PAGE One Magazine Aug.-Sept. 2016

Page 1

August/September 2016

2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year Casey M. Bethel, Douglas County


Education Leaders Warn of Consequences of Opportunity School District

s r e h c a e T r o f s e e r aster’s g m y e t li a u D q s ’ r de with a e a r t g p s u p a e t M Online. ras o f & y a f t li n a a u l t q A d sroom an in Metro s y la t i c s r r u e o v y i Revitalize higan Un c i M l a r t n m Ce ion and degree fro r certificat ments fo e ir u q e r e rgia’s stat Meet Geo conduct. f o s d r a d stan

of: ur choice Literacy K-12 o y in e e r d eg r of Arts d tion  Reading an e t s a M U c CM and Instru Earn your urriculum tion/C gy l Technolo a n io t a c u  Ed a  Educ

cational u d E r o n ctio and Instru 2. m lu u ic r r u C iteracy K-1 L h it d n w a -5 g S in ad T-4 to an -5 with Re T a o t Go from a 4 T a y. Go from Technolog

! e n i l n O d an b l a K e D , tro e M a t n a l At For complete information on GaPSC certification and CMU programs,

Call 770-933-7660 or toll-free 877-268-4636 today! · Central Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. CMU is an AA/EO institution (see 44962 4/16

Educate. Innovate. Lead. GRADUATE DEGREE PROGRAMS All programs are accredited by NCATE and meet PSC standards for certification. Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) Middle Grades Education Grades 4-8 P-12 Education with Teaching Field in Spanish Secondary Education Special Education Grades P-12 Master of Education (M.Ed.) Counselor Education Curriculum & Instruction Accomplished Teaching Early Childhood Education Educational Leadership Higher Education Administration Instructional Technology Middle Grades Reading Education Secondary Education Special Education Online program

Education Specialist (Ed.S.) Early Childhood Education Educational Leadership Instructional Technology Middle Grades Education School Psychology Secondary Education Special Education Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Curriculum Studies Educational Leadership Endorsement Programs English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Online Teaching and Learning Reading Teacher Leadership Graduate Certificate Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

The COLLEGE OF EDUCATION at Georgia Southern University offers a wide range of high-quality, innovative master’s degrees, education specialist degrees, doctoral degrees and endorsement programs for professionals. Online programs in the College of Education have been ranked in the top tier of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online Graduate Education Programs.”

Maximize Your Earning Potential

AIU’s 12-month online M.Ed. programs are designed for certified elementary and secondary school teachers, are TEAC-accredited and affordably priced at $15,000*.

APPLY TODAY 855-943-2888

231 N. Martingale Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60173 6600 Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd, 500 Embassy Row, Atlanta, GA 30328 *AIU’s elementary and secondary education online M.Ed programs are post-licensure programs and thus require a current teaching licensure upon matriculation. The $15,000 tuition excludes fees and assumes a student will be continuously enrolled, and satisfactorily completes all program requirements for graduation. The tuition cost will increase due to academic failure of courses and or withdrawals and drops. AIU reserves the right to make changes at any time to the amount of tuition and fees, such as a technology and graduation fee as set forth in the Enrollment Agreement and school Catalog. The tuition costs at other institutions may vary based on tuition and fee policies, delivery modality, online, ground, or hybrids and the student’s state of residence. AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Financial aid is available for those who qualify. Find employment rates, financial obligations and other disclosures at AIU-16-05040143 1069144


August/September 2016

Vol. 38 No. 1



08  Flawed Foundation

•  OSD Relies on Standardized Tests, Outdated CCRPI and Ignores Poverty Factors •  Educational Leaders Warn of Consequences of Opportunity School District •  Wording of the School Takeover Referendum Is ‘Misleading’ •  Teacher Advisory Committee Is Reviewing ERC Recommendations

14  Georgia’s Educators of the Year •  Casey M. Bethel, a science teacher and a community mentor, is Georgia’s 2017 Teacher of the Year •  Teacher of the Year Finalists •  Principal of the Year and Superintendent of the Year



6  From the President Tap Your Inner Giant: Mentor a New Teacher

Growing Georgia’s Teachers 20  8 Colleges to Host Future Georgia Educators Conferences in 2016-17

7  From the Executive Director Advice to New Teachers A Good Refresher Course for All

Professional Learning 24  South Georgia Educators Partner Up to Focus on Student Engagement News and Information 5  Meet Your 2016-17 PAGE President 13  PAGE Legislative Intern Schooled in Public Administration and Policy

Legal 28  The Four Tiers of Educator Certification 29  State Liability Insurance and Why PAGE Membership Is More Important Than Ever Achievements 30  J. Alvin Wilbanks and Gwinnett County Public Schools: A PAGE Turning Event Honorees Membership 31  PAGE Membership and College Services Representatives

26  Educators Flock to Jekyll Island for Summer GAEL


PAGE One Official Publication of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Providing professional learning for educators to enhance professional competence, confidence and leadership skills, leading to higher academic achievement for students, while providing the best in membership, legal services and legislative support. August/September 2016





Editor Craig Harper

President Larry Lebovitz

Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta

Associate Editor Meg Thornton

Publisher John Hanna

Production Coordinator Megan Willis

Contributing Editor Lynn Varner

Editor Lindsay Penticuff

Advertising/Sales Sherry Gasaway 770-650-1102, ext.145

Associate Editor Megan Thornton


y o U r g N i r B

D W O r C eT tO iTs


giVE yOUr TeaM THe HoMe FieLD ADVaNTAgE The College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience is 95,000 square feet of awesome and the perfect place to educate and motivate your students. They will participate in fun and interactive football-themed activities and have so much fun they won’t even realize they are learning. Combine the live Hall experience with our FREE T.E.A.M.S.TM Curriculum for a comprehensive lesson plan focused on Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Science.

BOOk yOUr grOUP tODay Telephone: 404.880.4841

fOLLOw Us @cfbhall

Meet Your 2016-17 PAGE President Denty: An Innovative and Accomplished Educator


enowned Georgia educator Amy Denty is the 2016-17 president of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. A 25-year educator and the curriculum director for Wayne County Schools, Denty was Georgia’s 2000 Teacher of the Year. She received the 1999 President’s Award for Excellence in Science Teaching in Georgia and, that same year, the Milken Family Foundation awarded her $25,000 as a National Educator Award recipient. In 1994, the Albany native was South Carolina’s Elementary Science Teacher of the Year. For many years, Denty taught science at Arthur Williams Middle School in Jesup. As a teacher in South Carolina, she led her school in the development of an elementary science lab that was adopted as a statewide model. Qualified as a master science specialist by the Curriculum Leadership Institute, Denty is hailed as an enthusiastic and inventive educator. Years ago, for example, a newspaper reporter visited her class on a day that her students were eagerly mummifying a chicken that

they had dried in salt and baking soda. Denty was the first classroom teacher to chair the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which handles teacher credentialing, preparation and ethics. A PAGE board member for five years, Denty joined PAGE in her first year of teaching and rejoined upon returning A 25-year educator from teaching in South Carolina. and the curriculum “I’m following a long line of really accomplished PAGE presidents,” Denty director for told her hometown newspaper The Wayne County Press-Sentinel. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Schools, Denty was education from the University of Georgia’s 2000 Georgia, a master’s degree in science from the University of South Carolina Teacher of the Year. and an educational specialist’s degree from Georgia Southern University. The National Board Certified Teacher has been a middle school science teacher, an elementary school teacher, a gifted teacher, an instructional coach and an assistant principal. n

Amy Denty points out a passage in her PAGE “Community Conversations” notebook to Merwan Massa, Wayne County School’s director of human resources and federal programs. Below, Denty poses a question during PAGE and GAEL Day on Capitol Hill.

