In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

July 15, 2021

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • Summer Camps: through Aug. 5
  • Dawgs 360 Gently Used Sale: Aug. 2
  • Fall Sports/Band Picture Days: Aug. 2, 3, 9
  • Meet & Greet with Mr. Hobbs: Aug. 15
  • Open House: Aug. 16
  • Senior Class BBQ: Aug. 17
  • First Day of School for All Grades: Aug. 18
  • Ice Cream Social: Aug. 26
  • Curriculum Night: Sept. 21
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Dear Bulldog Families,

I wanted to reach out in my first week and let all of you know how excited I am to join the GWA family. In the short time I have been here, it has become very apparent to me that this is a special place with an outstanding staff who love this school.

I am eager to get to know all of you and especially your children. When the Board of Trustees approached me about coming to GWA, the main factor in my decision was the opportunity to be involved with the students. I am passionate about their success in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. When our students graduate, I want them to be prepared to be successful in whatever they choose for their life’s work. We have one chance to get it right with our children. We must not fail them!

I encourage you to continue to be involved here at GWA. I will ask our teachers to communicate with you often as we work together to ensure the success of every student.

I am looking forward to a great school year!

Best Regards,

Gary Hobbs

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With our Open House date and times finalized - we are getting ready to welcome everyone for the 2021- 2022 school year! Please note the following regarding the upcoming Open House event:

  • Open House is not a drop-in event, please choose one of the two sessions (sign up is not required) and arrive no later than the start time.
  • Lower School sessions will start in students' homerooms, class lists will be posted outside the teachers' doors.
  • Middle and Upper School students will start in their first period class, schedules will be released prior to Open House.
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Important Schedule Details

Please take time to familiarize yourself with the daily schedules for the upcoming school year linked below. The start and release times vary from last year and in middle and upper school - students will be dismissed at 2:45 p.m. on Wednesdays. Please see special schedules for the first week of school pictured below.
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Please click the links below to view and print daily full week schedules for middle and upper school for the 2021- 2022 school year. These schedules may also be found in ParentsWeb under Resource Documents.

Middle School Daily Schedule

Upper School Daily Schedule

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What is Linx?

Middle and upper school students will have a weekly scheduled event called Linx for the 2021-2022 school year. This will take place each Wednesday from 2:15 – 2:45 p.m. and will be a way for them to “link” themselves to their classmates, their teachers and advisors, and to the Monroe community. Each week Linx will take on a different form, whether it be an Advisory session, a pep-rally, a guest speaker, or a grade level meeting. While these events have taken up class time in the past, having the Linx session already scheduled into the weekly calendar is going to make sure that instructional time is protected and that our students are still able to have time for these other important parts of the GWA experience!

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Read, Read, Read

The benefits of reading have been well-established. From improved focus, better grammar, enhanced writing skills and even stress relief, reading is crucial to a child's development. Beyond required reading assignments, we encourage all students to read recreationally during summer break. Please see the suggestions for optional reading below for both middle and upper school students. These lists can also be found at on the respective academic pages. Happy reading!

Middle School Book Recommendations

Upper School Book Recommendations

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Welcoming New Team Members

Throughout the summer, we will be introducing our newest faculty and staff and ask you to join us in welcoming them to our GWA family!

Suzy Quinlan - Upper School Math Teacher

Suzy earned a bachelor's degree in abstract mathematics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She recently completed her 16th year of teaching and taught high school math at Peachtree Academy for the past four years. She obtained a Montessori Certification and taught at the Montessori School of Covington and Welsh Hills Montessori in Georgia and Ohio. Additionally, she worked for Acuity Brands as a software developer for 13 years.

