The Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP) named Sweetwater Middle School and Trickum Middle School among its 2019 Breakout Middle Schools in November. The Breakout Schools Award identifies, recognizes, and showcases Georgia middle schools that are high-achieving or dramatically improving student achievement. The annual award recognizes outstanding middle schools based on collaborative leadership; personalization; and curriculum, instruction, and assessment. A competitive program that has seen the number of applicants growing each year, this year GASSP recognized six Breakout Middle Schools. In addition, Sweetwater Middle was one of only three schools in the state recognized as a Distinguished Breakout Middle School. The three schools earning the “Distinguished” designation offered quality evidence and supporting documentation in their application that confirmed a demonstrated commitment to meeting the needs of all students.
Sweetwater Middle School Principal Jay Nebel says the recognition is an honor. “This award recognizes the great work being done by our students, our teachers and staff, and our community,” Nebel said. “I tell our kids, staff, and community constantly that they are the best in Gwinnett, and this recognition helps validate those sentiments. Our community, staff, and kids are amazing, and this award proves it!” Sweetwater Middle earned a $1,000 bonus for earning the Distinguished Breakout designation.
In early November, representatives of Sweetwater Middle School presented to the GASSP committee, providing a snapshot of the Sweetwater learning community. Nebel says, “We celebrated significant academic gains in all areas of the CCRPI which led to a 10-point gain over the previous year. We also proudly shared our recognition as a PBIS Distinguished School by the Georgia Department of Education. This honor celebrates the positive climate, culture, and student behavior at our school. School leaders also discussed unique programs found at Sweetwater like the Sweetwater Scholarship Fund. Primarily funded by teachers and school fundraisers, this Fund has distributed $5,500 to seniors from Berkmar High School who matriculated through Sweetwater.
Ryan Queen, the principal at Trickum Middle, agrees with Nebel that the
Breakout Middle School designation is proof that their hard work is paying off. “To be recognized is to shine a light on the great work of the staff and students,” Queen said. “Being that this award is based on evidence of collaborative leadership, personalization and curriculum, instruction, and assessment, it is really just telling the everyday story of Trickum. It’s always nice when you are recognized, however, with the collective mentality of continuous improvement, there is still much to be done.”