In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

January 4, 2018

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As part of a larger commitment to establishing a culture of candor and transparency, our board of trustees will host GWA’s first State of the School address in the coming weeks. You may remember that this was first scheduled to follow last year’s summer meeting of the board. However, it was quickly recognized that summer is not the best time to communicate important issues surrounding the health and direction of the school. Accordingly, the board moved its annual retreat to January, and committed to hosting the State of the School shortly thereafter.

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Some of you may not be entirely clear on the role of the board of trustees or the headmaster in independent school governance. Let me assure you that you are not alone. As you might expect, independent school boards and headmasters typically work closely on a range of issues, with some being more board-driven and others being led by the headmaster. Broadly speaking, however, the board is responsible for establishing the school’s mission, setting the school’s strategic vision, and ensuring the school’s financial health. The board has only a single employee, the headmaster, who operates in a way that is similar to that of a CEO of a for-profit company (although there are obvious differences between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds). The headmaster is responsible for all of the school’s employees, programs, and facilities, as well as for executing the board’s vision.

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The State of the School will begin with remarks from the chair of our board of trustees, Michael Geoffroy. In keeping with the role of the board as described above, Mr. Geoffroy’s remarks will include an update on how the school is advancing our strategic plan, which focuses on five key components: Faculty, Programs, Community, Facilities, and (Financial) Sustainability. Following his remarks, the board will be available to answer questions.


Our board of trustees fully appreciates the tremendous responsibility that comes with its role in governance and wants to ensure that every member of our community is well informed. Opportunities such as the State of the School address not only allow for our community to better understand the health and direction of the school, but should also help to clarify the nature of independent school governance. I am grateful to the board for establishing this new tradition and I hope you are able to join us.

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  • January 11 @ 6pm Coffee with the Admin at Providence Club in Monroe
(we hope to also provide online viewing)
  • January 12 Board Retreat
  • January 19 Release of next year’s calendar and tuition and fee schedule
  • January 21 @ 2pm Open House @ GWA
  • January 23 @ 9am Open House @ GWA
  • TBD State of the School Address @ GWA
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Delayed Start To School On January 9

GWA is excited about the upcoming national championship game when the University of Georgia takes on the University of Alabama for the national championship. Many of our families will be attending or tuning in to the game on Monday night. We will delay the start of school until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 9, for those who stayed up late watching the game.


Buses will pick up at the following times:


Snellville Route:

Snellville Oaks 9:00 a.m.

Buffalo's/Kroger 9:10 a.m.

Publix 9:15 a.m.

Centerhill Church 9:25 a.m.

Sharon Church 9:30 a.m.


Covington Route:

First Baptist Church 9:10 a.m.

North Newton Vol Fire Dept 9:25 a.m.


Conyers Route:

American Legion 9:20 a.m.


We will provide a proctored study hall for students who need to arrive during normal carpool time. If you plan to send your student(s) during normal carpool time, please email your child's homeroom or first period teacher no later than noon tomorrow (Friday) so we can ensure appropriate supervision.

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AD Mark Whitley Attends Conference to Prepare for 2018

Athletic Director Mark Whitley traveled to Phoenix, Arizona in December to attend the National Athletic Directors Conference, which is a conference designed to help athletic directors network, learn and grow within their field. Over 2,200 athletic directors across the country attended.


Coach Whitley took classes and workshops which helped him learn about various facets of the world of high school sports. "One of the most impactful workshops was called Leadership Training," Coach Whitley said." In the class they focused on what makes a leader a good leader and how this can be applied to everyday coaching. "I want to bring back the ideas shared to help coaches at GWA apply it to their own coaching styles," said Coach Whitley.


Other workshops Coach Whitley attended covered growing coaches through professional development. "My plan is to host an on-campus workshop on Three Dimensional Coaching this spring for all of our coaches to attend," said Coach Whitley. This workshop covers coaching from a physical, mental and spiritual perspective.


Coach Whitley also attended workshops on teaching and training of non-teaching coaches (lay coaches) and developing improvement plans for coaching staffs. The most well-attended course covered athletic legal issues.


"My goal is for George Walton Academy to win the Georgia Athletic Director's Athletic Cup," said Coach Whitley. "It's the highest honor in Georgia and we are setting our sights on it."

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Stop and Smell the Roses

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses, and that is exactly what seven GWA alumni did this past Monday, in Pasadena, California. Kaitlyn Fellows (’14) - pictured above, Ben Phillips, (’14), David Arrue (’14), Jacob Weinstein (’14), Mackenzie Britt (’15), Gracie Conner (’16) and Grace Pulliam (’17) are GWA alumni who are currently members of the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band. They were able to perform in both the Rose Bowl Parade and the halftime show of the game between the Bulldogs and the Oklahoma Sooners.


These current UGA students could not say enough about how wonderful their experience was in Pasadena. Kaitlyn Fellows said that she has never cried so many happy tears in her life. Grace Pulliam used one word to describe the experience: surreal. Needless to say, it was an emotional and joyful day for the GWA Bulldogs turned UGA Dawgs.


Fellows added that being in the GWA Marching Band had “absolutely” prepared her for big moments like this with the Redcoats. She said, “The band at GWA is something special, and it doesn’t hurt that we are also the Bulldogs, and that we play many of the same songs throughout the games.”


Since the Dawgs won the Rose Bowl, they will be heading to Atlanta on Mon., Jan. 8, to play against Alabama in the national championship game. Tune in to the game to potentially see some GWA alumni on your TV screen as they cheer on the Dawgs one last time this season.

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During an Open House event, prospective families will get an in-depth look at GWA’s approach to academics as well as the full student experience – and more. A presentation by our administration will be followed by a campus tour and a Q&A session with a panel of current parents. Please click HERE to register.

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Would you like to enter the Chili Cook-off competition?