trinity House Community Ministries. Most people generally know who the ground-movers are in their community, and those who all too frequently further divide their limited time, schedule, and resources to make their town a better place to live, invest and raise a family. When the opportunity arises, just say thank you or offer those folks a nice pat on the back. Remember, it was often their capital, and perhaps family resources, that was at risk, with no guarantees of return and a requisite share of near misses. Mr. Davidson, to you and your family, and the many leading families like yours across Georgia, many thanks! Crane is the senior political analyst with WSB Radio and TV and owns the full-service communications consulting firm, CSI Crane. More information at www.CSICrane.com

Coach Carrie Rajek knew from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher. Her father, a coach and teacher himself, inspired her to follow in his footsteps and become an amazing educator for kids all over Gwinnett. Twenty-two years later, her hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Rajek was named in the Top 25 Finalists for the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year, and it isn’t hard to see why. Rajek goes above and beyond to give each of her students an education that lasts a lifetime. Like any great teacher, you won’t find Rajek sitting still for long. Instead, when she isn’t teaching P.E. or Health at Harbins Elementary School, she is over at Dacula High School, heading up the swim and dive teams, along with the girls golf team. “I love seeing my students having fun while playing sports, and learning that fitness is lifelong,” said Rajek. “I also want to make sure that my students and athletes have a positive experience learning in my class and competing in their sport.” Win or lose, Rajek is always sure to instill important, lifelong lessons that her students and team members can take with them long after they have graduated high school. She focuses on encouraging students to love learning, while also having the confidence to try a new sport and see what they are capable of. “I want students to believe in themselves so that they can pursue their dreams and goals,” Rajek said. This coach doesn’t just inspire these ideals in her high schoolers – she begins as soon as they are in her P.E. or Health class at Harbins Elementary. She loves letting her young students know that if they pursue their athletic goals, she may just see them again as their coach in high school. It is a testament to Rajek that this alone is an inspirational point for many of her students. Even those who don’t participate in one of Rajek’s teams still seek her out to tell her what a difference her teaching made for them. “Some students come back and tell me they made the volleyball team because when they were in elementary school, I gave them the knowledge and confidence to try-out,” Rajek said. It’s no wonder that Rajek was named one of the finalists for Teacher of the Year. She has even used this experience to create a better learning environment for everyone she teaches. “I was humbled and honored to be named in the Top 25,” she said. “There are a lot of fabulous teachers in Gwinnett. Listening and learning from other teachers in the Top 25 about all the great things they are doing in their classrooms has given me new perspectives and ideas that I can apply in my gym.” When you have it, you have it – and it is clear that Rajek has exactly what a teacher needs to be one of the best. Congratulations to Coach Rajek on being honored for her amazing work!

November Smiles Continued from page 19 November Smiles has already helped nearly a dozen kids or families who are dealing with the loss of a parent. For a child or teenager to be considered, all someone has to do is nominate them on the November Smiles website (novembersmiles.org). They also have the chance to list out the nominee’s hobbies, interests, dreams, and anything else that will help the Klug brothers get to know them better. “One of our nominees loved soccer, and we were able to take him to an Atlanta United game,” Patrick said. “Another time, we connected with a kid who really wanted to be a marine biologist, so Matt spent the day with him at the Georgia Aquarium.” Once November Smiles receives the nomination, the team gets to work planning a special activity or event for the person who was nominated. And from there, it’s all about the surprise. The team at November Smiles coordinates with the child’s guardian or other family members to create a surprise they will never forget – and maybe even one that will change their life. The ultimate dream for Patrick and Matt is to become a resource for families who are dealing with a loss and who need support and guidance from someone who understands how they feel. That’s why they urge people to spread the word about November Smiles, and to let them know if there is a child or teenager in the community who has lost a parent and could benefit from their organization. You can also donate to the organization and follow their social media platforms from the website. More than anything, Patrick and Matt hope that what they are doing motivates others to help out when they see someone in need, regardless of their situation. “If nothing else comes from this, we want to inspire people to do something for someone else,” Patrick said. “You never know what someone is going through. Make it your goal to make one person smile every day.” “We want to help as many people as we can,” added Matt. “We are here, and we are ready to help.” More information at novembersmiles.org.

PAGE 22

By Bill Crane

Coming Home Continued from page 9 love with a little Charleston-style neighborhood within walking distance to great restaurants and shopping, only a few miles from the top-rated physicians and facilities at the Gwinnett Medical Center. Our fabulous agent and now, dear friend, Laurie Anderson, worked hard to make our dream come true. She made moving across the country a breeze. This will be my second Christmas in the South, and I have to say, moving here has been more of a homecoming than a venture into the unknown. The Southern hospitality reminds me of my grandparents. Neighbors wave and stop for a chat. Cashiers remember your name. For someone who grew up in the hot, dry desert, the ocean of green and turning leaves in this region is a sensory phenomenon. The fresh air, cleansing rain, and gentle Southern ways, is a soothing reality. Living here has healed a part of me that I hadn’t realized was broken. Gwinnett County is an undiscovered paradise, with a gentle, restorative pulse. Drink it in this holiday season and be ever so thankful to call this place home. Rhonda Frankhouser is an award-winning author. More information at www.rhondafrankhouserbooks.com.

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PAGE 23


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Profile for Our Town Gwinnett Magazine

DECEMBER 2019: (GREEN) Our Town Gwinnett/Walton Monthly Magazine  

Welcome to the DEC 2019 (GREEN) edition of Our Town Monthly Magazine for Gwinnett/Walton areas. #community #family #positive

DECEMBER 2019: (GREEN) Our Town Gwinnett/Walton Monthly Magazine  

Welcome to the DEC 2019 (GREEN) edition of Our Town Monthly Magazine for Gwinnett/Walton areas. #community #family #positive