Skip To Main Content
Gwinnett County Public Schools

March 2024 - Resourcefulness in the Mountain View Cluster

Join us as we examine Resourcefulness in our Mountain View Cluster.

Developing Resourcefulness— the ability to innovate by translating original and incentive thinking into viable solutions— is key to ensuring that Team GCPS students, families, and staff can transfer and adapt to learning from diverse experiences to access, select, and use resources efficiently and wisely to achieve success. Our school communities encourage a “can-do” and “think outside the box” mindset so they can transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, and relationships to create new or meaningful ideas, methods, or interpretations. Each and every student and staff member demonstrate imagination and new ways of thinking about things in their daily lives and activities.

Woodward Mill ES principal with Chairperson Nicole Love Henderson

In the Mountain View Cluster, Resourcefulness is an attribute developed with the support and commitment of staff through informative lessons and projects, community partnerships, and unique opportunities and challenges.

Court is in session at Woodward Mill ES! The school’s 5th grade students were given the unique opportunity to take a field trip to the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Woodward Mill Principal, Dr. Sonya Brown, identified a positive resource and connected her students with gaining a better understanding of GJAC’s daily impact on Gwinnett County’s operations. During the trip, students were introduced to many important figures in our community including judges, lawyers, police officers, and Chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, Nicole Love Hendrickson.

Gwinnett Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson speaking to students from Woodward Mills ES

The visit provided an innovative way to share valuable information with the 5th grade students, and aligned with their experiences in Woodward Mill classrooms, where students are encouraged to use everyday objects and situations to find solutions to problems that help bridge the curriculum content to their everyday lives.

“It is Woodward Mill’s commitment to fulfilling each and every student’s experience with resourceful staff who are dedicated to thinking outside the box that makes opportunities like this and others possible,” Dr. Brown says.

Family from Freeman's Mill ES participating in Super Hero Smash Night

Over at Freeman’s Mill ES, Resourcefulness is in abundance through the special events they host for their diverse range of students and families. Events like Color Run, Superhero Smash, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Night are just a few ways that Freeman’s Mill creates space for families to use each other as resources and learn together. Each event runs smoothly with the cooperation of parents, staff, and community members, showing the way a community can be enriched through partnership. Freeman’s Mill also uses its cluster community by partnering with its cluster high school, Mountain View HS, to mentor its younger students, helping them navigate challenges ahead. In a similar fashion, all students participate in Computer Science, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), and Quest PBL (Project-Based Learning) Specials that prepare them for real-world problem solving and encourage the use of technological resources.

Dyer ES STEAM Night

Dyer ES applies an unusually sweet set of resources at its annual Candy Land STEAM Night. Students use candy materials like marshmallows, gummy candies, and more to build mazes and geodomes— self-supporting structures made up of interlocking hexagons or triangles. In the Early Learning rooms, young minds handle a range of manipulatives to engage their imaginations. Additionally, students used technology to develop code and program robots to complete a task. At the end of the event, attendees were offered a sweet treat to reward their success.

Time to make a sweet shift over to Twin Rivers MS, where students are reveling in the freshness of their new VEX Robotics Team. The team grew from scratch after teacher Andrew Cox applied for a grant from Jackson EMC that helped students to explore STEM learning even further. Roles on the team, which operates in two parts, includes drivers, programmers, and data collectors. Together the two teams made it to the State Championship.

Child exploring during the Early Learning Field Trip

Collaboration is the name of the game at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, nestled almost in between the Seckinger and Mountain View Clusters. However, you won’t be hiking today; no, the game, or games, are interactive, sensory-sensitive, and geared toward families with special needs children aged birth to five.

“We’re providing an avenue for parents to come learn how they can build their child’s knowledge and skills at home through simple activities,” explains Kim Holland, executive director of Early Learning and School Readiness.

Two children playing at the Early Learning Field Trip

The Resourcefulness highlighted at this Early Learning Field Trip features common household objects used as toys and interactive learning activities. From Ziploc bags filled with items like cotton balls and beads, to writing letters and numbers in shaving cream— parents can find and apply helpful and creative ways to engage with their child. 

What’s another great resource found at this event? Student volunteers from McClure Health Science HS received a unique, hands-on experience, and a look at what a future career in occupational or physical therapy holds. Sarina and Hury, seniors and exercise physiology students, say they had fun, learned important lessons about the challenges of encouraging individuals to perform different therapeutic activities, and most importantly, practiced patience.

“We both want to be physical therapists, so [the field trip] was a really good experience,” Sarina shares. “I learned how hard it is to convince someone to do something, especially with kids that may not be willing, and you have to switch your plans and try to get them to engage in the therapy and exercise.”

Ms. Holcombe and student speaking about dual enrollment

Grab your paperwork, permission form, and schedule, we’re heading to Amy Holcombe’s classroom at Mountain View HS to discuss dual enrollment opportunities, but you’ll have to be accepted into college first. Mountain View HS works mainly with Gwinnett Tech, and through its dual enrollment program it’s possible to graduate with 30 hours of college credit, earned in high school. While SAT and ACT scores are not required, PSAT scores, meeting GPA requirements, and taking placement exams are among some of the ways students can be accepted into the program. Students can take courses online and complete assignments on their own time within deadlines, or with adjunct professors from Gwinnett Tech on the high school campus. While students and their families don’t pay for books, applications, or class fees, they receive more than just college credits— experience.     

