Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton and Clayton Counties all open their school doors Monday to thousands of students for the first day of classes. These school districts joined a list of others area districts who welcomed students back last week. Drivers around Metro Atlanta were greeted with the return of hundreds of school buses on the streets, and the reminder of the importance of following the bus safety traffic laws of stopping for the bus stop arm signals. This year buses from Gwinnett County Public Schools, Cobb County Public Schools and Atlanta Public Schools are equipped with bus stop arm cameras to catch violators.
Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), the largest school district in Georgia, added thousands of new students this year increasing its enrollment size to 176,000 students. Among the new facilities and changes, GCPS opened two new elementary schools, a new middle school, and a new high school. Students at Central Gwinnett High School returned to a new school logo. Students, parents and the community teamed up to create an edgier, more modern look for the Black Knights.
Gwinnett County Schools also kicked off the year celebrating outstanding district accomplishments equaling to academic success for students. Lanier High School was named a Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), Outstanding High Schools That Works (HSTW) winner. The school was recognized for its learning environment and the way it teaches students. SREB said Lanier High received the award, in part, because of the collaboration between Career Technical Education (CTE) and academic teachers as students participate in project-based learning in the school’s academy programs.
DeKalb County Schools welcomed its enrollment of 104,000 students to class Monday. The district is also welcoming newly appointed School Superintendent. Dr. R. Stephen Green, Ed.D. Among many academic projects for students, DeKalb becomes the first district in the nation to design a solar powered living food lab. Students of Peachtree Charter Middle School (PCMS) are starting the school year off by impacting world hunger on a local level. They have combined STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) with creativity, resourcefulness, and revolutionary sustainable farming techniques including: aquaponics, hydroponics and aquaculture. PCMS students will raise fish and vegetables together in a closed-loop environment that is a self-contained ecosystem. They will distribute food grown and harvested within this system to local families through the Community Assistance Center (CAC).
DeKalb County Schools is one of the only districts in the nation to have resources officers in elementary schools. This year the district has added a new truancy unit and an emergency response team. At total of 70 new officers were added to the school district this year.
Fulton County Public Schools’ doors opened to its enrollment of 96,200 students on Monday. The growing District started the school year out with hundreds of new teachers and staff. The school system also opened the new Asa G. Hilliard Elementary school to almost 800 students and the new College Park Elementary school to a little more than 700 students. Students also enjoyed the new spaces of Heards Ferry Elementary School in Sandy Springs and the temporarily relocated site for Esther Jackson Elementary.
Thanks to the Fulton County eSPLOST one-penny sales tax, not only are district’s students learn in new facilities, but for the first time students have been assigned their own mobile device for personalized learning. The students will use both laptops and tables. Middle and high school students will have mobile devices that they will be allowed to use at school and at home. Elementary school students will use and share devices with a classmate during school hours.
More than 53,000 Clayton County School District’s students return to a new and exciting academic year. This year high school students returned to school with a later start time. The regular school day began at 8:50 a.m. and ended at 4:00 p.m. for all of the district’s public high school students. Middle School students’ day began at 8:15 and ended at 3:10 pm. The adjustment is part of a plan to extend the instructional day to benefit students.
Among the many academic goals for Clayton County, Superintendent Luvenia W. Jackson says the district has a clear focus on effect teaching, instructional technology and student support services. This year the district is implementing Visible Learning. Jackson said, “This means we should be able to tell the parents what learning looks like in Clayton County Public Schools.”
This year Clayton County becomes the first school district to equip its school resources officers with body cameras. Officers say the body cameras will serve as a tool for actually recording evidence during events happening on campus, like fights or disturbances. Clayton County Schools is the 5th largest school district in Georgia.