"I am excited to be a member of a well-supported faculty in a school that is making academia a priority while still offering diverse opportunities for students," said Suzy. ""I have been passionate about math and children my whole life. While I didn't start out in education, I have found a passion for the field. Math is a subject that should be made accessible to everyone and I will bring enthusiasm, energy, and a love for the subject to the classroom while encouraging and supporting GWA students. I thank parents for the opportunity to partner with them in their children's education. I am excited to begin my George Walton adventure with EllieGrace my youngest daughter. We hope to make new friends and find a kind, supportive school home here. I hope I can make connections with the students and inspire them to be lifelong learners who believe they can use logic to solve problems - whether it is a math or science problem or any other kind of practical life problem."

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Michael Elmanakabady - Humanities and Student Life

Michael graduated from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia with a degree in Risk Management & Insurance. He worked for eight years as an administrator and coach at Bethlehem Christian Academy and has also worked at a marketing agency.

"I'm passionate about culture and preparing the next generation," said Michael. "When I think back to my high school years, I'm so thankful for the coaches, teachers and administrators that poured into my life. I'm filled with fond memories of school traditions and plenty of pride and nostalgia. I want today's students to think back to their time in high school as fondly as I do, so I love working with high school students to enrich their experience and pour wisdom and knowledge into their lives. I'm excited to work alongside all the wonderful people I've met and to get to know all the students and families that make up the GWA community. I've experienced first-hand the benefits and joys of being part of the community an independent school provides, and I'm excited to get to know each and every family, and for them to get to know mine."

Michael and his wife Jenna have two sons named Asher and Aaron.

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Thomas Nguyen - Physics Teacher

Thomas attended the University of Georgia where he earned both a Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Science in Kinesiology. He also completed a Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science from Furman University. He served as a science teacher at Cedar Shoals High School, as director of pharmacy and preceptor at Athens Infusion, and director of pharmacy and preceptor at Pharmaceuticals Specialties, Inc.

"The enthusiasm and clear passion for young people attracted me to George Walton Academy" said Thomas. "I am most excited about building relationships with the students, faculty, staff, and community at GWA. I have a passion for young people which I believe will be evident in my classroom."

Thomas and his wife have three children and look forward to being part of the GWA community.

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Amber Thomason - MS and US Counselor

Amber earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from California State University, San Marcos and began the School and Mental Health Counseling program through the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. During her graduate studies, she worked in alternate education programs and inner city schools in Philadelphia. She gained experience running small groups in self-esteem and anger management. She also worked in child mental health settings and with families and earned her Masters of Science in Education in May of 2012.

Following graduate school, she worked at a summer camp for children with behavioral needs, then went on to work as an ABA therapist with children with developmental impairments. She then moved into private practice as a mental health counselor and worked with children, adolescents, and families. From 2015-2018, she gained experience working at the hospital level and ran groups with adolescents. Since 2018, she has been operating her own practice.

"My goal is for all of the children and families I work with to become their best self and work toward their potential. I try to provide a supportive environment for students to develop and meet goals that will carry them into their future. I am most excited to help be a part of and continue to grow a strong community at GWA - one where students feel safe to explore and learn everything they need for a bright future."

Amber and her husband have two children. She enjoys hiking, reading, and creating.

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Taylor Tinsley is Athlete of the Year!

GWA senior (and number one pitcher in the U.S.!) is named Athlete of the Year by The Walton Tribune. We can't wait for the upcoming Lady Dawgs season and to follow Taylor's softball career as she heads to collegiate play next year. Congrats on this well-deserved recognition, Taylor!
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GWA Athletics will sponsor (free of charge) sports physicals for middle and high school athletes on Monday, July 26, 4 - 5:30 p.m. in the Nicholson Center. Athletes must bring all athletic physical and participation forms found on (main athletic page) or click HERE to print. No appointment necessary, but please be on time.
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Getting Ready to Roll!

GWA is currently holding interviews for bus drivers. We are looking to fill both full-time and part-time (field trip/sports/activity/sub) positions. CDL with P & S endorsements preferred but we will train the right person(s). Contact Heather Dokes at for more info.