Photo by Drew Davis, The Press-Sentinel

August/September 2016


From the President

Tap Your Inner Giant: Mentor a New Teacher Amy Denty

I As a novice teacher, nothing gave me more confidence than to see an experienced, master teacher utilize a strategy that I had shared with her.


have wanted to be a teacher my entire life. I was the kid who made the neighborhood children play school after school. I have never regretted my decision to teach. The cliché is true: Teaching is the hardest job you’ll ever love. Georgia, however, has a serious supply-anddemand problem where teachers are concerned. Enrollment in teacher-preparation programs across the state has declined dramatically, and more than 40 percent of teachers who do enter the pipeline leave the profession within five years. Such excessive turnover robs students of quality instruction. Recent studies, including a Brown University study of about 200,000 students and 3,500 teachers, find that the average teacher’s ability to boost student achievement increases for at least the first decade of his or her career — and likely longer. To help Georgia’s novice teachers establish a strong foundation in classroom leadership and encourage them to remain in the profession, PAGE and other veteran education leaders cite mentorship as a key. I’ve been an educator for 25 years, and I remember my mentors with great fondness. Dianne Gay took her role of supporting me seriously. We planned together daily, and she always checked in on me, whether it was a formal meeting or a casual conversation at lunch. Dianne also helped me navigate the intricate maze of classroom management. She let me watch her in action and she observed my classroom to provide me with feedback. She also taught me how to invite parents into the educational process. Sometimes, she even took care of me by bringing me a home-cooked meal. Dianne was always

available for anything I needed. However, she also made me feel as if I already had so much to offer as an educator. She never hesitated to show me that she also learned from me. As a novice teacher, nothing gave me more confidence than to see an experienced, master teacher utilize a strategy that I had shared with her. Dianne was my only assigned mentor, but I had a cadre of mentors. The entire sixth-grade teaching team at Oconee County Intermediate School provided me with tremendous support. I never felt alone or overwhelmed as a classroom teacher. When I married and moved to South Carolina, I was welcomed by a principal who made supporting teachers a top priority. Alexia Clamp made sure that all of her teachers were part of supportive teams that together learned how to better serve our students. The networks that we established with the nearby university ensured that we were exposed to the latest educational research and that our learning never stopped. Isaac Newton once wrote, “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Because, as an educator, I have stood on the shoulders of giants, I have enjoyed a wonderful career. To ensure that every new classroom teacher in Georgia enjoys positive early experiences, we must welcome them with open arms. As we enter this new school year, I am actively seeking ways to support the new teachers in my district. Whether or not I’m assigned as their official mentor, I can reach out to them and offer authentic support. It is all part of the circle of life. I think that my mentors would be proud to know that I am continuing their example of generosity. Will you join me? n

August/September 2016

From the Executive Director

Advice to New Teachers A Good Refresher for All


everal critical milestones (not the tests!) will affect Georgia educators and school districts this school year. In November, our state will vote on whether to amend the Georgia Constitution to create the Opportunity School District (see pages 8-12). Also this year, a 90-member teacher advisory council (page 13) will make recommendations to the governor, and this winter the General Assembly is expected to act on recommendations of the Education Reform Commission. To add to the drama, there’s a presidential election that could affect all of us in unanticipated ways. Rather than focus on these contentious issues, however, I’d like to provide encouragement to each of you in classrooms across Georgia. In support of many PAGE initiatives, I meet all types of people engaged in education. Consistently, I am impressed with your dedication on behalf of students and your communities — this despite issues that encroach on classroom instructional time and distract from efforts to develop important relationships with students. Increasingly, educators provide the needed structure for so many students. Our engagement with students is critical, as is our encouragement of them to achieve something bigger than they may have dreamed for themselves. Each year, PAGE produces the New Teacher Guide, an excellent resource for rookie teachers, as well as a nice reminder of best practices for those of us with a few years of experience. Reviewing this year’s guide inspired me to suggest the following for all educators as this school year gets underway. MENTOR A NEW TEACHER

Seek out teachers who can benefit from

August/September 2016

your years of experience. Show them how to manage things that can get in the way of excellent teaching so they can concentrate on designing quality instruction. Acknowledge the difficulties we all face, but stay positive about the many rewards, too. A veteran’s assurance and guidance can pay huge dividends in transforming inexperienced teachers into superb career educators. GET TO KNOW YOUR STUDENTS

Strive to know your students beyond their name, where they sit in class and what kind of grades they earn. Seek out those who may need you the most, such as those who struggle with their peers. Discover the potential in students who have the ability, but not the confidence, to push themselves to learn at higher levels. IMPROVE YOUR CRAFT

What do you need to improve your work? Be relentless in finding the resources to build your capacity. Ask your school or district for time or resources to be more effective in meeting student needs. Get creative in meeting those needs. Take to heart the advice of educator and motiva-

Make it a priority to discover the potential in students who have the ability, but not the confidence, to push themselves to learn at higher levels.

Dr. Allene Magill

tional speaker Harry Wong: “The teacher who constantly learns and grows becomes a professional educator.” BE AN ADVOCATE FOR EDUCATION

Learn about issues affecting you and your students, and then use that knowledge to advocate for public education. For the sake of our students, communities and nation, it’s a battle worth fighting. Public education — and you — are responsible for so much of what’s good in our country. Let’s not let special interests destroy us through our silence. Earlier this year, educator calls and emails played a major role in convincing Georgia lawmakers to reduce standardized testing and educator evaluation requirements, but there’s more work to be done on that front. I also hope we will all work together to defeat the Opportunity School District referendum Nov. 8. SHOW APPRECIATION

In addition to voicing our concerns to lawmakers and school board members, we need to acknowledge their public service. They often have a thankless job, and we can all use an encouraging word. TAKE TIME FOR YOU

With school just resuming, this advice might seem out of season. Still, it’s important to nurture ourselves with personal learning or activities that give us respite and keep us going. Make time to do the thing that keeps you charged up and ready to face a new day. You will be more focused and efficient. It’s time well spent. n


SPECIAL REPORT: Opportunity School District

Flawed Foundation:

OSD Relies on Standardized Tests, Outdated CCRPI and Ignores Poverty Factors By Dr. Allene Magill, PAGE Executive Director


n Nov. 8, voters will decide whether the Georgia Constitution should be amended to allow Gov. Nathan Deal to create the Opportunity School District (OSD). This proposed state takeover of struggling, high-poverty schools uses scores from the College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) to justify the power grab. The CCRPI derives its scores primarily from student performance on standardized tests. If you’ve kept abreast of the issue, you know that standardized testing in Georgia has earned low marks for reliability. We also know that low test scores are, more than anything, a direct reflection of poverty in a community. The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) waived the use of this spring’s Georgia Milestones Assessment System for student promotion or retention in third, fifth and eighth grades. Districts were also given the flexibility to

retest students who performed poorly on the tests. Most districts reported they would not take the time to retest. Furthermore, due to the problems with the 2015-16 test administration, scores will not be used to produce a Teacher Effectiveness Measure or Leader Effectiveness Measure score for educator evaluations under the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System or Leader Keys Effectiveness System until at least the 2019-20 school year. This begs the question: If the scores are not reliable enough to determine student promotion and retention decisions or educator evaluations, how can they be reliable enough to wrest control of schools from a community and locally elected school board? Continued on page 10

If the CCRPI scores are not reliable enough to determine student promotions or educator evaluations, how are they reliable enough to wrest control from locally elected school boards?


August/September 2016

Attention Georgia educators and concerned citizens:

No v. 8

Please spread the message to “Vote NO” on amending Georgia’s consitution to allow the state to take over local schools. From now through election day on Nov. 8th, please display this removeable bumper sticker.

Keep GA Schools Local

Vote NO on State Takeover For additional “Vote NO on State Takeover” bumper stickers to give to colleagues, friends and family members throughout Georgia, please email Tell us how many bumper stickers to send you — we’ll happily send anywhere from 1 to 100 — and provide us with your mailing address.

Invite Your Community to Attend a Public Meeting on OSD School Takeover Plan In September and October, PAGE and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute will present information sessions on the following critical education issues facing Georgians: •

The state school takeover amendment (“Opportunity School District”)

The recommendations of the Education Reform Commission

These family-friendly meetings — 6-8 p.m. with dinner provided — will be held in districts throughout Georgia with several schools targeted for state takeover: Atlanta and the counties of Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, DeKalb, Dougherty, Fulton, Muscogee and Richmond. Educators, parents and all interested community members are encouraged to attend. Stay tuned to or social media (Facebook: Professional Association of Georgia Educators; Twitter: @ PAGE_EdNews) for finalized meeting dates and locations. As of press time, the following dates are firm: • South Metro: Tuesday, Sept. 20 • Richmond County: Tuesday, Sept. 27

SPECIAL REPORT: Opportunity School District

Educational Leaders Warn of Consequences of Opportunity School District PAGE Executive Director Dr. Allene Magill is not the only state education leader speaking out about the proposed constitutional amendment to take over local schools — Opportunity School District (OSD). Here’s how others are framing this important issue: “At first glance, Georgia’s proposed Opportunity School District sounds like a great idea. Nevertheless, it could open the door to the privatization of public schools, which will drain scarce funds into hands of for-profit shareholders.” — Ernie Lee, 2016 Georgia Teacher of the Year and a Teacher at Windsor Forest High School in SavannahChatham County

“It is the absolute power and authority the OSD superintendent is given. Local boards of education have absolutely no say. The local community has no say. School board members are elected by the citizens… . They are close to the districts, they know the educators, they know the environment they are teaching children in. … No one will be able to move the needle unless they engage the local community.”

