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Effectiveness in the North Gwinnett Cluster


Welcome to Effectiveness in the North Gwinnett Cluster!

Talk with anyone in the North Gwinnett Cluster, and you’ll find that Effectiveness is not just on display; it’s a way of life and everyday practice. “We are North” means many things across this diverse cluster: family, stability, growth, community, giving back, and most importantly– success.Amber Vallenger stands with her Kindergarten class

Great communities make great schools, and Suwanee Elementary helps students start their educational journey on the right foot before day one. Kindergarten teachers in this community-minded school, like Amber Vallenger, believe that the long-standing kindergarten camp helps acclimate incoming students to their new routines. Before the bell rings on the first day of school, these new students get to tour the building, meet all the kindergarten teachers, imagine on the playground, learn bus safety, and discover the connection between community, home, and school.   

“The [students] that come [to kindergarten camp] feel more comfortable on the first day,” Vallenger says. “I love North Gwinnett; we just try to make it a very engaging and fun time for students. We’re trying to help them feel welcome in our school.”

When you ponder how to creatively illustrate Effectiveness and how it is woven throughout the North Gwinnett Cluster, one thing becomes clear: support = success. Join North Gwinnett HS senior Emma on her first day of fifth grade at Level Creek Elementary, or rather, her first day in Mr. Greg Singleton’s 5th grade class to examine the teaching profession. As a two-year participant in the “Teaching as a Profession” course, Emma brings her previous experience with kindergarten students into this new school year. Of the proficiencies she’ll be utilizing, some of the most important are effectiveness, adaptability, and respect. Respect for teachers and all they do, when teaching a class and in their work behind the scenes, and respect for children in where they are in their lives, and in how they view the world.

When thinking about this upcoming year, Emma says, “I think it’s a really cool experience. I’m growing with [the 5th graders] throughout the year, they’ll have a big change and I’m going to have a big change.”

Emma and Mr. SingletonWhen Emma graduates in the spring of 2024, she’ll carry these classroom experiences with her, knowing that she can use them to help future generations. This enthusiasm matches that of Mr. Singleton who volunteers for the “Teaching as a Profession” course every year and has been doing so for seven years now. As a North Gwinnett HS graduate and teacher with 24 years of classroom experience, he looks forward to helping course participants out of their comfort zones and into conditions they may face if they choose to teach.

“I knew North Gwinnett was where I wanted to come back to after getting my teaching degree,” Singleton adds. “Here in [North Gwinnett], the community is everything; it’s a family; we support students and push them to be successful not only in school but outside in life.”

North Gwinnett HS Principal Nathan Ballantine believes that one of the facts that makes the North Gwinnett Cluster special is the number of teachers who start their careers in the cluster and retire in the cluster. In the North Gwinnett cluster, Effectiveness means support, and we know that support = success. Teachers are empowered to feel stable in their schools, and they can see the success in their work through their students, and in the ultimate celebration of the entire cluster and the community–graduation.   

“I think that when we say the mantra, ‘We are North’, that’s exactly what that means,” says Mr. Ballentine. “It’s the pride that [our students] have of themselves, their families, and what our school community represents.” 

Learn more about Our Blueprint for the Future and Effectiveness, and join us in September when we explore Adaptability with our Collins Hill and Grayson Clusters.