August 9th will be my 15th "first day of school" as Gwinnett County Public Schools” CEO/Superintendent, and I have looked forward to every one of them. Each new school year brings untold opportunities, experiences, challenges and rewards, and I doubt 2010-2011 will be any exception!
As we prepare to welcome students and teachers back to class, I want to acknowledge some successes of the year just ended. Our teachers, principals, students and staff demonstrated during a year of tremendous economic challenges why they are considered among the best in class. Genuine professionals, they focused on student achievement and operational excellence despite the distractions these uncertain times presented. They served our students well and 2009-2010 ultimately was a very good year.
Here are just a few significant accomplishments from last year:
- We began the school year in August 2009 and ended it in May 2010 celebrating the school district being named a finalist for The Broad Prize for Urban Education – twice! For two consecutive years, The Broad Foundation saluted GCPS for overall performance improvement and closing the academic achievement gap among groups of learners. We were proud to be one of the five national finalists for 2009, and hope to claim The 2010 Broad Prize when the winner is announced in October.
- The Class of 2010 distinguished itself in a number of ways. It was the largest class with over 8,500 graduates. Ninety percent plan to continue their education, and they earned over $108 million in scholarships, not including HOPE Scholarships.
- Six seniors earned one of 2,500 National Merit Scholarships. Seven Gwinnett graduates are among the 1,000 Gates Millennium Scholars, eligible for a full-ride education through graduate school.
- Twenty-two graduates earned appointments to our nation”s military academies, and 13 seniors were awarded $20,000 Broad Prize Scholarships due to our status as a finalist.
- Of the United States” 141 Presidential Scholars in 2010, four hail from Georgia and two of those are GCPS graduates.
- The school district”s Foundation inducted its inaugural members of the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame, honoring the athletic achievements of five Gwinnett superstars: basketball greats Cindy Brogdon and Ida Neal-Smith; football Super Bowler Matt Stinchcomb; college baseball and football standout Terry Harvey; and legendary boxer the late Ezzard Charles. The annual event will honor outstanding Gwinnett achievers in the world of sports, and benefit the Foundation that supports teaching and learning in our classrooms.
I believe that success breeds success. The accomplishments of 2009-2010 spur us to approach 2010-2011 full of optimism and excitement about what this school year will bring!