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Liberty BOE recognizes staff and students, talks the gifted program
Liberty YGA
The Liberty County Board of Education recognized the 12 district winners for the Georgia Young Authors competition on Tuesday night. - photo by Lainey Standiford

At the Liberty County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night, the board began by presenting students and staff with certificates of recognition for achievement. Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Susan Avant also provided updates on gifted and advanced services.

The recognitions began with special guest Karen Bell, the Executive Director of Keep Liberty Beautiful. Bell awarded certificates to those who participated or fundraised for Relay for Life. 

Chief Academic Officer Patti Crane presented certificates to Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High School students: Alphonso Brooks, Alimoura Graham, Connor Hamilton, Joshua Smith, Taylor Smith, and JaiEminence Kirk, and Kahmal Nelson. They participated in the GMEA All-State Chorus.

Liberty County School System’s Counselor of the Year is Dr. Cherie Boyd. Boyd is a counselor at Snelson-Golden Middle School.

LCSS also recognized the grade level district winners for the Young Georgia Authors competition. Each student received an award certificate. Winners are: Aviana Triplett, Kindergartener at Frank Long Elementary; Briana Ware, first grader at Taylors Creek Elementary; Maile-Tea Loli, second grader at Joseph Martin Elementary; Jayden Simon, third grader at Button Gwinnett Elementary; Roderick L. Jones, fourth grader at Frank Long; Savannah Lowery, fifth grader at Taylors Creek; Jereon Zion Jones, sixth grader at Midway Middle School; Autumn Hillman-Peabody, seventh grader at Lewis Frasier Middle School; Rachelle Laurienzo, eighth grader at Midway Middle; Jayden Dennis, ninth grader at Liberty County High School; Lilliana Avant, tenth grader at Bradwell Institute; Ivy Patterson, eleventh grader at Bradwell; and Allison Boyle, twelfth grader at Bradwell. Boyle is also LCSS’s STAR Student.

Sixth grade math teacher Dwaynea Golden, a teacher at Snelson-Golden, received recognition for her receipt of the Rosenthal Prize for Innovation and Inspiration in Math Teaching. Golden, who’s math lesson “Statistics TriMath’lon” won as a 2018 runner-up. She attended an awards ceremony at the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City.

Last but not least, LCSS recognized their maintenance and grounds crew, and school nutrition staff members. The hard work and dedication that these people put in each day is greatly appreciated by all of us, Crane said. 

In other board business, resident Patrick Underwood addressed the board about the lack of sports in the middle schools, citing competition and skill development as a reason for consideration. His wife and he run a Facebook page that keeps Liberty County residents up-to-date on what’s happening in schools, taking information directly from the LCSS and schools’ Twitter pages. 

Underwood said the middle schools lacked soccer, volleyball, baseball or softball teams.

“The purpose of sports at middle school level will improve skill level of students prior to entering high school, increase opportunities students receive scholarship wise, and hopes that it will improve communications and team building skills,” Underwood said. 

The board heard updates about Gifted and Advanced Services, a program offered to students who are considered advanced learners, Avant said.

“A lot of research out there shows they are generally an underserved population,” she continued. “So we want to make sure that we provide all the opportunities we can for our gifted and advanced students.”

Generally, services are offered across the board, K-12, but more specifically, there are services tailored specifically to areas K-5, 6-8, and 9-12, she said. K-5 offers acceleration, a resource, collaboration, cluster, and innovative models, and talent development sessions. Areas 6-8 offers acceleration, advanced content, the cluster and collaborative model, and talent development sessions. At the high school level, there’s acceleration, dual enrollment, honors courses, advanced placement, intern and mentorship, and talent development.

The new thing, Avant said, is the talent development sessions. The sessions work with those students who are on the edge of qualification for gifted, LCSS can pull those students in and work closely with them in hopes of pushing them over the edge and get them to qualify during the next testing period, Avant said. That talent development tool is available across K-12.

At the high school level, the intern and mentorship tool is very new, Avant added.

“That allows our students who have completed their coursework to go out and do those internships or those mentorships in an area that they plan to pursue,” Avant said. 

The current gifted enrollment numbers for 2018-2019 as of Feb. 15 are 865 students, up from 861 students in 2017-2018, and 767 students in 2016-2017. Testing is ongoing, meaning that students K-12 can test for the program, Avant said. 

LCSS tests students as recommendations are received, and those can come from the student, a teacher, parent, or other source, she said.

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