— Valarie Wilson, Executive Director, Georgia School Boards Association (Georgia Trend, December 2015)

“Many of us here in [DeKalb County Schools] believe that standardized tests may not fairly take into account, or accurately measure, the extreme complexity of education and learning in a district like ours, with 135 schools and 102,000 students from 180 nations and with 144 languages. … We’re counting on classroom relationships — and investing heavily in them — to turn around academic metrics. No outside agency, governmental or otherwise, can provide the care, nurturing and emotional support needed to inspire our students to higher achievements. Only student relationships with superb teachers and principals can do that.” — DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green (CrossRoadsNews, March 25)


As evidence mounts, decisions based on standardized test scores are coming under increased scrutiny and a groundswell of parents and students from all walks of life have opted-out of the testing. They cite the negative effects of high-stakes testing on students, their instruction and the educators who teach them. The outcry during the 2016 legislative session came from students, parents, the Georgia Parent Teacher Association, educators and every major education organization in Georgia. Georgia’s legislators heard the concerns loud and clear. In a rare showing of bipartisan cooperation, the General Assembly unanimously passed Senate Bill 364, which significantly reduced the use of standardized tests in educator evaluations and dropped the requirement of using Student Learning Objectives for teachers of non-tested grades and content. Another bill that specifically offered testing opt-out provisions was vetoed by the governor. The call to further diminish the impact of standardized testing will fuel even stronger reaction and advocacy in the 2017 session. The College and Career Readiness Performance Index was written as a waiver to offer relief from the overly burdensome and unrealistic expectations of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Congress agreed in December 2015 to replace NCLB with the Every Student Succeeds Act. It provides extensive relief to the most onerous requirements for testing and educator evaluation tied to testing. CCRPI is based on the old federal law, and Georgia will either adjust to meet the Every Student Succeeds Act or new state guidelines will be written specifically for it. Georgians are being asked to amend the Constitution to allow the state to take over local schools based on an outdated achievement matrix and unreliable test data.

State Could Redirect Local Funds

Even if you believe that standardized tests are reliable indicators of performance and that the CCRPI is the best measure of effectiveness, one still has to question why the state needs yet another method to control local schools. The GaDOE already possesses the power to force change

OSD-eligible schools as a group showed greater student growth from 2012-2014 than their “high achieving” counterparts and greater growth than many other schools in Georgia. on underperforming schools, so if the state already has a lever to effect change in these schools from a constitutionally empowered agency (GaDOE), why does another branch of government seek to override the DOE? And why would a governor want to wrest control from local boards of education and communities? It’s a motivation as old as humankind: power, control and money. The governor’s office through the OSD superintendent will have the power to take over schools, facilities and resources and will have the ability to redirect those resources to for-profit corporations to operate the schools as charters without all of the overhead and capital costs that the local board must fund. A superintendent appointed by the governor and managing up to 100 schools from an office in Atlanta cannot be expected to do any better in turning these schools around than the experienced educators who are on site and working with teams from the district and

The state Department of Education already has the power to force change upon underperforming schools, so why does the governor seek to override that? The answer is money. The governor’s OSD office will have the power to redirect local funds to change the schools into for-profit charters run by corporations. August/September 2016

Low test scores are

school to analyze the issues and a direct reflection of determine strategic interventions. That’s especially true if nothpoverty in a community. ing is done to address community issues that leave children and families without the resources to make education a priority. And, contrary that many label as low achieving reflect to the narrative from OSD proponents, the economic and resource challenges of a close examination of the CCRPI data their communities. Furthermore, there from 2012 to 2014 shows that the OSDis ample evidence that educators in these eligible schools as a group showed greater schools are helping students make signifistudent growth during that three-year cant progress, although they still have far period than their “high achieving” counto go. Rather than punish the educators terparts and greater growth than many doing the hard work in difficult-to-teach of the other schools within the state. circumstances, our state should do all it OSD-eligible schools are almost entirely can to boost these communities. comprised of poor, minority students: The idea of an Opportunity School More than 90 percent participate in the District only makes sense when viewed Free and Reduced Lunch Program and 95 from the “opportunities” it provides those percent are either black or Hispanic. In who will benefit from wresting power contrast, the high-achieving schools have and resources from local communities. fewer than a third of students on Free It certainly makes no sense for children, and Reduced Lunch and about 25 percent communities, educators or local boards of of students are black or Hispanic. As I education. say to audiences across our state, schools Vote “no” on OSD in November. n

Wording of the School Takeover Referendum Is ‘Misleading’


any who oppose the Opportunity School District referendum, which will appear on Georgia ballots Nov. 8, contend that the wording is crafted to persuade voters without knowledge of the consequences to vote “yes.” The ballot will read as follows: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance? “Basically, the state will take over the operations at the county’s expense, but the referendum doesn’t say that,” says Richmond County School Board Member Jack Padgett, who was quoted in Metro Spirit. “The wording is totally incorrect as to what it actually does.” Don McKee, columnist of the Marietta Daily Journal, states that “the language of the proposal on the ballot is blatantly and deliberately misleading, obviously calculated to ensure approval by the voters.” Unless extensive voter education efforts succeed, the ballot language may confuse voters in the following ways: •  Voters with good intentions to August/September 2016

improve educational outcomes for students in struggling schools may respond favorably toward the stated goal to “improve student performance.” •  The words “intervene in chronically” play to parental fear: a child’s peril inside a sickened environment. •  The trend of blaming educators has led to negative impressions of the entire public education system. Thus the words “failing public schools” will affirm perceptions held by some voters. •  The word “Constitution” is interpreted as a symbol of protection and liberty. During the 2016 legislative session, there were several failed attempts to modify the ballot question, including the following language proposed by Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta): Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow an appointee of the governor to take over local school operation, buildings and control of all federal, state and local funding if a school has low scores on standardized tests or for any other reason a future legislature may allow? n

“It’s going to be a battle between local control and state control. … While we frame this as perhaps an opportunity to get some districts on track, many of those districts already are working as hard as they can and as smart as they can. It is yet to be seen whether this is going to be a saving grace.”

— Steve Dollinger, President, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (Georgia Trend magazine, December 2015)

‘Effective school reform is done in collaboration with communities, parents, students, educators and administrators.’

“The OSD superintendent/governor would have extraordinary authority to close schools; fire and replace teachers and principals; reassign students; waive state rules and policies; issue orders to the elected school boards; transfer schools to the State Charter Schools Commission; and on and on. All this could be done with essentially no input from local parents or other community members. So much for local control over education.” — Jane Robbins, Senior Fellow, American Principles Project (The Augusta Chronicle, June 19)

“To take away democratic principles is monumental and allows Georgia communities to be stripped of their identities as having primary responsibility of educating their children. ... In a time where collaboration is the key to systemic change, simply changing governance as the key to reform has a greater result of creating divisions — not unity. … If you vote this in, what you’ve said is that you’re giving the responsibility to educate your children to someone else.” — Clarke County School District Superintendent Philip Lanoue, 2016 National Superintendent of the Year (Athens Banner-Herald, Feb. 21)

Continued on page 12


SPECIAL REPORT: Opportunity School District ‘No one should feel as if they are not at risk. … If the local BOE is not in charge, the entire community has lost its voice.’

“No one should feel as if they are not at risk. … If the local BOE is not in charge, the entire community has lost its voice. The feelings of the [Parent Teacher Organization] won’t matter. We know our children better than anyone.” — Elaina Beeman, Rome City Schools Board of Education (Rome News-Tribune, June 19)

“[The College and Career Ready Performance Index] was not designed for this purpose. … [This] is a direct attack on locally controlled schools. … Local control of schools is about as American as apple pie.” — John Knox, UGA Professor and Athens-Clarke County Board of Education Member (The Red & Black, June 21)

“The architects of the OSD are targeting low-income communities using arbitrary achievement levels to declare their schools and the students in them as failing.” — Kent McGuire, President and CEO, Southern Education Foundation (Annenberg Institute for School Reform)

“Effective school reform is done in collaboration with communities, parents, students, educators and administrators. Top-down strategies have repeatedly not proven successful in sustaining high-quality public education. It is the teachers, school leaders, students and parents who must carry out and push forward any improvement strategies; they must be engaged for the reforms to succeed.”

— Warren Simmons, Executive Director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and a Southern Education Foundation Board Member 12  PAGE ONE

“It’s a glorified way to get the taxpayer’s money.” — Joyce Morley, DeKalb County Schools Board Member (The Atlanta JournalConstitution, April 15)

“The state department has people who are dedicated to helping schools now. … I’m concerned about basing the need for help, for takeover, on a single score, especially when the criteria keeps changing. … You need local people in control who know the issues that are contributing to lower achievement,” he said. “It could be anything from lack of resources in the home, language barriers, teacher turnover, an ineffective principal. A local BOE would know that. All of these are issues that someone in Atlanta can’t know.”