“The dual enrollment program gives [students] a lot of versatility, and it helps the kids with time management. They grow up at their own pace,” Ms. Holcombe says.

Core course credits transfer well throughout the Georgia State College system, and others, such as psychology or world religion, can count as an elective or humanities credit. Students are encouraged to research what careers interest them and what colleges they want to attend, while considering the expectations of attending college and life after high school.

Ms. Holcombe and student speaking about dual enrollment

“I feel like this is an opportunity that my dad and mom didn’t have, so I can break barriers within my family to go to college earlier, graduate earlier, and graduate with more credits and a higher GPA,” says Jordan, a Mountain View junior. “I’m truly grateful for [the dual enrollment program] and thankful for Mountain View. As a transfer student it’s a blessing to have it here.”

Dual enrollment isn’t the only way to graduate with a head start at Mountain View HS. Join your classmates in Veronica Cross’s engineering classroom and prepare to research, brainstorm, write, cite, draw, calculate, present, and communicate your ideas. In this Foundations of Engineering pathway, part of GCPS’ Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) offerings, the engineering design process is critical and, if you can’t communicate your idea and sell it, it just won’t happen.

Your challenge: build a wind turbine that powers a LED light in a 3D printed “house” or building and collaborate effectively with your team. Ms. Cross explains that students are presented with an assignment: what is the problem to be solved, what are the constraints and criteria? First is the research, then brainstorming while using a decision matrix, or tool that evaluates and prioritizes a list of options with an established list of weighted criteria and then evaluates each option against those criteria. And now, to build the idea. Wait... remember the introduction to wind power, the research on benefits and consequences, and the class discussion. You also must ask yourself, what are your personal beliefs about wind power? Now, take the motor and a light and put it all together.

MVHS student in the engineering pathway

“We teach the engineering design process through a series of projects and now they're putting it into practice, taking ideas, and making the project,” Ms. Cross adds. “Each project has its own set of challenges and issues, and each time, the rigor goes up until they are ready for the next level. [Students] are learning critical thinking, resilience, and problem solving.” 

When you’re ready to move on, the second level of the Foundations of Engineering pathway is building a solar powered car. And the third level capstone event: creating a business, drawing up a blueprint, constructing a scale model building for the business, designing a logo, establishing a marketing portfolio, creating a commercial, estimating costs, and presenting the idea to look for prospective investors, much like the action on “Shark Tank.”

MVHS_Engineering Pathway Teacher and MVHS student Austin

And when you’ve completed the pathway and want to continue with engineering, join the other interns to create various products for customers, while generating funds. Ms. Cross explains that engineering interns produce products for Mountain View HS, the community, and other customers nationwide. Products and services can include everything from printing banners and signs to laser engraving for plaques, mugs, water bottles, containers, and more. The model is self-sustaining, and interns are constantly generating funds to expand the program and acquire new tools and machines. Interns like Mountain View senior Austin feel the Foundations of Engineering pathway and internship opportunities helped them look at everything in a more technical manner and develop leadership skills.

“I’m a very hands-on person and given that I’m able to use my hands and build things, it gives me a lot of freedom and creativity,” Austin says. “A lot of leadership comes out of this [classroom] especially in the internship role. You get help to not only build projects for people, but help with the classes, and we all respect each other.”

MVHS Student Leadership Team puts on an International Night

Respect, ingenuity, and organization are necessary skills in cultivating Resourcefulness for the Student Leadership Team (SLT) at Mountain View HS. When arranging plans for the school’s International Night, SLT members and staff knew it would cost thousands of dollars for art supplies, food, performers, security, and stagehands, and instead used what was available within the school and community. SLT Advisor and teacher Shiloh Arp explains that the school provides some art supplies; SLT uses some of its funds from previous performances to provide the rest while students also bring in their own materials if they have something special in mind. Students use the Fine Arts hallway for available props, instruments, and materials while theater and music technology classes provide sound and lights. Ms. Arp believes the most inspiring part of the night is the parents who provide food and culturally significant items, while the audience's support makes the night special for all involved.

Ms. Arp adds that Resourcefulness in Mountain View HS helps students practice many life skills, from making connections outside of the classroom that help them network later in life to practicing organization, decision-making, and communication.

MVHS Student Leadership Team puts on an International Night

“Allowing students to utilize these skills in a safe environment, with adults to back them up, gives them the courage and aptitude to do many things later in life,” Ms. Arp says. “High school students are truly amazing and prove that hard work and imagination get you pretty far.”

Throughout the Mountain View Cluster, the lesson of Resourcefulness is taking advantage of the life-long skills gained, including leadership, partnership, ingenuity, creativity, and opportunity for growth— together.

Loading from Vimeo...

About the Mountain View Cluster

The Mountain View Cluster includes the following schools: