February 2012

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Summit Drive Elementary Science Lab is an Animal Farm

Peggy Cooper captures students' interest with hands-on learning.  

     It’s no wonder that students at Summit Drive Elementary School are eager to get to Mrs. Peggy Cooper’s science lab. When they walk into the lab, they are greeted by a menagerie of more than 20 live animals and a multitude of skeletons, seashells, plants, nests, wall murals, hanging planets, and many other sensory-stimulating science manipulatives.

     Every animal in Mrs. Cooper’s room has a student-selected name and an identification card that describes its role in scientific inquiry, such as its habitat, food, behavior, traits, and lifecycle. “I want them to learn lessons here in the lab that tie into their classroom lessons of math, literature, and social studies,” she said.  Among other duties, students are responsible for creating posters and signs that identify the characteristics of each animal.

     Gumdrop is a rescue dwarf rabbit that was left in a box at the church across the street from Summit Drive around Easter. “I feel sure that whoever left him knew that I would take him in and make sure he received a good home,” explained Peggy.

          Other animals under the watchful eyes of the students are Coconut and Flip, a pair of parakeets; Keely, a cockatiel; two guinea pigs named Cream and Sugar Ray (who are expecting babies soon); a white Dumpy tree frog; Calico and Fantail goldfish, hermit crabs, and of course, Iggy, a 16-year-old iguana.

  Animals are an integral part of science lessons at Summit Drive Elementary.

     Iggy has been a member of Mrs. Cooper’s classroom for eight years. He is five feet long and is sometimes seen walking the halls of Summit Drive Elementary. Several years ago, Iggy needed veterinary care for an abscess.  Not only did a parent veterinarian come to the rescue to donate her services, but the students raised enough money to cover Iggy’s medications to help him achieve a full recovery.  Often, parents and students take the animals home during school breaks or on the weekend.

     Mrs. Cooper, a 30-year teaching veteran, works three days a week at Summit Drive Elementary. When she’s not at school, she can be found at her country home raising and training Labrador retrievers. Currently, she and her husband are “parents” to at least 20 dogs at their home in northern Greenville County.






“Take Time to Be Kind” Program Earns State Honor for Greenbrier Elementary


The Tree of Kindness displays positive character traits among students and staff.  

     From kindergarten to fifth grade, students at Greenbrier Elementary School assemble in Kindness Circles for the first few minutes of class. The Kindness Circle is a place where they can share their feelings, discuss issues they are facing, learn how to solve conflicts, and offer a sincere apology to a classmate they have offended.

     Kindness Circles are just one of the innovative tools used by teachers and staff at Greenbrier Elementary to connect with students, and for students to connect with each other. These efforts led to the school’s selection as a 2012 South Carolina School of Character, an award presented by the South Carolina Department of Education.

     The School of Character awards program recognizes schools or districts that demonstrate outstanding school climate and academic performance. Greenbrier Elementary will advance to the national level competition as a state nominee for National School of Character.

     “Greenbrier promotes character education because we believe character education promotes civility and leads to improved academic performance,” said Principal Nicky Andrews. “By learning how to actively Take Time to Be Kind, or TTTBK, whether it is through good manners, random acts of kindness, or helping others when they are struggling, students gain an appreciation of others.”

  Kindergartners describe how they feel when they start their day.

     TTTBK has become the school’s mantra. Every student knows what it means, and some classes have developed chants, music, and dances associated with kindness, such as “T-T-T-B - K…makes a great school day!”

Lydia Pettigrew, the school counselor and creator of TTTBK, encourages the entire student body to show they care. “They understand they can make someone’s day better with kind words, a genuine apology, and encourage each other to strive to do their best,” she said. The school’s main hallway is painted with a huge Tree of Kindness that is adorned with leaves given and received by students and staff.  Names can be added to leaves, which are then placed on the trees to acknowledge those who have exhibited these character traits. Signs located throughout the school ask questions like: Did You TTTBK Today? How Do You TTTBK? and TTTBK Feels Good!

     Character education extends to all aspects of the students’ day. The school’s Kindness Patrols reinforce the importance of character traits at assemblies, class meetings, and on the morning news show. Teachers often infuse character education into daily lessons. For example, students have created cards for the elderly in nursing homes and for military men and women; and they have pledged to read 100 books to acquire book donations for disadvantaged children in the community.

     The Kindness mission spreads beyond the classroom as well. Business partners host family-friendly events that allow families to come together for healthy dinners and to engage in fun activities that focus on positive connections. The School Improvement Council (SIC) sponsors Parent University sessions on relevant parenting topics including bullying, Internet safety, and positive discipline.