— John Jackson, Superintendent of Floyd County Schools (Rome NewsTribune, June 19)

“We always talk about the problems with state control and federal control. Well, they are taking local control away from us — the citizens. … If the governor has a cure for the problems in education, why doesn’t he give it to us and let us do it ourselves? What magical potion does he have that we don’t have? … It will get to the point that these teachers will feel like they have to move and try to go to a betterperforming school because they may lose their jobs.” — Marion Barnes, Richmond County School Board Vice President (Metro Spirit, July 6)

‘The so-called state Opportunity School District ... deserves overwhelming defeat by the voters of Georgia.’

“How can the state operate any differently than the county does with a superintendent sitting in Atlanta with no direct contact with the schools themselves? … I’ve seen some incredible principals go in who have everything going for them as far as changing the attitude of the students, and they totally strike out. … It is easy to blame the parents, but [when they have] to work two or three jobs, they just don’t have the time to give the children the attention they need.” — Jack Padgett, Richmond County School Board Member (Metro Spirit, July 6)

“We have kids… who move four times in a year because of challenges they face at home. These teachers will work with them and get them to a certain point and, all of a sudden, they move again and start over in another school with a new teacher. … And so many of these schools that could qualify under OSD are in the poorest neighborhoods. You can’t expect these students to learn and achieve if they are hungry or if they are worried about having a place to stay that night.” — Helen Minchew, Richmond County School Board President (Metro Spirit, July 6)

‘It is the absolute power and authority the OSD superintendent is given. Local boards of education have absolutely no say. The local community has no say.’

“Good intentions notwithstanding, the proposed state constitutional amendment to create the so-called state Opportunity School District represents an unwarranted, dangerous power grab that deserves overwhelming defeat by the voters of Georgia.” — Don McKee, Columnist (Marietta Daily Journal, July 7)


August/September 2016

Teacher Advisory Committee Is Reviewing ERC Recommendations Gov. Nathan Deal appointed a 90-person Teacher Advisory Committee this spring to provide feedback on the recommendations of the 2015 Education Reform Commission. Teachers are participating in meetings, conference calls and webinars through early fall. The committee is chaired by Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta), a CTAE teacher at Lowndes High School in Valdosta. Carter also serves on The committee members by region are as follows: North Georgia Region Metro Region Emily Gordon Bethlehem ES Kimberly Yoder Kate DeBoard Cartersville ES Nathalie Williams Kimberlee Fulbright Carnesville ES Intermediate Shenise White April Cummings Glenwood Primary Cassie Quesenberry Kelly Bryson Jasper ES Tamie Clark Lilly McFalls Cherokee Charter Academy Kelly Cadman Dawn Bishop Wauka Mountain ES Alexandria Mitchell Tiffany Thompson Brookwood ES Alicia Darian Kelli Waldrop Social Circle ES Cheryl Nicolls Candie Moore Rabun County Primary School Melissa Jeffers Kim James Rabun County ES Matthew Graham Donna Baker Elbert County MS Ronald Miller Marla Lear World Language Academy Ebonne Craft Maria Norris Rockmart MS Marva Bell Allison Martin Valley Point MS Christy Collier Jeff Wilbanks Fannin County MS Kristen Deuschle Sarah West Gilmer MS Cindy Apley Rose Rebekah Nichols Coosa MS Jina Chapman Melissa Brown Morgan County MS Cheryl Rankins Madison Baker Calhoun MS Tewanna Brown Marc Pederson Paulding County HS Jordan Hartgens Dianne Hardy Mountain Education Charter HS Casey Bethel Tamera Cash Stephens County HS Jennifer Ulbrich Kirk Shook North Oconee HS Lane Tyus Matthew Dahlke Commerce HS Debra Russell Marco Burgueno Murray County HS Eric Poythress Amy Gleaton Dalton HS Mike Reilly Karen Zayance Woodstock HS Lauren Eckman Brian Hall Gordon Central HS Nick Crowder Alice Brewer Brown Habersham County HS Amy Crisp

the House Education Committee. The Governor’s Office said that it sought innovative and reformminded teachers to serve on the committee. It asked for recommendations of teachers from each Regional Education Service Agency (RESA), superintendents, legislators and other educational leaders throughout Georgia.

Mountain View ES Roswell North ES Springdale Park ES Brumby ES Sawyer Road ES Brighten Academy DeKalb Preparatory Academy Mary M. Bethune ES Brooks ES Riverside ES Long Cane MS Long MS Utopian Academy for the Arts Carrollton MS Locust Grove MS Piney Grove MS Couch MS Upson-Lee MS Indian Creek MS Mount Zion MS Jonesboro HS Douglas County HS Drew Charter School Harris County HS Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology Greenville Middle/HS Lanier HS Georgia Academy for the Blind South Forsyth HS Norcross HS

Central/South Georgia Region Bynikini Frazier Hodge ES Stacy Brown Northside ES Meagan Odom Berrien Primary School Jillian Mansfield Martin Luther King Jr. ES Shaw Braddy Ben Hill County Primary School Melia Scott Academy for Classical Education Eric Crouch Double Churches ES Chantel Lewis Putnam County ES Leslie Rowland South Dodge ES Marci McKeever Turner Woods ES Kelly Berry Pine Grove MS Deanna Fanning The STEM Academy Janet White Bacon County MS Jamaal Hunter J. L. Newbern MS H. Scott Cooper Jasper County MS Jessica Price Monroe County MS Suraya Walker Bethune MS Tammy Wood Atkinson County MS Rebecca Nevetral Louisville MS Leslie Elkins Thomas County MS Kathy Thurman Lee County HS Allison Konter Islands HS Teresa Williams Cook HS Dava Coleman Claxton HS Amy Nimmer Pierce County HS Stacey Brown Lakeside HS Merritt Fields Crisp County HS Brian Butler Rutland HS Luther Lucas Bleckley County HS Tara Thompson Marion County MS/HS

PAGE Legislative Intern Schooled in Public Administration and Policy

T Photo by Meg Thornton

he PAGE legislative team is pleased to introduce its 2016 intern, Johnathan Smith, who is pursuing a master’s in public administration and policy at Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Public Policy. An Atlanta native, Smith earned his undergraduate degree in political science and secondary education at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

August/September 2016

At PAGE, Smith is researching state legislation dealing with the Opportunity School District amendment and other bills involving education policy. He is also participating in meetings of the PAGE legislative team in its efforts to improve education for the children in Georgia. Smith plans to pursue a career in education policy with the potential goal of advancing to become a local school superintendent. n


2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year Chose Education Over Medicine


asey M. Bethel, a science teacher at New Manchester High School in Douglasville and a community mentor, is Georgia’s 2017 Teacher of the Year. Douglas County Schools Superintendent Gordon Pritz said he had never seen anyone more deserving than Bethel of being named Georgia Teacher of the Year. “A visit on any day to Mr. Bethel’s classroom is exciting, motivating, inspiring and demonstrates his belief in the teaching profession,” Pritz stated. “He will impact and motivate teachers statewide as he travels during


the next year and shares his expertise with groups of educators.” In addition to teaching, Bethel leads Project Manhood, which seeks to encourage black male students to focus on academics and resist peer pressure. The group consists of 50 New Manchester students who also volunteer at such organizations as the SHARE House in Douglasville.

typical high school chemistry or biology curriculum,” Bethel and Lieberman wrote in The Journal of Chemical Education. Georgia Tech bestowed upon Bethel the Paul A. Duke award for that project. Bethel personifies the power of university-school partnerships to transform teaching and learning of science, technology,

Learning Made Relevant

An accomplished scientist, Bethel has spent the past six summers conducting research in Georgia Tech’s College of Sciences through the Georgia Intern Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT) program. The research seeks cures for diseases such as glaucoma and Alzheimer’s. As a result of that work, Bethel and his lab director, Dr. Raquel L. Lieberman, have designed a high school teaching unit centered on protein structures and their relation to function and disease. “The lessons are designed… to make learning more relevant to daily life, and to help high school students engage in and understand advanced topics beyond the

August/September 2016

engineering and mathematics, according to Lizanne DeStefano, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing. Bethel says that working in the lab has vastly improved his teaching and knowl-

edge, and it enables him to better prepare his students for college-level courses. More than 50 of his former students have gone into STEM majors and careers, and some of them are students at Georgia Tech. Lieberman believes that Bethel is a superb choice for Georgia Teacher of the Year. “He is focused, committed and passionate. He loves to learn and has a no-nonsense attitude. He follows through on commitments and is highly professional,” she says.

Complexity Made Clear

‘Casey is a natural teacher. He is able to explain complex issues to a broad audience. … Students pick up on his infectious enthusiasm and love of learning. … He profoundly inspires all who have the opportunity to interact with him.’

