Spring Essentials 2023
A Message from Dr. Calvin J. Watts
In July 2022, one year after I stepped into the role of Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), our board adopted the district’s first five-year strategic plan, Our Blueprint for the Future. Our plan requires that each leader—from the classroom to the board room—continually monitor and evaluate the implementation of this work, making adjustments as needed.
GCPS has a legacy of performance and innovation that has prevailed for more than two decades and directly contributed to the county’s economic growth. And our diversity—as a school district and in the wider community—is both a fact and a strength. Gwinnett County and GCPS truly reflect the demographic shifts experienced across the country as we’ve become the 7th most diverse county in the nation. With our strategic plan, we have a unique opportunity to become a national model of a high-performing district serving an incredibly diverse student population.
The Blueprint defines our strategic priorities for the next five years in four areas: empathy, equity, effectiveness, and excellence. In the eight short months since the board adopted our strategic plan, we have learned invaluable lessons about the importance of collaboration, communication, and continuous improvement while realizing our plan’s vision. Through our continued efforts to listen to those we serve, we have been able to make mid-year corrections, including more flexibility for teachers in the use of common formative assessments, more full-time assistant principals in schools with the most significant support needs, and more clearly defined or redefined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress.
Already we can see the impact on GCPS’ culture, policies, and practices, such as promoting inclusion and addressing the individual learning needs of each and every student. We have added 40 social workers, provided before- and afterschool care in 26 schools, increased participation in gifted and accelerated coursework, and given students access to more clubs and activities. Included in this publication are examples of our strategic priorities in action across GCPS. These stories present only a few examples of this transformational work, taking place in our schools and district office each day.
To achieve uncommon results, we are committed to monitoring progress, refining strategies based on feedback, and building our capacity for sustainable change. Each January and August, we will provide updates to our board during a work session. This March, we are releasing our KPI dashboard that publicly tracks the progress of our strategic priorities and 12 strategic goals. While there is much work to be done to address the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of each and every student, I am proud of the work we have accomplished in a relatively short period of time. I look forward to our continued collaboration as we build the bridge from empathy to excellence together.
GCPC believes that for students to have the opportunity to achieve personal, academic, developmental, and social success, we need to create positive, safe, and health-promoting learning environments at every level, in every setting, and throughout the school year.
“The program is successful because it is accessible from home and available to everyone, which is directly in line with our Blueprint’s pillar of Equity,” says Steve Frandsen, ITC’s principal.
Published in a printed format twice a year, Essentials focuses on key programs around the district, calendar notes, achievement highlights, and the "essential" news you don't want to miss.