Our Portrait of a Graduate Core Competencies


    Portrait of a graduate logo

    Graduation is an important milestone in the lives of our students that acknowledges the successful completion of 13 years of education. Boston Latin School was established as the first public high school in 1635 in Boston, Massachusetts. The school still operates today, and like other public schools across the country and here in Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), in many ways, public schools operate much the same way after nearly 400 years. 

    However, we know that the demands on students and teachers, the technology, and the changing populations, particularly in GCPS, warrant a fresh look at what it means to graduate school successfully, prepared for college and career. In the winter of 2022, Gwinnett County Public Schools joined forces with Battelle for Kids to make 21st-century learning a reality for all students. Together, our community helped shape the future direction of our schools—through the design of a Portrait of a Graduate. A Portrait of a Graduate is a collective vision that articulates our community’s aspirations for all of our students. The Portrait of a Graduate is the first step in framing a new vision for our school district and helped shape our district’s new strategic plan, Our Blueprint for the Future.

    A Design Team representing all aspects of our community, including students, developed the school district’s Portrait of a Graduate, which we believe positions our young people for successful, satisfying lives and a place in our global economy. Over 160 individuals from all across the county came together to create our Portrait of a Graduate Design Team. The team met four times virtually over the course of four months to complete the work in the spring of 2022.

    Collectively, team members identified the hopes, aspirations, and dreams that our community has for its young people, as well as the skills and mindsets that our children need for success in this rapidly changing and complex world. The Design Team developed six core competencies that articulate our community’s aspirations for all of our students in GCPS. These core competencies serve as a North Star, driving our strategic plan.


    The six GCPS Portrait of a Graduate competencies are detailed below.  

  • Adaptability

    Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Students

    • work effectively in a climate of ambiguity and changing priorities, demonstrating flexibility when acclimating to various roles and situations.
    • respond productively to feedback, praise, setbacks, and criticism; persevering to achieve success despite difficulty, opposition, and/or failure.
    • are confident working independently and with diverse groups through various situations.

  • Collaborative Leadership

    Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Students

    • build relationships with others through trust, compassion, and principled behaviors.
    • have a win-win mindset as they seek and maximize opportunities to actively listen and elicit diverse perspectives and contributions from others, consistently seeking collective commitment from others.
    • take risks and know how to develop, organize, and manage new technologies, initiatives, and/or ventures in order to positively impact their world, crafting inspiring visions and action as they do so.
    • intentionally seek and engage opportunities to work with others towards a common purpose.

  • Resourcefulness

    Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Students

    • innovate - translating original and inventive thinking into viable solutions.
    • demonstrate originality, imagination, and new ways of thinking about things.
    • transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, and relationships to create new or meaningful ideas, methods, or interpretations.
    • transfer and adapt to learning from diverse experiences in order to access, select, and use resources (i.e. technology, media, financial, etc.) efficiently and wisely to achieve success.

  • Empathy

    Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Students

    • exhibit emotional intelligence (EQ) – they are introspective and self-aware. They understand and act on the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of other people.
    • are curious about, value and embrace diverse cultures and unique perspectives through mutual respect and open dialogue.
    • understand, negotiate, and balance diverse views and beliefs as they engage with others.

  • Critical Thinking

    Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Students

    • consistently reflect deeply about their own thinking and the “bigger picture”, integrating feedback from others and the world around them into their evolving understandings.
    • consider the benefits and barriers of evolving technologies as they access those technologies to achieve their purposes.
    • are mindful to analyze, evaluate, and assess solutions for complexity and impact on people and situations as they create or curate workable outcomes.
    • are critical consumers of information.

  • Communication

    Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Students

    • articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts and for a range of purposes and audiences.
    • listen effectively to understand knowledge, values, attitudes, and intentions.