For daily bus schedules go to Resource Documents in ParentsWeb or click HERE. The departure time for buses will be 3:35 p.m., except on Wednesdays when bus will leave GWA at 2:50 p.m. Please note that masks are currently required at all times on GWA buses per CDC mandate.

If your student chooses to return home with another adult from a game or other GWA event in which a bus has been provided - they must provide a completed permission form to their coach or teacher. The form may be found in Resource Documents in ParentsWeb or click HERE to print.

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New Year - New Decal

We will continue to monitor access to our campus via the front entrance (Spring Street) during the school day by utilizing the windshield decals for the new school year. Please note, the remaining gates will be closed when school is in session. The procedures in place provide enhanced security for students, faculty and staff while making our campus welcoming and accessible to our broader community.

Instructions for front gate entry during the school day:

  • Our GWA families, staff and faculty are being provided windshield decals to ensure quick and easy access. Student drivers must also display the windshield decal.
  • Visitors will be required to produce identification and have a purpose for their visit. A parking pass will be provided to display on their dashboards. They will also be directed to the main office to sign in and obtain a visitor pass.

All families will receive the new 2021-2022 decal at Open House. Please place your decal on your car as soon as it is received so you will be ready once school returns to session. The decal should be placed low on the driver’s side of the windshield (see photo above).

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New Food Services Provider

We are pleased to announce that Flik Independent School Dining will be partnering with us to provide healthy and delicious meal options for our students, teachers, and staff this upcoming school year. Flik's trademarked, proprietary "Platinum Service" is inspired by the legendary Ritz-Carlton customer service model and has been Flik's standard of excellence for the past 12 years. If you have not responded to the Flik survey, please click HERE to provide your feedback.

We will be providing details soon about the new food service program, but in the meantime. we invite you to learn more about Flik and their philosophy at their website:

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Sign Up for Summer Camp Fun!

GWA summer camps are in full swing - offering summer enrichment for kids of all ages and all interests! Our summer camps are open to the community and run through Aug. 5, so bring a friend and spread the word about summer fun at GWA.

Please see camp listings below and click HERE for complete camp descriptions and the registration links. Happy camping!

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It's Dawg Season

Join Dawgs 360 this year and reap all of the benefits! Dawgs 360 is simply the best way to get involved at GWA! It is the clearinghouse for all volunteer opportunities on campus. It’s a 360 degree turn, a full circle of influence that promotes and celebrates Bulldog school pride.

We encourage parents to become involved in our GWA community. Attending events and volunteering are great ways to meet other parents, interact with students and collaborate with GWA faculty. There’s no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together.

Enjoy the perks and convenience of being a Dawgs 360 member including:

*Admission to all concerts, plays, and performances

*Admission to all home athletic competitions, except playoffs

*Field trips, for both the student and the member chaperone (overnight field trips require additional fee)

*Class parties

*10% discount on all regular-priced apparel at the Dawg Shop

An annual family membership is $250 and the deadline to join is Sept. 30. Click HERE for the membership form. Email Elizabeth McDonel, Director of Dawgs 360, at if you have any questions.

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Ice Cream Anyone?

Dawgs 360 is thrilled to announce the return of a Bulldog favorite tradition - the Ice Cream Social! We look forward to welcoming our new GWA families and reconnecting with old friends. If you are interested in providing and serving ice cream - please contact Elizabeth McDonel at
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Mark Your Calendar!

Get an early start on the school year and beat the Open House rush by shopping the Dawgs 360 gently used uniform sale for school apparel on Aug. 2, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. in the cafeteria. Families are invited to become 21-22 Dawgs 360 members and shop the Dawg Shop for new spirit wear and uniform items as well. This event coincides with Fall Picture Days.

If you would like to donate uniforms, please drop them off at the front office from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Questions? Email Director of Dawgs 360 Elizabeth McDonel at

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Summer Hours Reminder

Our summer front office hours are Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.