GCSS Celebrates School Social Worker Week
L to R:  Ursula Harris and Shannon Lewis

The week of March 6th-12th is designated as National School Social Worker Week. Our school district recognizes school social workers Ursula Harris, Shannon Lewis and Jarod Anderson, Director of Student Services, for their outstanding work and dedication to our students. These individuals are committed to serving our students and their families by providing invaluable resources that support our students' educational needs and foster academic success. 

" I chose school social work because it afforded me the opportunity to help students deal with issues of life that extend beyond the walls of the school building. I am helping to equip students for success both in and outside of the school setting," stated Mr. Anderson.  "As a social worker, I get to create connections and relationships that help people. I can impact my school, family, and community all from my position as a school social worker. This excites me!" 

Ms. Harris chose social work as her profession because  "it was destined" for her.  She stated, "I have a passion for working with children and to be an advocate for individuals who so often don't have a voice at the table due to various reasons, circumstances, and barriers."

Mr. Anderson, Ms. Harris, and Ms. Lewis are specialized instructional support personnel who have unique training and experience specific to working in schools and with children. They understand the interrelatedness of various systems such as education, juvenile justice, family/children's health, mental health, and child protective services.  They provide services at all educational levels: preschool, elementary, middle and high school.

There are many responsibilities that our school social workers have within the educational system. They assist students and families by examining factors in the home, school, and community that are impacting students' educational success and then assist in reducing those barriers to learning. Most importantly, they serve as liaisons to the home and community and coordinate community agency and/or school collaborations in areas such as mental health, behavioral programs, and student re-entry into school after institutional experiences.

There are also many challenges that school social workers face day to day. " Finding emergency resources for families especially those who are currently homeless or who are facing an eviction is my biggest challenge.  There is a lack of affordable housing in our area, and we have many children who come to school without enough sleep and feeling stress because of their family's living situation," stated Ms. Lewis.  "We provide all the resources and support we can to help these families get back on their feet, which in turn helps children be prepared to learn in school each day."  Ms. Harris added, "As in every community, the challenges include limited resources to tackle the difficult issues that students and families face; the urgency in getting students and parents to realize how important it is for their children to graduate with a high school diploma; and the need for true flexible options for students to obtain their diploma."

Despite the many challenges, our school social workers still focus on ways to render services and resources effectively. When asked if there was a specific initiative or goal that he would like to implement within our schools, Mr. Anderson stated, " I would like to start an initiative helping teachers work more effectively with challenging male students. My biggest goal is to create a Student Support Services Manual outlining all of our processes and procedures."  

The district is grateful for the many hours of service that Mr. Anderson, Ms. Harris, and Ms. Lewis provide to our students and families, and we value their dedication to our school system. It is because of their commitment that our students reap many benefits with astounding results.  Mr. Anderson emphasized,  "My most rewarding experience comes from seeing my former students as successful, responsible adults with their own families."
School District Ready to Rollout PBIS
GMS PBIS Team and STOMP winner with STOMPS and basket
Gainesville City School System is now fully trained in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) through the Department of Education (DOE) and our Regional Educational Services Agency (RESA).  PBIS is an evidence-based, data-driven framework proven to reduce disciplinary incidents, increase a school's sense of safety, improve school climate, and support improved academic outcomes for all students.  

Teams from our schools recently wrapped up two final days of training in February to complete activities related to lesson plans for teaching behavior, data entry and analysis, acknowledgement systems, faculty commitment, and implementation planning.  Our PBIS STOMP winner at the training was Gainesville Middle School, and GMS was awarded a free jeans day and a popcorn basket to take back and share with the school.  A great time was had by all as teams competed to earn the most STOMPS and to learn what it takes to implement the PBIS framework with fidelity. 

There are big plans for the full implementation of PBIS in 2016 - 2017, and the right teams are in place at our schools to make exciting things happen.  When visiting our schools, please be sure to notice the district's commitment to "Be the ONE: Ready, Respectful, Responsible, Role Model!"  
Fair Street Hosts Annual Heritage Luncheon
Parents and guests enjoy entertainment at luncheon
Fair Street IB World School hosted its annual Heritage Luncheon in honor of Black History Month on Friday, February 26th, with the theme entitled "Celebrating Past and Present Heroes".  Family, community members, Fair Street graduates, and Gainesville City Schools staff dined alongside current Fair Street students in the school cafeteria. Each grade level presented musical performances and narrations characterizing the major contributions of influential African Americans such as George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Sojourner Truth. 

