for those who teach and those who support teachers
October 5, 2023
Coffee with Calvin
Did you know that October is National Principals Month?
We value our principals who lead and support Team GCPS staff with empathy, equity, and excellence to cultivate a school culture of belonging. Our principals’ commitment to introspection and embracing diverse cultures ensures #EachandEvery student and family feels welcome, safe, accepted, respected, and prepared for the future.
2025 Teacher of the Year Top 25
The field of teachers vying to become the 2025 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year just got smaller as GCPS announced the names of the 25 semifinalists to be considered for the system’s top honor.
Each month of the 2023-24 school year, we will spotlight one of our strategic priorities or Portrait of a Graduate competencies by sharing the stories of two clusters—highlighting their classrooms, notable events, community insights, achievements, community service projects, student organizations, volunteer efforts, and more.
- Cultural competence: Increase the cultural competence and proficiency of our organization and individual staff members to improve teaching, strengthen programs, and enhance engagement across the full spectrum of our diverse community.
Staff and student wellbeing: Promote student and staff wellbeing through prioritizing self-care, physical and mental health, and social emotional learning.
Educator diversity: Develop robust pipelines and support systems to recruit and retain an educator workforce that reflects the diversity of our students and community.
Voting is open for the 2024–25 and 2025–26 school year calendar options. This is not a survey—the votes of staff, families, and students will decide which calendar is adopted by the school system for two years. All staff received an email with a link to vote. To see a comparison chart detailing the features of the four calendar options, visit our website. Voting will end at 11:59 p.m. on October 22.
Gwinnett County Public Schools is CharacterStrong
We are happy to announce that we have adopted the CharacterStrong resources this school year, which takes on a Whole School, Whole Child approach! This curriculum includes staff and student activities around social-emotional skills that have proved to help us be productive, empathetic, and successful individuals.
Each month, we will include “Staff CharacterDares” that are low burden, high impact (LoHi). These dares help to strengthen relationships from staff to students, staff to staff, and staff to families.If you complete the monthly dares by the end of the school year, you will have engaged in thoughtful conversations, relationship-building activities, and character development at home.
Shared with me vs. Shared Drives in Google Drive
There is a big difference between files shared with you in Google and those in a Google shared drive. Check out this video from GCPS Tech Tips to learn about the difference and how to use each correctly!
Lock Down Your Login – Use A Passphrase
Passwords are the most common way to prove our digital identity. We use passwords to access our work and home computers and email, online banking services, and social media accounts. If these passwords are not strong enough, systems and data are left vulnerable to attack. In fact, compromised passwords are the leading cause of security breaches.
A passphrase is a sentence-like string of words longer than a traditional password, easy to remember, and difficult to guess. To learn more, visit our Links Hub.
Here are some best practices when creating a strong passphrase:
- Pick a phrase or series of random words that are meaningful to you. Think of four things you like, for instance, blue, apple, tailgate, and mountain.
- Add uppercase and lowercase and a special character: BlueAppleTailgateMountain!
- Add a dash in between each word: Blue-Apple-Tailgate-Mountain!
- Don’t use the name or nickname of a pet or relative
- Don’t use information easily obtained about you, such as your address, telephone number, or hometown
- Don’t use a commonly used password such as P@ssw0rd, qwerty, or 123456
- Don’t use a password of all numbers or a password composed of just alphabet characters
For additional cybersecurity tips, visit the Cybersecurity Awareness and Education microsite by clicking the Security Awareness icon in the Employee Portal.
Open Enrollment (OE) for Plan Year 2024 runs October 16 through November 3. Changes made during OE are effective January 1 and will be in effect for the 2024 calendar year. OE changes to health insurance are made through the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) OE website. OE changes to GCPS benefits will be made via the Online Benefits System, located in the Staff Portal. As a reminder, you must re-enroll each year if you have a Health Care or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. Before making your benefit selections, review the SHBP and GCPS plan information available during OE. In the coming weeks, look for further information from the Benefits and Leave Administration office.
October 17 is Bus Driver and Monitor Appreciation Day
Wednesday, October 17, is the annual Bus Driver and Monitor Appreciation Day, recognized statewide as an opportunity to show transportation professionals how much they are appreciated and the importance of the role they play in the lives and well-being of our students. This is an excellent day to show your drivers and monitors how much they mean to your local school.
The district has a new Spanish Podcast for families
En Familia con GCPS is a new Spanish-language podcast for our district's Hispanic families and students dedicated to demystifying our education system. Join hosts Lynnette Aponte, Director of the International Newcomer Center, and Marisol Devarez, Spanish Language Communications Specialist, as they bring you monthly episodes featuring Spanish-speaking district staff who share valuable resources, simplify processes, and offer essential support. Share with your families today!
GCPS Foundation and Lidl team up to give back
The GCPS Foundation invites you to shop at Lidl through November 7 as part of their Groceries that Give Back campaign and earn up to $50,000 for your child’s school’s athletic programs and other extracurricular activities.
In this Focus Moment, Baggett, Jackson, and Berkeley Lake Elementary Schools have each launched a book vending machine to ignite a passion for reading among their students. Funded by various grants and community support, these machines reward students with books for positive behavior and reading milestones, enriching school culture across the board.
We want to share your good news with our community!
Want to share a success story about your school or department with the entire GCPS community?
Are you looking for a way to celebrate an honor and recognize a teacher, student, or team member for their work? Do you want to share an achievement, upcoming event, or opportunity?
Do you have GCPS Good News to share? Let us know through this online form.
Awards and Honors
Two GCPS schools honored as National Blue Ribbon Schools
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recognized Harris Elementary School and Pharr Elementary School as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2023. Harris and Pharr Elementary are among a select group of 353 schools to receive the honor.
North Metro Academy of Performing Arts is one of 2023 America’s Healthiest Schools
North Metro Academy of Performing Arts has been recognized as one of 2023 America’s Healthiest Schools by The Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Looking Ahead in GCPS...
- Keep Connected with news from GCPS TV… the next episode airs October 12!
- The next regular Board meeting is October 19. (Online, find links to sign up for the public comment sections of the meeting.)
- Watch for the next issue of GCPS Links on October 19!