While Bethel was gaining knowledge from his GIFT internship, his lab colleagues were also learning from him. “Casey is a natural teacher,” Lieberman says. “He is able to explain complex issues to a broad audience. … Students pick up on his infectious enthusiasm and love of learning. … He profoundly inspires all who have the opportunity to interact with him.” Lieberman, who recruited Bethel into the GIFT program, adds, “I was particularly impressed with his ability and agil‘Casey is an extraordinary ity in integrating both scientific and pedagogical representative of the K-12 knowledge, how engaging community, inspiring and creative his modules are and how he incorporatGeorgia Tech staff to learn ed different learning media more about high school and methods.” College of Sciences Dean teaching and learning Paul M. Goldbart says, strategies as they work with “Casey is an extraordinary representative of the K-12 him to support his innovative community, inspiring Georgia Tech staff to learn approaches to teaching.’ more about high-school – Georgia Tech College of Sciences teaching and learning strateDean Paul M. Goldbart gies as they work with him

August/September 2016

– Raquel L. Lieberman, Associate Professor, Georgia Tech School of Chemistry and Biochemistry

to support his innovative approaches to teaching.” Bethel earned a bachelor’s degree from Fort Valley State University and a master’s degree in plant genetics from the University of Georgia, where he conducted experimental research at the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies. A standout biology student, Bethel planned to become a surgeon, but he discovered that he enjoyed teaching undergraduates. In hopes of being part of the solution of the country’s need for science education, he made the transition to teaching in 2005 through the Teacher Alternative Preparation Program. “I turned to education, and I never felt so alive,” he wrote in his application for the Teacher of the Year contest. Bethel taught for nine years at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in DeKalb County before moving to New Manchester High four years ago. He teaches Advanced Placement physics, AP biology, biology and physical science. As Georgia’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, Bethel serves as ambassador for Georgia public school teachers, schools and students. n TOTY: A Man on a Mission PAGE ONE  15

A UGA graduate education is closer than you think! ÂŽ

Quality Graduate Education in a Convenient Atlanta Location

The University of Georgia Gwinnett Campus is a vibrant center of advanced learning for non-traditional and working professionals in the greater Atlanta and northeast Georgia

area. Students at UGA Gwinnett have the opportunity to earn an advanced degree from the

University of Georgia, consistently ranked among the top 25 public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

We offer 17 graduate degree programs, as well as certificate programs and professional development opportunities. Our academic programs provide students with low

student-to-faculty ratios and we offer evening and Saturday classes so you can pursue an advanced degree while continuing to work full-time.

Conveniently located off I-85 at the Old Peachtree Road exit. FOR MORE INFORMATION: | (678) 985-6800

Casey Bethel, 2017 Teacher of the Year

‘Teaching Is the Best Way to Make a Difference’ Why did you choose teaching over medicine? I grew up in the Bahamas in a family of teachers. I was told at an early age that because I performed well in science, I had to be a doctor or a scientist. I pursued those careers all the way to graduate school, earning a master’s degree in plant genetics from the University of Georgia. However, the work never brought enough fulfillment. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences as a teaching assistant, instructing undergrads. In 2005, I tried teaching in the DeKalb County School System, at first, as a one-year experiment. I found my calling and never looked back. After a few years of teaching, I hit a wall. I was unsatisfied with my students’ progress. A mentor of mine recommended the GIFT program as a means of broadening my background. I tried it and I saw immediate results. Dr. Lieberman welcomed me and made me a contributing member of her team. Every year since 2011, my wealth of knowledge has grown and my teaching practices have improved.

It is becoming harder to recruit and retain talented teachers, especially in science and math. I am on a recruitment tour to attract some of the brightest science and math students to join the teaching profession. The challenge of educating the next generation of problem-solvers and world leaders is just as important as the race to cure cancer. Teaching is the best way to make a difference. At the same time, I hope to be an example of how collaboration among universities, industries and K-12 educators can radically improve the way we teach and prepare students. My own teaching practices skyrocketed since I formed a partnership with Dr. Lieberman and her research team. Working with them in the summers, I get to see how the concepts I teach in my high school classes are applied to authentic research. Such exposure provides the real-world connections that

“My students and I have a saying, ‘Information is currency.’” help me make science more relevant for my students. We need more of these collaborations in every content area. What is the secret to excellent teaching? The secret is passion. When teachers are passionate about what they do, it translates to their students. Effective teachers are excited to share what they know in a way that draws students in, making them see the value of knowledge. My students and I have a saying, “Information is currency.”


— Contributed by A. Maureen Rouhi, Ph.D., Georgia Tech College of Sciences

What will you do with this award? I hope to bring attention to some of the ways we can solve education’s greatest challenges.

“I am on a recruitment tour to attract some of the brightest science and math students to join the teaching profession. The challenge of educating the next generation of problem-solvers and world leaders is just as important as the race to cure cancer.” August/September 2016

Discover Graduate Programs in Education at Georgia College We’ve Produced Quality Educators for More than 125 Years Our programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Georgia Professional Standards Association (PSC) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

PROGRAMS Master of Arts in Teaching in Middle Grades Education (online) Master of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Education Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education* Master of Education in Educational Leadership (online) Educa Master of Education in Middle Grades Education* Master of Education in Early Childhood Education* Master of Education in Special Education* Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership (online) Master of Education in Reading, Literacy and Language* *Indicates programs are offered partially online or hybrid.

Master of Education in Secondary Education (online) Master of Education in Programs in Educational Technology Instructional Technology (online) Master of Education Programs in Library Media (online) Specialist of Education with emphasis in: Early Childhood Education* Middle Grades Education* Secondary Education (online) Specialist of Education in Special Education*

NON-DEGREE CERTIFICATION: Media Specialist, P-12 (online) Instructional Technology, P-12 (online) English to Speakers of Other Languages Endorsement, P - 12 (online) Reading Endorsement* Reading Specialist, P-12*

Learn more at


Congratulations to the 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists Each year, the 10 finalists for the Georgia Teacher of the Year gather at the Georgia Department of Education to give short speeches about their motivation for teaching, their vision for the profession and about pressing education policy issues. It’s part of the formal judging process, but it’s also a time of inspiration. Here are few words of their wisdom.

“Teaching is reaching the masses, one relationship at a time.” — Marlo Miranda, Forsyth Central High School, Forsyth County Schools (Automotive Technologies)

“We are screaming from the rooftops that education is winning.” — Heather McConnell, Gainesville Middle School, Gainesville City Schools (Special Education)

“The state of Georgia can lead the way in tackling the national STEM deficiency.” — Martha Villanueva Milam, East Coweta High School, Coweta County School System (AP Chemistry, Chemistry)

“The most important thing, the biggest variable in a child’s education, is an effective teacher.” — Dr. Debra Russell, Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, Rockdale County Public Schools (AP Biology, Magnet Biology, Anatomy and Physiology)

“The purpose of a public educator is to shape the citizens of tomorrow.” — Jennifer Taylor, Harris County Carver Middle School, Harris County School System (Science)


“It is my duty to see the strengths where others only see weaknesses.” — Cody Moncrief, Valdosta Middle School, Valdosta City School District (Mathematics)

“Every day, I can be a driving force in protecting my students’ futures.” “Let’s change the stories our students hear.” [On sharing successes in education]

— Sara Jones Wilder, James L. Dewar Elementary School, Lowndes County Schools (Fourth Grade Teacher)

— Heather Cocke, Ebenezer Middle School, Effingham County Schools (English Language Arts)

“What went from defeat to accomplishment happened because we let go of what we were used to.” — Michelle Ashmore, Troup County Comprehensive High School, Troup County School System (AP U.S. Government, Comparative Religion and Economics) August/September 2016

APS Principal a Finalist for 2017 National Principal of the Year


hen Stephanie Johnson was named principal of Atlanta Public Schools Maynard H. Jackson High School in 2012, it ranked 377 among Georgia’s 399 high schools. Today, the graduation rate is 72 percent, up from 57 percent in 2011, and student academic growth is in the 85th percentile in Georgia. Whereas in 2012, the Georgia Department of Education rated the Title 1 school an “F,” it now is rated a “C.” Johnson, who launched an extensive community outreach campaign when she took the reins at Jackson, has added 14 AP courses, instituted an International Baccalaureate program and expanded co-curricular offerings to build student engagement. Furthermore, partnerships with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University and Emory University have helped align the school’s curriculum with college requirements and have resulted in an early college engineering program. In 2015, the school had the highest increase in the state College and Career

Johnson launched an extensive community outreach campaign when she took the reins at Jackson. Ready Performance Index score of all high schools in the district. These achievements and more led the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals to name Johnson Principal of the Year. Now she is one of three finalists for 2017 National Principal of the Year. The Congratulations to GAESP and GAMSP national winner will be named Principals of the Year at an awards ceremony in Georgia Association of Elementary School Washington, D.C., in October. Principals’ 2016 Honoree: Dr. Andrea McGee, Johnson has been Jackson’s Eagle Springs ES (Houston) principal for four years. She Georgia Association of Middle School previously led improvement Principals’ 2016 Honoree: Yvette Foster, efforts at two schools in Riverside MS (Columbia) Clayton County. n

Carroll County’s Cowart is Georgia Superintendent of the Year


arroll County’s Scott Cowart is the Georgia School Superintendents Association’s 2016 Superintendent of the Year. Under Cowart’s leadership, the Carroll County School District has implemented Bring Your Own Technology

The three other finalists for the 2016 Georgia Superintendent of the Year award are Madison County Superintendent Allen McCannon, Oconee County Superintendent Jason Branch and Fayette County Superintendent Joseph Barrow.