Special guest speakers included Dekalb County State Court Judge Kiesha Storey, former City Council member Myrtle Figueras, George Rucker of the Beulah Rucker family, and Gainesville High School Senior Chris Lyles.  Judge Storey, a Fair Street graduate, shared with students how she was determined to pursue her dream of becoming a judge and encouraged them to pursue their dreams. She told how her way was paved by Thurgood Marshall, who was portrayed "wax museum style" by third grade performers. Chris Lyles, a GHS student-athlete scholarship recipient and former Fair Street student, emphasized the importance of getting an education and advised students to "respect their teachers", sharing his memories of the faculty members who nurtured him when he attended Fair Street. 

At the conclusion of the program, fifth grade students recited Dr. Martin Luther King's " I Have A Dream Speech".   The event was a reunion, celebration, and an opportunity to renew the community's commitment to working together for the betterment of all.   
GCSS Students and Staff Honor Dr. Seuss
Enota celebrates Dr. Seuss's birthday

Did you know that March 2nd was Dr. Seuss's birthday? If you were at Enota on Wednesday, you certainly would have known because Enota celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday also known as Read Across America Day in style.  

Guest readers visited Enota as part of the celebration. Former alumni, community helpers, and parents volunteered to read Dr. Seuss books in classrooms and in the media center. Enota third graders enjoyed helping younger students during the celebration. Ms. Dill's volunteers paired up with Ms. Posey's kindergarten class to model best practices in reading stories and working in groups.

GEA students and staff dress as book characters

At Centennial Arts Academy, students were surprised with a special visit from "The Cat in the Hat", and they were excited to see their favorite friend! They also participated in themed activities throughout the week which included Twin Day on Thursday and Book Character Day on Friday.  

Fair Street students also enjoyed hanging out with "The Cat" and did not hesitate to join "him" in a group photo.   The students at New Holland celebrated by creating decorations and dressing up as their favorite Seuss character, and Gainesville Exploration students came to school dressed in unique costumes too.  

Fair Street students with "The Cat in the Hat"

Many faculty and staff dressed for the occasion and were overly excited to dress as a character from Dr. Seuss's universe. Ms. Phillips, a teacher at Enota, dressed up as Thing 1 and her student teacher was Thing 2. New Holland's fabulous school nutrition staff did not miss the opportunity to join the fun by wearing their creative costumes as well!

Students, teachers, and staff enjoyed honoring Dr. Seuss throughout the week.  From the words of The Cat in The Hat, " It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how."  Of course, our students and faculty certainly know how to have fun, especially when having a birthday celebration!

New Holland students and staff in costume
  GHS Sophomore Organizes Fundraising Event
Working up a sweat at Zumbathon
Anita Medepalli really wants to make a difference in people's lives. The Gainesville High School sophomore recently took it upon herself to organize a Party Hearty Zumba-thon fundraising event for the American Heart Association. Anita's goal was to raise awareness about heart disease and to emphasize the importance of fitness within the Gainesville community.

For two hours, a group of 152 people participated in CPR training and fitness exercises. George Ordway of the North Georgia Heart Foundation demonstrated CPR to the group and provided dummies for participants to practice the techniques learned. The group then participated in a high intensity Zumba workout, pausing only during raffle drawings. Through her efforts, Anita was able to raise $1,120, and all proceeds were donated to the American Heart Association. Without a doubt, Anita did make a huge difference in these individuals' lives and within their hearts!  

Gainesville City School System


A Tradition of Excellence


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Wanda Creel, Ed.D.

Board Members

Delores Diaz, Chair
Brett Mercer, Vice Chair
Willie Mitchell
Sammy Smith
John Filson

Important  Dates

March 7
BOE Work Session

March 9
End of 3rd Grading Period

March 11
Teacher Planning 
(Weather Make-Up Day)

March 21
BOE Meeting

March 22
3rd Quarter Report Cards

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