Author Archive

Summer program in Gwinnett for elementary and middle school students

May 1, 2019 Leave a comment

The Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education (GAGE) will offer two weeks of its Summer Exploration Program this summer.

The camp is open to rising 1st through 8th graders. Campers choose a morning class and an afternoon class. Topics include brain teasers, event planning, food science, criminal justice, games, and more. Each class is taught by a certified teacher.

Summer Exploration Program camps will be held June 3-7 at Partee Elementary School in Snellville, and June 10-14 at Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn. The registration deadline is May 24, 2019.

Students don’t have to be enrolled in Gwinnett County Public Schools to attend the GAGE camps.

Categories: Summer programs

Major birdwatching event this Saturday

April 30, 2019 Leave a comment

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology invites anyone interested in birds or citizen science to take part in its annual Global Big Day this Saturday, May 4.

By participating, you’ll be joining tens of thousands of other birders around the world who are making note of birds they see. As with other citizen-science birding events, Global Big Day helps scientists see patterns in bird populations and migrations.

You can be part of Global Big Day by watching for birds for as little as 10 minutes, anytime during the day, at any location — although if you’re looking for a birding hot spot, the Cornell Lab can make suggestions.

Categories: Enrichment

Summer music camp at Clayton State

April 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Spivey Hall at Clayton State University will offer a music camp this summer for students rising to grades 4-7.

Campers will sing in a chorus, play percussion and chimes, and learn folk dances, in addition to other social and artistic activities. Musical experience isn’t required to attend the camp, but campers should be enthusiastic about making music with others.

The camp will be held June 10-14, 2019, on the Clayton State University campus. Registration is open now. Enrollment is limited to 45 students.

Categories: Summer programs

Update on Dual Enrollment bill

April 11, 2019 Leave a comment

HB 444, which would have created new guidelines and limitations for Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program — see my prior post for details — was tabled in the Georgia Senate and was not passed into law.

The Senate Higher Education Committee had written a substitute version of the bill, which made some noteworthy adjustments to the version that had been passed by the House. Among them:

  • Ninth and tenth graders could take Dual Enrollment classes at four-year colleges and universities, but only online — not in person on the college campuses. (In the House version, freshmen and sophomores would be ineligible for Dual Enrollment.)
  • Dual Enrollment would be capped at 32 semester hours total, with a maximum of 16 semester hours in any one semester. (The House version of the bill would cap the hours at 30.)
  • The Senate’s version eliminated all language about tapping into a student’s HOPE Scholarship allotment to pay for Dual Enrollment courses beyond the cap of 32 total semester hours. Instead, those additional classes — referred to in the bill as “noncovered dual credit courses” — would be paid at the student’s own expense.

Based on feedback I received in response to my prior post, I imagine the gifted community would prefer the eligibility of freshmen and sophomores that’s contained in the Senate version of the bill, even though it provides for online Dual Enrollment classes only.

Where I think parents of gifted kids won’t be happy with the Senate version is the removal of the option to use HOPE funds to pay for Dual Enrollment. Last month, I heard from some parents who were vehemently against the idea of having extra Dual Enrollment hours charged against their HOPE allotment. I’m guessing they’ll be even unhappier with having out-of-pocket payment as the only option for students who complete much of their high-school coursework by taking college courses.

Personally, I saw the use of HOPE funds as a reasonable compromise. While I recognize there are some highly gifted, highly mature students who are more suited to take their high-school classes in a college setting, I don’t think the state of Georgia should be on the hook to pay for more than one college degree for any student.

Those who contacted me seemed to hold the position that for their children, the Dual Enrollment classes weren’t really a college degree program, but rather a substitute high-school education with a level of rigor that wasn’t being provided through their public school. I sympathize with these parents, but I think that battle should be taken to the public schools, which need to offer appropriate education for all students. If a student truly is ready for full-time, college-level work on a college campus at 15 or 16, then yes, they should be allowed to “Move on When Ready,” to use the former name of Dual Enrollment. However, in doing so, they are in fact moving on to college, essentially skipping high school, and under that circumstance, I think it’s completely appropriate that they utilize the HOPE Scholarship as they embark on their college education.

As I wrote in my previous post, the state wants to adjust the Dual Enrollment program because its popularity is busting its allocated budget. For that reason, I’d expect the legislature to take this up again in the 2020 session.