August/September 2016

initiatives, decreased the achievement gap, increased the graduation rate and developed strategic partnerships with businesses and organizations. Last year, the GSSA presented Cowart with the Bill Barr Leadership Award for exceptional skills in mentoring colleagues and fellow leaders. In 2006, as superintendent of Monroe County Schools, Cowart earned the Georgia School Superintendents Achievement Award, and, in 2007, he was a finalist for State School Superintendent of the Year. As principal of Central High School in Carroll County from 1994 to 2000, he led the school to recognition as among the top 10 percent of high schools in Georgia. n


Growing Georgia’s Teachers

8 Colleges to Host Future Georgia Educators Conferences in 2016-17


fter a successful year of mentoring high school students wishing to pursue careers in education, Future Georgia Educators is broadening its reach. This school year, the PAGE program will host eight FGE Day conferences for high school students at college campuses across Georgia (see page 23). During these events, education pathway

students will hear from award-winning educators, participate in workshops and meet with representatives from colleges of education. By hosting multiple events across the state in 2015-16, FGE reached more than 1,400 high school students. The college campus visits and interaction with college of education faculty and teacher

candidates encourage future educators in their exploration of teaching as a career. “It’s eye-opening for the students, and it makes them enthusiastic,” says Jill Dyer, an FGE advisor and an education pathway teacher from Fannin County High School. As the state’s largest professional educator organization, PAGE takes a lead role in helping identify, recruit, prepare and


FGE Advisor Team

The FGE Advisor Team, from left: Chiquita Thebaud, Ware County HS; Deana Crews, Carroll County College & Career Academy; Amy Carter, Lowndes HS; and Jill Dyer, Fannin County HS. Building on last year’s success, this year’s schedule of FGE Days is expanding from six to eight events.


August/September 2016

retain top students for teaching careers in Georgia public schools. Of foremost concern is the shrinking enrollment of college students entering the field of education. Enrollment of students in an education major decreased 16 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to data from the University System of Georgia. During that same period, enrollment in Georgia’s public schools increased 4 percent. As a result, many school systems are struggling to fill vacancies. In response to the growing teacher shortage, PAGE reestablished its Future

Georgia Educators program in 2015 (it supplanted Future Educators Association of Georgia). PAGE provides high school FGE chapters with support, professional learning and competitions centered on the development of teaching skills. FGE also supports high school education pathway courses: Early Childhood Education and

Teaching as a Profession. Through FGE, PAGE provides guest speakers on curriculum topics such as ethics and contemporary issues in education. Curriculum support resources are also available on the FGE section of the PAGE website. For more information on FGE Days and competitions, visit n



2016-17 FGE Day Events


1. High school students interested in pursuing education as a career learn about colleges throughout Georgia during FGE Day at Berry College in February. 2. Also at Berry FGE Day, students listen attentively to Georgia 2016 Teacher of the Year Ernie Lee discuss the importance of building strong relationships. 3. Students participate in a science workshop during FGE Day at the University of Georgia. 4. High school students eagerly participate in FGE Day at Clark Atlanta University earlier this year.

August/September 2016


Education leaders choose UNG.

The University of North Georgia has a strong reputation for producing educators who are highly sought after for their skills and experience. UNG’s College of Education offers a wide range of innovative graduate degrees and endorsement programs that help educators advance their education and their careers. Learn more at

Blue Ridge • Cumming • Dahlonega • Gainesville • Oconee •

PAGE cordially invites your Education Pathway students to

Future Georgia Educators Day

We’ve planned a great day for education pathway students … 99 Keynote address from an award-winning educator 99 Engaging workshop sessions on teaching topics & college life 99 College Fair with representatives from colleges across Georgia 99 Mini-session with host college’s admissions staff 99 Education & Ethics Knowledge Bowl Competition

Who’s invited? 99 FGE chapters 99 Students enrolled in an Education Pathway (ECE or TAP) 99 Any high school students interested in exploring a career in education (must be accompanied by a teacher)

Select your preferred date/location 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Start/end times may vary by location.) Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.........................Georgia Southern University.................................Statesboro Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016................................University of North Georgia..................................Dahlonega Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016.............................Middle Georgia State University.......................... Macon Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016.................................Valdosta State University........................................Valdosta Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017................................University of West Georgia.....................................Carrollton Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017..............................Georgia Southwestern State Univ....................... Americus Thursday, March 2, 2017*............................University of Georgia...............................................Athens Wednesday, March 22, 2017.......................Clark Atlanta University..........................................Atlanta *UGA date is tentative; watch website after Sept. 1 for confirmed date.

Register Today at $10 per person; $8 per person for affiliated FGE chapters

Professional Learning

South Georgia Educators Partner Up to Focus on Student Engagement By PAGE Professional Learning


n 2014, Brooks County Schools began partnering with PAGE Professional Learning to form a south Georgia network of school districts focused on engaging work for students. The districts in Berrien, Lowndes and Tift counties, as well as the Coastal Plains RESA, joined Brooks to form the innovative network. All students, but particularly students living in poverty, benefit from highly engaging lessons. A vast majority of the students in the four districts qualify for the Free or Reduced Lunch Program. Sonoraville (Gordon) HS Principal Bruce Potts (l-r) hosts a visit with Brooks County At the beginning of the proHS Principal Dr. Elena Ponder and teachers Stephanie Wellons and Jarod Perry. cess, educators addressed the familiar concerns of discipline and the need to motivate students. The internal assessment then led Because teacher leaders are critical line (teachers in this application) are the to the need to deeply understand their to the success of school transformation, decisions that matter, because they have students as individuals in order to design PAGE Professional Learning is predicated the most interaction with the customers relevant lessons. With high-quality leson a system by which teachers lead up. (students). sons, many challenges of motivation and Famed business consultant Peter Drucker “School transformation requires a new discipline are alleviated. stated that decisions made by the front leadership model in education that dis-

Brooks County HS Principal Dr. Elena Ponder (l-r) with Sonoraville HS Principal Bruce Potts and teacher and instructional supervisor Kim Pruett.


August/September 2016

‘The professional learning facilitated by PAGE empowered Brooks educators to actively assess their schools and reinvent their approach to lesson planning.’ – Owen Clemons, Retired Brooks County Schools Superintendent

cards traditional, top-down decision making in favor of leadership from the classroom up,” states PAGE Executive Director Dr. Allene Magill. “Teachers at every level must understand the need for change. We do not need a few more leaders in public education — we need scores of them throughout every school system.”

Brooks County HS special education teacher Stephanie Wellons (l-r) meets with Brooks County HS science teacher Gabrielle Birbiglia and Sonoraville HS Associate Principal Allen Bowen.

to visiting BCHS to collaborate deeper in this work of the High School Redesign.” Invited to share their positive experiences, the faculties of Sonoraville and Brooks high schools were co-presenters at two RESA conferences and at the annual meeting of the PAGE Foundation

Board of Trustees. Additionally, as a result of their professional learning strides, Brooks County was recognized as a Fab Four School District and, as such, was a presenter at the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders Conference in January.


Empowered by their principal, Dr. Elena Ponder, Brooks County High School educators facilitated professional learning on the school level and initiated teacher-led sessions on lesson design. They also structured time for teachers to collaborate. Owen Clemons, who retired as superintendent of Brooks County Schools in 2015, stated that the learning facilitated by PAGE empowered Brooks educators to actively assess their schools and reinvent their approach to lesson planning. For the past two years, the Brooks County High educators have also enjoyed a partnership with Sonoraville High School in Gordon County. Teacher leaders and administrators at the north Georgia school began an in-depth focus on student engagement a decade ago. According to Sonoraville High Principal Bruce Potts, Brooks County High educators have a sense of ownership and are “ready to fast-track positive changes in their school and community.” Potts concludes that “SHS looks forward August/September 2016


Take class es in Demorest, Athens, or off–cam pus s across Geo ites rgia.

What will a Master’s or EDS degree mean to you?

