System-wide Straight Talk for GSCS Employees
Sept. 15-22, 2017
In This Issue
Seems it was only a couple of weeks ago when we watched the devastation Hurricane Harvey leveled on Texas and Louisiana with wind and rain. Our hearts went out to the residents for the havoc the storm caused in their personal and professional lives. But, we also heard stories of amazing resiliency as people began to put their lives back together and move back toward normalcy.

And then, Hurricane Irma eyed Florida and the southeastern U.S. Evacuees from Florida either stopped in Griffin for shelter or moved past to points north. By Friday, all indications aligned that we would be in the path of a significant weather event by the beginning of the week. Our crisis team met with city and county emergency management officials to view National Weather Service briefings, and we consulted with surrounding school districts and shared information. District leadership reviewed all incoming information to devise options we might consider. We decided to cancel school on Monday and Tuesday to provide families time to take appropriate safety precautions as the storm approached. We continued to meet and work with local emergency officials to coordinate our response with them over the duration of the storm.

Tropical storm Irma impacted our community, albeit not quite as strong or persistent as Harvey, but damaging in its own right. Tree damage, power outages, and road closures were significant across the county. I'm sure you've seen photos of the damage in several places where grand, old oak trees uprooted and crashed to the ground. The oak that fell on the Taylor Street campus was impressive and pulled up chunks of concrete sidewalks as it fell on the Parent Service Center. While there are no limbs poking through the roof, several leaks formed. Cleaning up the tree and repairing the roof will take time and will not be cheap. Several of us attended meetings with city and county officials to assess damage and cleanup plans on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. We weren't ready to reopen schools due to clean up efforts. Local power and road crews didn't need school traffic complicating the work they had to do. Many people experienced power outages lasting two to three days.

On Wednesday, we had four schools without power, several roads were deemed impassable and internet accessibility was unknown. The day was spent conducting a review of all our facilities for damage to buildings, accessibility, food supply, etc. We lost a minimal amount of food inventory and our buildings sustained minor damage. Over all, we were very fortunate. Our leadership team decided to reopen schools Thursday morning. While conditions may not be perfect, it's time to resume normal activities while the cleanup continues.

I want to thank our partners at the City of Griffin and Spalding County who cooperated fully with us to make a return to school possible. City and County crews were fantastic in meeting the challenges presented. And, thanks to all of the GSCS staff, for your patience and flexibility. We will get through this and be stronger for it.
Have a great weekend!
Jim Smith
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Harrison Whitmore, a seventh grader in the gifted program at Carver Road Middle School, was one of the 142 Georgia students selected to serve on State School Superintendent Richard Woods' 2017-2018 Student Advisory Council, representing the Griffin-Spalding County School System.

As a member of the council, Harrison will meet with Superintendent Woods throughout the school year to discuss the impact of state policies in the classroom. Members of the Student Advisory Council will also discuss other issues related to education, serve as the Superintendent's ambassadors to their respective schools and participate in service projects to benefit schools and students.

Members were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 students who applied to serve on the council. Students were chosen based on the strength of their essay answers, which focused on their ideas for public education as well as their community service experience. The students selected attend public schools all over the state.

On Sunday, Sept. 17, the Fairmont Alumni Association invited Griffin High School to kick-off their Homecoming festivities by participating in their
bi-annual parade. Fairmont Alumni will lead the parade and GHS will bring it home!

The line-up begins at 1:30PM in the Food Depot parking lot with a parade start time of 2:30PM. The route will be on W. Taylor Street beginning at 18th Street and ending at 4th Street.


Griffin High School students, staff and alumni have collected over 2,950 items for hurricane relief. Items collected include school supplies, cases of water, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items. The supplies will be loaded on trucks headed to Texas to help those in need. Donations include over 115 cases of water donated by chorus students and other school supplies provided by many other student organizations. Many thanks to the girls' soccer team for helping collect and organize the items for distribution.

Griffin High School would also like to specially thank alumni, James Kent, GHS class of 1994, his father, Elbert Kent, and employees at Swissport Cargo Services in Atlanta for their help collecting supplies.