If this is an important issue to you, I suggest you don’t wait until January of next year to give your input. Use the legislative off-season to contact legislators with your opinions and suggestions. This would include the bill’s sponsors, all of whom are listed on the bill’s dedicated page, and members of the House Education Committee and Senate Higher Education Committee. If one of these legislators is your elected representative, start there. If not, I suggest you contact one of the bill’s sponsors with your perspective.

Categories: Advocacy and policy

DeKalb poetry slam for young writers

March 18, 2019 Leave a comment

Young poets who live in DeKalb County are invited to read their original works at a poetry slam on Friday, April 19, 2019 at the Mason Mill Recreation Center.

The event is open to writers ages 5 to 17. There are only 20 available spots, and the deadline to sign up is April 5.

There’s no cost to participate; tickets for audience members are $5 each.

Categories: Uncategorized

HB 444 would modify dual enrollment

March 12, 2019 3 comments

Dual enrollment is an important educational option for gifted students, especially those students whose home high schools don’t offer a wide variety of AP or advanced courses, or those who prefer the more serious environment of a college campus.

Students taking part in Georgia’s Dual Enrollment Program take classes at colleges or universities — public or private — at no cost, and earn both high-school credit and college credit for those classes.

HB 444, which passed the Georgia House of Representatives last week and is now in the Georgia Senate’s Higher Education Committee, would make two significant changes to dual enrollment:

  1. Dual enrollment at four-year colleges, whether part of the University System of Georgia or private institutions, would be open only to high-school juniors and seniors. This is a change from existing policy, under which freshmen and sophomores also are eligible. (Under the bill, sophomores could still take classes at the state’s technical colleges.)
  2. The Dual Enrollment Program would pay for a maximum of 30 semester hours (45 quarter hours) of college-level classes per high-school student. Once this cap of “covered” hours is reached, students could take additional dual enrollment classes by either A) paying out of pocket, or B) charging the additional dual enrollment hours against their future HOPE Grant or HOPE Scholarship.

To explain this second point, let’s say a high-school student has participated in dual enrollment since her junior year. By the time she reaches the spring semester of her senior year, she has taken 30 semester hours of classes at Georgia State University, all of which have been paid for by the Georgia Dual Enrollment Program. Now, she wants to take an additional 12 semester hours of classes at GSU. Under HB 444, she could either pay for those classes herself, or she could have them paid for by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC), in which case the 12 semester hours would be deducted from the maximum credit hours allowed to her under the HOPE program.

The caps on the HOPE Scholarship are a maximum of 127 semester hours or 190 quarter hours. This bill wouldn’t change those caps.

In our example above, the student taking an additional 12 semester hours at GSU could have those classes paid for by GSFC, applying them toward her HOPE allotment. If she goes on to receive a HOPE Scholarship, she would then have 115 semester hours remaining of HOPE Scholarship eligibility.

I contacted a legislative relations staff member with GSFC, who said it’s his interpretation that if a student exceeded the dual enrollment coverage limit, had additional dual enrollment classes paid for through GSFC, and didn’t end up receiving a HOPE Scholarship, they wouldn’t be required to reimburse the money to the state.

As with any legislation, changes to the bill are likely as it works its way through the legislative process.

My opinion? This is a good and necessary bill, crafted in response to an audit of the dual enrollment program that found explosive growth and spending, as well as some abuse of the program. Dual enrollment students taking one or two classes per semester at a college or university won’t bump into the 30-hour cap. Those who do reach the cap can still take additional classes without paying out of pocket by tapping into their future HOPE award.

The purpose of this bill is to keep the Dual Enrollment Program — and the HOPE program — solvent, and that’s crucial to Georgia’s gifted students.

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Saturday morning classes in Gwinnett for elementary students

February 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education is hosting another round of its Saturday Exploration Program next month.

These Saturday morning classes cover a variety of topics, from math and science to history and performing arts. They are primarily for students in grades 2 to 5, though one class (CSI Detectives) is open to 1st grade students as well.

Classes will meet March 2 through March 23 and will be offered at three campuses:

  • Bethesda Elementary School in Lawrenceville
  • Chesney Elementary School in Duluth
  • Partee Elementary School in Snellville

Cost to enroll is $50 for GAGE members, $75 for non-members.

Registration deadline is this Friday, Feb. 22.

Categories: Enrichment