• Professional Development: Expand your knowledge of teaching to improve your teaching. • Career Advancement: Earn an MA or EDS degree to open new doors for promotion. • Better pay: Teachers with an MA or EDS degree earn $6,000 to $12,000 more per year than teachers with only a bachelor’s degree. That can mean a lifetime increase in earnings and retirement contributions of more than $500,000.

BA • MA • MAT • EDS • EDD Certification-only and non-degree programs also available

800.277.7020 |


Educators Flock to Jekyll Island for


ore than 1,000 educators from across Georgia flocked to Jekyll Island this summer for the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders conference. Among other topics, attendees heard presentations on the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and changes to TKES/LKES and standardized testing. In addition, districts/schools recognized as the “Fab Four” showcased their highly successful programs:


•  Forsyth County Schools showcased its AdvancED STEM certification program. •  Hall County Schools highlighted its Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate academies. •  The Morgan County Charter School System shared the hows and whys of beginning a charter school. •  Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Richards Middle School shed light on how it realized dramatic improvements in school climate and CCRPI scores. n

2 3

5 4

6 7



GAEL 2016 Award Recipients H. M. Fulbright Distinguished Service Award Dr. Jim Puckett John Yates Scholarships Leigh Bramlett Sears Jody Dean


2016 Presidential Citation Lynn Pennington Dr. Vince Richardson Jim Puckett Outstanding Educators GSSA Dr. Gordon Pritz GASSP Dr. Alan Long

GAMSP Dr. Jesse Davis GAESP Dr. Julie Rascher GACIS Dr. Cindy Salloum G-CASE Audrey Walters SSTAGE Lynn Pennington GELFA Dr. Mary Hooper

August/September 2016

Summer GAEL




Photos by Bowen Photography

1. Dr. Donna Bishop-Hill, principal of Cooper ES (Gwinnett) (left) and Pamela Smith, Ed.S., GaDOE director of curriculum and instruction


2 Jody Dean, assistant principal of Northside HS (Houston), was awarded a John Yates Scholarship 3. Dr. Mary Hooper, University of West Georgia associate professor of educational leadership, receives the GELFA Outstanding Educator Award


4. GASPA Executive Director Dr. Vince Richardson earns the GAEL 2016 Presidential Citation 5. Dr. Julie Raschen, Coweta County director of assessment and accountability, receives the GAESP Outstanding Educator Award 6. Debra Malone of Cartersville MS is Georgia’s 2016 National Outstanding Middle Level Assistant Principal


7. Dr. Jim Puckett, winner of the H.M. Fulbright Distinguished Service Award (left), and Dr. Alan Long, principal of Jefferson County HS, winner of the GASSP Outstanding Educator Award 8. GAEL board member and GACIS member Dr. Claire Miller of Oconee County Schools 9. Yvette Foster of Riverside MS (Columbia) is Georgia’s 2016 National Distinguished Middle Level Principal of the Year

August/September 2016

10. Pictured (l-r): Dr. Richard Basemore, principal of Scott ES (Monroe); Cindy Flesher, deputy superintendent of Houston County Schools; GAESP President Dr. Amy Duke of Laurens County Schools; and GAEL Director of School Improvement Hal Beaver 11. 2016-2017 GAEL President Dr. Candace Norton of Forsyth County Schools (l-r) is sworn in by 2015-2016 GAEL President and Middle Georgia RESA GRLS Director Donna Poole and Dr. Robert Heaberlin, senior director of the University of West Georgia, Newnan campus 12. GAMSP members, (l-r), Dr. Jesse Davis of Feagin Mill MS (Houston); Liberty MS (Forsyth) Principal Cheryl Riddle; GAEL Board of Directors President and Islands HS (SavannahChatham) Principal Kerry Coursey; and GAMSP Secretary-Treasurer Lori Joiner, principal of Risley MS (Glynn) 13. (l-r), Retired Dodge Superintendent Dr. Melinda Dennis; Richard Gay, Dodge County MS assistant principal; Dana Brown, South Dodge ES assistant principal; and Russell Bazemore, North Dodge ES assistant principal 14. GAEL President Jimmy Stokes 15. Cheryl Riddle, principal of Liberty MS (Forsyth)



The Four Tiers of Educator Certification Leonard Williams By Leonard Williams, PAGE Staff Attorney


he Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) implemented its Tiered Certification System for Georgia educators beginning in 2014. It consists of four tiers: • Pre-Service • Induction • Professional •  Advanced and Lead Professional PRE-SERVICE CERTIFICATION

The Pre-Service certificate is for aspiring educators who are completing their field experiences or student-teaching in Georgia. One must be admitted to a GaPSC-approved educator preparation program leading to an Induction certificate and pass a criminal background check. The certificate must be requested on behalf of the aspirant by the educator preparation provider. Pre-Service certification brings the holder under the GaPSC’s Code of Ethics for Georgia Educators. The certificate is valid for up to five years and will become invalid when one graduates, transfers to another program (in which case a new certificate may be issued) or withdraws from the program. INDUCTION CERTIFICATION

The Induction certificate is for novice teachers with fewer than three years of teaching experience within the past five years. It’s non-renewable and has a threeyear maximum validity period. Upon the successful completion of those years, the certificate will be converted to a renewable Professional certificate. If an educator receives two or more unsatisfactory annual evaluations during the validity period, the Induction certificate may be granted one additional time upon the request of a Georgia local unit of admin-


istration (LUA) if it can be shown that the performance issue has been remediated. A teacher with an Induction certificate must be employed by a Georgia LUA. An educator who is not employed but meets all other requirements may be issued a Certificate of Eligibility, which may be converted to an Induction certificate upon employment and a request from a Georgia LUA. PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION

Clear Renewable certificates were converted to Professional certificates July 1, 2014. The Professional certification is for teachers with at least three years of experience within the past five years and a Professional-level passing score on the Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators exam. Depending on the teacher’s role, one will either receive a Standard or Performance-Based Professional certificate. The Standard Professional certificate is issued to teachers who have not completed a performance-based program and are not evaluated under Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES). The Performance-Based certificate is issued to teachers who have been evaluated for a minimum of two years under TKES, as well as leaders who have completed a Georgia performance-based certification program. The Professional certificate is valid for five years. It will not be renewed if the educator receives two or more summative evaluations with overall scores of “Ineffective,” “Needs Development” or “Unsatisfactory” within a period of five years unless the educator can show the performance deficiency has been suitably resolved.


The Lead Professional certificate is currently available for teacher leaders with at least five years of experience, three of which must have been earned in Georgia. It also requires a passing score on the GACE Teacher Leadership exam. For this certification, one must have one of the following: •  A Teacher Leadership certificate; •  An advanced degree in a teaching field and a Teacher Leader, Coaching or Teacher Support and Coaching endorsement; •  A certificate in Curriculum and Instruction or Instructional Technology and a Teacher Leader, Coaching or Teacher Support and Coaching endorsement; or •  National Board certification and a Teacher Leader, Coaching or Teacher Support and Coaching endorsement. The Lead Professional certificate has a validity period of up to five years. Like the Professional certificate, the Lead Professional certificate will not be renewed if the educator receives two or more summative evaluations with overall scores of “Ineffective,” “Needs Development” or “Unsatisfactory” within a period of five years unless he or she can show the performance flaw has been suitably remediated. ADVANCED PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION

The GaPSC also developed rules for an Advanced Professional certificate that was dependent on “Exemplary” ratings under TKES. However, due to the Georgia General Assembly’s passage last session of Senate Bill 364, which will impact that requirement, the Advanced Professional certificate is on hold and unavailable at this time. n

August/September 2016

State Liability Insurance and Why PAGE Membership Is More Important Than Ever By Jill Hay, PAGE Director of Legal Services


his year, the Georgia legislature funded for educators excess professional liability insurance that is similar to the general liability coverage that most school districts already provide. The excess insurance is a significant and unnecessary state expense, and the funds could have been allocated to budget areas far more beneficial to educators, such as salaries or health care premiums. Georgia educators received a memorandum this summer from the Department of Administrative Services informing them of this liability coverage. Although this notice may initially have caused confusion among current and prospective PAGE members, most educators quickly recognized the need for continued membership in PAGE for unequalled legal protection and open access to legal consultation. NARROW, LIMITED COVERAGE

First and foremost, the state-funded liability policy only protects you when you are being sued or have been named in a lawsuit. Only then would it provide you with an attorney to represent your interests and only if you lack other liability insurance. Knowing full well that most districts carry liability insurance and that the school board attorney’s primary client is the board and the administration, educators feel more secure having their own PAGE liability coverage. Furthermore, if you are like most PAGE members, you will work your entire career without ever facing a million-dollar liability lawsuit. During the past three years, PAGE attorneys handled, on average, fewer than a dozen cases that would potentially qualify for coverage by this state policy. The last time the state offered educators a liability policy, not a single educator filed a claim. NO COVERAGE FOR EMPLOYMENT MATTERS