The school will continue to receive donations for the next two weeks to help Texas, Florida and South Georgia recover from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The Griffin-Spalding Partners in Education is offering classroom/field trip grants to GSCS teachers. If your classroom, department, grade level or teaching team wants to initiate a program or project requiring up to $1,000 visit the PIE website and complete your application at

* The deadline for applications is Sept. 29.
"The teacher who is indeed wise does
not bid you to enter the house of his
wisdom but rather leads you to the
threshold of your mind ."
~ Kahil Gibran

Each year, National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15, to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Here are some resources to help you educate and celebrate Hispanic culture:
Each year, new students admitted to Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) are asked to share the name of a teacher who has been especially influential in their development. This year, new MIT student and 2017 Spalding High School Graduate Francisco Zepeda named SHS Teacher Dee Joiner as his especially influential teacher. 

Congratulations and thank you to Dee Joiner for making such an important impact on our students!

Click HERE to read the letter to Dee Joiner from MIT.

(You can almost smell the corn-dogs)

Click HERE to view the 2017 fair schedule.
Marcy Blackmon
Mrs. Blackmon has done a wonderful job implementing innovative parent involvement activities. We appreciate her hard work!
Rachel Bailey
Ms. Bailey volunteers each morning to assist with duty in the cafeteria and on the bus yard. She also coordinates our school safety patrol program, which uses 4th and 5th grade students to help with morning routines. She truly demonstrates what it means to be a team player. We appreciate all of her help each and every day!
Kathryn Harris
Ms. Harris is cheerful, dedicated and very conscientious about her work and work ethic. She is ready for her students with a smile every morning. Even during the most daunting or overwhelming times, she still has a positive attitude and is willing to help others. Her positive energy is uplifting!
Jasmyn Monette
Mrs. Monette, our Instructional Coach, is working diligently to improve our teachers and staff. She has excellent resources and works hard to build relationships. Mrs. Monette goes out of her way to encourage and guide teachers daily. Thank you!
Nicole Smith
Nicole is a new teacher who is taking on the challenges of a difficult classroom with compassion. She is learning new instructional strategies and implementing them in her classroom. She is truly an asset to Crescent. Nicole, we are proud of your diligence and hard work. Thanks for all you do to help our students be successful academically and emotionally. 
Sandi Lee
Mrs. Lee keeps a positive attitude, no matter the circumstances, and is always willing to lend a helping hand. Thank you Mrs. Lee for being an inspiration and example to us all!
Lisa Smith
Lisa is our school nurse and is truly amazing. Despite the clinic always being busy, she steps up to does whatever is needed to help everywhere. She has a huge heart for our students and works with parents to get students what they need to be healthy, so they can focus on learning. JRE is blessed to have her.
Elaine Parks and Nora Eason
These ladies help keep Jordan Hill going day in and day out. They are always willing to help students, staff and parents with whatever needs may arise.  Thank you Mrs. Parks and Mrs. Eason for all you do each and every day.
Melissa Cohowcz, Autumn Hudson and Jasmine Chapman
This kindergarten team collaborated and planned lessons during the summer months to meet the academic needs of all students. On any given day, you will find Mrs. Cohowcz, Mrs. Hudson, and Ms. Chapman spending countless hours after school preparing effective instructional lessons to ensure students are provided strong literacy and number sense skills. Moore is very privileged to have these committed educators on its team!
Nicki Gore and Debbie Harper
I can't use enough adjectives of praise for both of these ladies! Nicki Gore is an absolutely amazing and organized academic coach who is truly passionate about curriculum and professional development. She is constantly in our classrooms modeling lessons and conducting on-going trainings to support our Literacy Plan. Debbie Harper teaches special education but also jumps in to help anywhere she sees a need. Without being asked, Debbie volunteered to help with the after-school daycare van riders and to help keep our website up to date. She is the model of being a team player and doing what's in the best interest of Moreland Road. Debbie is also one of the captains for our Relay for Life Team and both she and Mrs. Gore are our Parent Involvement Liaisons.  We are so grateful to have Nicki Gore and Debbie Harper apart of the MRE family!
Shavon Beckett
In addition to her regular duties and responsibilities, Ms. Beckett enlisted the help of a few friends to decorate our building with the House theme of "Emojin the Possibility." She created bulletin boards and decorations to hang in the hallways.  She also created posters and banners for staff to use to decorate their doors and classrooms. We appreciate the extra effort and support Ms. Beckett has shown for our school, staff and students.