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GCPS launches new instructional initiatives

Back to School 2019: Korean in Kindergarten and a Health Science HS… just a few of the instructional highlights found in Gwinnett this year

July 16, 2019

     When it comes to instruction Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) is thinking outside the box. The results? Innovative approaches to classroom instruction, scheduling, the use of technology, even physical space, are helping to ensure that our students are prepared for the future. 

     At the district level and in our schools and clusters, teachers and school leaders are exploring new ways to engage students in their learning. GCPS continues to offer College and Career Academies at seven high school and other opportunities for students like International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement, and Dual Enrollment. Additionally, there are many other creative learning opportunities you will find in GCPS this coming year. A few include:

Dual Language Immersion (DLI) expands: Korean offered at Parsons ES 

     Now in its sixth year, GCPS will open the first public school Korean DLI program in the fall. Parsons Elementary School will offer Korean to kindergartners this year. That brings the total number of DLI programs in GCPS to nine. In addition, each of the existing DLI programs, in which young students are instructed half-day in another language, will add one grade level at each of its schools. Spanish DLI programs will expand to 1st grade at Level Creek and Meadowcreek elementary schools.  The program will expand to 3rd grade for Camp Creek, Ivy Creek, and Baldwin elementary schools, and the pioneer cohort of DLI programs at Annistown, Bethesda, and Trip elementary schools will serve students in 5th grade— students who have learned in a foreign language their entire elementary school careers. DLI students at Annistown, Baldwin, Bethesda, Camp Creek, Ivy Creek, Level Creek, and Meadowcreek learn in Spanish and English, while students at Trip learn in French and English and students at Parsons in Korean and English.

Theme schools go beyond the traditional high school experience 

     McClure Health Science High School will open its doors this year, opening doors into the medical field for its students. That’s right, at this unique high school, students will learn a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum through the lens of health science: combining coursework with practical experiences in a myriad of Health Science Fields. This school is focused on “Learning Well.” Its health science focus was developed with students and their futures in mind. Health science job opportunities are growing, and students will be able to earn industry certification, preparing them for the workplace or continued postsecondary experiences. The four primary health science areas will provide a focus for students’ studies in Patient Care, Allied Health, Health Informatics, and Advanced Medicine. These focus areas will give students the foundation to pursue a host of careers, such as emergency responder, radiology tech, physician, medical billing clerk, medical researcher, nurse, and many more. Our goal is to extend learning in the health science areas and to provide students with experiences and knowledge that will help support them as they transition to college and career.

     Paul Duke STEM HS, another Gwinnett theme school, is beginning its second year and growing its technology offerings to students. Through its three different Cybersecurity experiences, Paul Duke STEM HS offers all students the opportunity to explore the exciting world of Cybersecurity and gain greater insight into this growing career area. Through its unique school experience, students have more cybersecurity options than any other high school in Georgia. All students at Paul Duke STEM start with Introduction to Digital Technology, which launches their computer science and Cybersecurity education. In addition, some students opt to participate in a three-year (8 semesters) dual enrollment experience in partnership with Gwinnett Tech that earns college credit towards an Associate’s degree while in high school. And for approximately 25 seniors each year, the school a Senior Experience consisting of a cybersecurity experience with the FBI Atlanta Office and two dual enrollment courses with Mercer University – Atlanta.


     As we kick off the 2019-2020 school year, GCPS celebrates STEM/STEAM-focused learning for students at nine certified schools and programs across the district:

  • Coleman Middle School- STEAM School Certification
  • Collins Hill High School - STEM Program Certification for its Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (cSTEM) Program 
  • Gwinnett School of Mathematics Science and Technology (GSMST)-  STEM School Certification 
  • Lanier Middle School – STEM Certification for its TWIST Program 
  • Lanier High School - STEM Program Certification for its Center for Design and Technology (CDAT) Program
  • Lovin Elementary School – STEM School Certification 
  • Mason Elementary School- STEM School Certification
  • Peachtree Ridge High School - STEM Program Certification for its STEM Program for Innovation Rigor & Excellence (SPIRE) Program
  • White Oak Elementary School - STEM School Certification    

     Each of these schools has been awarded the certification designated by the Georgia Department of Education STEM/STEAM Program. Additionally, more than 20 Gwinnett schools are pursuing STEM certification. Those who were awarded STEM/STEAM Certification designation in May will celebrate their certification in the late fall with recognition and receipt of a certification banner presented by State School Superintendent Woods. 

     Other STEM/STEAM initiatives include every elementary school offering FIRST Lego League robotics competitive teams; and STEM experiences—project based learning, coding, robotics, and enhanced science, math, and career and technical education options— in classrooms across the county; extracurricular competitions in STEM. Ask about STEM or STEAM opportunities at our local schools and learn more about how GCPS is bringing learning to life.

Partnership with Junior Achievement (JA) going strong: 

      The 2019-20 school year marks year five for the JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett, which provides hands-on experiences in financial literacy for 6th and 8th grade students. Annually, the Center serves approximately 55,000 students through JA BizTown and JA Finance Park. Ninety-six percent of teachers whose students attended the Center said they saw students effectively developing and integrating high-order skills including creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication & innovation. In addition, the JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett involved more than 4,000 community volunteers, of which 99 percent said it was a “best-in-class experience and would recommend it to friends and colleagues.” Volunteers are a key to the Center’s operations. Those interested in volunteering at JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett should email

     3DE, a JA program that connects high school students to business leaders and entrepreneurs expands to serve 9th and 10th graders at Parkview High School while Norcross High School will have its first class of seniors in the program. 3DE challenges students to think critically and engage in their learning as they prepare for a successful future. 3DE students gain real-world experience through visits to community businesses, mentoring, networking with professionals, tackling dynamic case studies, and more.

College and Career Academies:  Seven Gwinnett high schools—Berkmar, Central Gwinnett, Discovery, Lanier, Meadowcreek, Shiloh, and South Gwinnett-- continue to build their college and career academies. The academies give students a preview of potential careers as they learn core subjects through the lens of an academic or career theme. Through job-shadowing, internships, and project-based learning, students not only learn from experience and collaborate with peers, they also have the opportunity to earn money. In fact, during the 2018-19 school year, 1,236 students earned nearly $3.2 million dollars through career and technical education work-based learning opportunities.

To learn more about any of these initiatives, contact Bernard Watson, director of community relations, at 678-301-6020.



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