Second, the state-funded liability does not cover employment matters. PAGE does. The state policy is not a prepaid legal services plan and it is not “legal insurance.” Therefore, if you are like the thousands of PAGE members who contact our legal August/September 2016

department each year needing legal assistance with an employment matter, you would not be afforded these legal services through the state liability policy. PAGE, however, will provide you legal representation in employment matters, such as termination, suspension, nonrenewal, demotion, harassment, grievances or salary disputes. NO COVERAGE FOR CERTIFICATION MATTERS

Third, the state-funded liability does not cover certification matters. PAGE does. If a complaint is filed against you with the Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) alleging that you committed an ethics violation, the state policy would not provide you coverage for an attorney to represent you. The GaPSC reviews more than 3,000 case referrals in any one year and opens an active investigation on about 1,400 to 1,800 of those cases. Of the open cases, about 12 percent are recommended for revocation and 26 percent are recommended for suspension. The remaining cases are recommended for warning, reprimand, denial of certificate or no probable cause. As you can see, a complaint with the GaPSC is a serious matter with career-changing consequences because an educator’s teaching certificate is at risk. As such, an educator should not respond to any investigation by the GaPSC without the assistance of an attorney. The state-funded liability coverage would not assist you with this. NO COVERAGE FOR CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Fourth, the state-funded liability does not include criminal defense coverage. PAGE will provide you with an attorney if you are charged with criminal wrongdoing arising from your professional duties as an educator, and we will cover the attorney fees up to $10,000 win or lose — meaning whether you are exonerated, found guilty or entered of plea of nolo contendere. Most educators can’t afford to pay the money to retain a criminal attorney, much less pay all the fees and costs associated with a criminal case.


Finally, the state-funded liability does not provide access to attorneys. PAGE does. PAGE has five in-house attorneys who are available to talk to PAGE members at no cost to the member. It is such a comfort to PAGE members to be able to pick up the phone and seek immediate legal advice about a situation regarding a parent or administrator or about other legal concerns arising from employment. PAGE also has a network of about 40 attorneys across the state, all of whom have specific expertise in school law. This is the core of the legal services provided by PAGE to its members. PAGE PROVIDES THE STRONGEST LEGAL PROTECTION

In short, don’t fall for the “benefit” of free educator professional liability offered by our governor and legislature. It is no more than an attempt to diminish our members’ cumulative organizational input during the legislative process. With educator ethics reports on the rise and more employment rights violations and criminal misconduct allegations than PAGE attorneys have ever seen, it is now more important than ever to protect yourself and your career. PAGE members have access to the legal protection policy and guidelines through the membership portal at And, any member who has questions may always call our legal team at 770-216-8555 (metro Atlanta) or 800-334-6861 (outside Atlanta). The department email address is n

If a complaint alleges that you committed an ethics violation, the state policy would not provide you coverage for an attorney. Moreover, it does not include criminal defense coverage. PAGE ONE  29

A PAGE Turning Event

J. Alvin Wilbanks and Gwinnett County Public Schools

A PAGE Turning Event Honorees


winnett County Public Schools CEO and Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks and Gwinnett County Public Schools will be honored at the PAGE Foundation’s 12th annual A PAGE Turning Event in September at the Infinite Energy Forum in Duluth. “We are proud to honor J. Alvin Wilbanks and the faculty and staff of Gwinnett County Public Schools,” says PAGE Foundation President John Varner. “A PAGE Turning Event recognizes leaders from business, philanthropy, government and education for exemplary leadership in public school improvement. Alvin champions the cause of public education and sets a high standard in providing a quality education for all students.” During his 20 years as leader of Gwinnett County Public Schools, Wilbanks has overseen one of the fastest-growing school districts in the country and is credited with providing a high-quality education to a very diverse student population that increasingly comes from non-affluent homes. Two

Under Superintendent Wilbanks’ leadership, Gwinnett County Public Schools earned the reputation as one of America’s most successful urban school districts.


Georgia governors and a U.S. Secretary of Education have called upon Wilbanks to help them craft significant education reform legislation, and under his leadership, Gwinnett County Public Schools earned the reputation as one of America’s most successful urban school districts. In 2005, Wilbanks was named Georgia Superintendent of the Year and was one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year. In that same year, the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce named Wilbanks its 2005 Citizen of the Year. In 2008, he earned the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America. In 2014, the Gwinnett County Board of Education recognized Wilbanks’ service to the education of Gwinnett children by renaming the school system’s main office the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center. Before becoming Gwinnett County Public Schools chief executive in 1996, Wilbanks opened Gwinnett Technical College and served as its first president. He came to Gwinnett County in 1984 from the Georgia Department of Education’s Industrial Development Unit. His career in education began more than 50 years ago at Tucker High School in DeKalb County, where he taught industrial arts. Later, he served in administrative positions with the DeKalb County Schools. Wilbanks has traveled to several countries promoting technical/vocational education and the U.S. and International Skills Olympics. He chairs the board of trustees for the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia and was the first chairman of the Georgia Education Coalition formed in 2006 to give school districts a unified voice on funding and education policy issues. n

August/September 2016

Membership Services Representatives Nancy Ratcliffe District 7 770-773-6004

Jo Breedlove District 3a 770-617-6489

Laurie Provost District 3b 678-860-9907 Melanie Evans District 5 404-323-3990

Diann Branch District 9 770-757-3001

Ha b


ha m



Kathy Arena District 10 706-564-5873

3a Peggy Brown District 11 770-634-6489







10th Linda Woods District 1 912-237-2600

Mc Du







Shirley Wright District 4 (Atlanta City, DeKalb) 770-732-9540



11th Bibb






a Ch

13th mery


1st Evans


BJ Jenkins District 6 888-413-1091


Laura Clements District 13 229-392-4088


Gwen Desselle District 2 229-805-1764

College Services Representatives




Joey Kirkland District 12 912-531-3086


North GeorGia

Diane Ray 678-296-7355

Jo Breedlove 770-617-6489

Dale Gillespie District 8 229-506-2966

South GeorGia

Dale Gillespie 229-506-2966

Mary Ruth Ray 912-237-1899

Have You Transferred Systems? If you transferred from another school system where you were on payroll deduction, you must fill out the short PAGE application (online or paper) to transfer your membership. Otherwise your membership will expire.

Have You Moved or Has Your Contact Information Changed? Update your contact information at

New Teachers Must Upgrade to ‘Professional’ Your PAGE student membership does not cover you for a paid position in a school, even if your student membership has not expired. You must upgrade to “Professional” membership to receive liability coverage and other critical PAGE benefits.

Benefits begin immediately when you join or renew online. Georgia’s Largest Professional Association for Educators. 90,000+ members and growing.

OFFICERS President Amy Denty President-Elect Kelli De Guire Treasurer Lamar Scott Past-President Stephanie Davis Howard Secretary Megan King DIRECTORS District 1 District 8 Oatanisha Dawson Lindsey Martin District 2 District 9 Brecca Pope Miranda Willingham District 3 District 10 Jamilya Mayo Shannon Hammond District 4 District 11 Rochelle Lofstrand Dr. Sandra Owens District 5 District 12 Nick Zomer Donna Graham District 6 District 13 Dr. Susan Mullins Dr. Hayward Cordy District 7 Lance James Ex-Officio Vickie Hammond


The articles published in PAGE One represent the views of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, except where clearly stated. Contact the editor: Craig Harper,; PAGE One, PAGE, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141-2270; 770-216-8555 or 800-334-6861. Contributions/gifts to the PAGE Foundation are deductible as charitable contributions by federal law. Costs for PAGE lobbying on behalf of members are not deductible. PAGE estimates that 7 percent of the nondeductible portion of your 2015-16 dues is allocated to lobbying. PAGE One (ISSN 1523-6188) is mailed to all PAGE members, selected higher education units and other school-related professionals. An annual subscription is included in PAGE membership dues. A subscription for others is $10 annually. Periodicals class nonprofit postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing offices. (USPS 017-347) Postmaster: Send address changes to PAGE One, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141–2270. PAGE One is published five times a year (January, March, May, August and October) by New South Publishing Inc., 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA 30350; 770-650-1102. Copyright ©2016.

August/September 2016

WE MAKE GREAT TEACHERS. YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Mercer University’s Tift College of Education prepares students to serve as teachers and school leaders in the schools of the state of Georgia, the nation and around the world. We believe that the most effective teachers, educational leaders and school counselors are transforming educators—men and women who grow and change throughout their careers while sparking transformation within their students. Great teachers change lives.

Learn more about Mercer University’s graduate degree and advanced certification programs offered in Metro Atlanta, Macon and online.