National School Counseling Week

February 6-10, 2012

     School counselors are an integral part of the entire school community.  National School Counseling Week, celebrated February 6-10, highlights the tremendous impact school counselors have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.  Through collaboration with parents, teachers, administrators, and students, these professionals are actively engaged in helping students identify their abilities, strengths, interests, and talents.  They focus on positive ways to enhance students' social, educational, and career development, and they work with teachers and other educators to provide resources and support so each student can realize his or her potential. 



Exceptional Staff, Outstanding Accomplishments

     Congratulations to our 26 newly certified National Board Certified Teachers!


Katie Baggott Kindergarten Taylors Elementary
Rebecca Blevins Kindergarten Summit Drive Elementary
Katherine Canterbury Kindergarten Simpsonville Elementary
Catherine Cassell Jewelry Design Fine Arts Center
Kimberly Cheek Second Grade Oakview Elementary
Wesley Dodgens Social Studies Mauldin High
Christina Edgar Mathematics Greer Middle
Kimberly Farmer Third Grade Brushy Creek Elementary
Kimberly John Fourth Grade Lake Forest Elementary
Mary Kroske Kindergarten Mitchell Road Elementary
Kimberly Lane Fourth Grade Mauldin Elementary
Anne Lawrence Math/Science Sevier Middle
Katie Lawton Special Education Southside High Academy
Tracy Legrand Third Grade Chandler Creek Elementary
Jennifer Murphy Fourth Grade Bethel Elementary
James Nalley Science Bryson Middle
Catherine Anne Osborne Kindergarten Rudolph Gordon Elementary
Julie Owen Second Grade Duncan Chapel Elementary
Lezlie Peck Fourth Grade Pelham Road Elementary
Heather Huckabee Petrusick Special Education Washington Center
Stephanie Rees English Berea High
Tatiana Shea English Mauldin High
Melissa Sims Home Economics Woodmont High
Nancy Smith English Language Arts Hughes Middle Academy
Amy Stephens English Eastside High
Kelli Wallen Second Grade Brushy Creek Elementary



Lynn Gibbs, Executive Director of Human Resources  

Lynn Gibbs, Executive Director of HR, Honored by Peers

     Lynn Gibbs was recently presented with the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greenville Society for Human Resources Management (GSHRM). The Lifetime Achievement award recognizes extended achievement in the HR profession over the course of a career.

     Lynn has more than 30 years of experience in human resources. She joined GCS as Director of Classified Personnel and served as Interim Executive Director of HR before being appointed to her current position as HR Executive Director.








Hillcrest Middle's Carla McDaniel honored by VFW.  

Carla McDaniel Named State VFW Teacher of the Year

     Hillcrest Middle School language arts and literature teacher Carla McDaniel has been selected the South Carolina Teacher of the Year by the SC Veterans of Foreign Wars. Carla is a first-year teacher at Hillcrest Middle School, having returned home following service in Atlanta area schools. She has been active at Hillcrest Middle, volunteering her time in many school projects including the Back to School program, Toys for Tots, and other events coordinated in conjunction with the local VFW.





Blythe Academy, Woodmont Middle SICs Selected to State Honor Roll

     The School Improvement Councils of two Greenville County schools have been named to the S.C. School Improvement Council’s (SC-SIC) 2012 Honor Roll for their significant efforts to foster civic engagement in public education.

     The SICs at Blythe Elementary Academy of Languages and Woodmont Middle School will continue in the running for the SC-SIC's annual Dick and Tunky Riley Award for School Improvement Council Excellence. Five finalists from this year’s list of Honor Roll schools will be selected late next month, with one to be named as the winner of the annual Riley Award. The award will be announced at the SC-SIC Annual Conference on Saturday, March 24 in Columbia.


Brushy Creek Elementary, Stone Academy Selected Palmetto’s Finest Schools Award Finalists

     Congratulations to Brushy Creek Elementary and Stone Academy of Communication Arts for their selection as Finalist schools for the 2012 Palmetto’s Finest Schools Awards.  Last fall, 20 South Carolina schools submitted a 20-page application and received an onsite examination visit by a review committee. The finalists are now undergoing a second onsite evaluation.

     The finalist schools will gather in Columbia on Tuesday, March 27, at the Koger Center for the Arts, at 6:30 p.m. to learn which four of them have won the top honors.  The coveted awards, sponsored by the SC Association of School Administrators (SCASA), are presented each year to two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.

     Greenville County Schools boasts 21 Palmetto’s Finest Schools award winners.


Greenville County Schools 2012-13 School Calendar

     The 2012-13 calendar has been released. The 2012-13 school year begins for students on Wednesday, August 22, and ends on Thursday, June 6, 2013. State law requires that school districts begin school no earlier than the third Monday in August, and the calendar must include three makeup days, 180 days for students, and 190 days for teachers.

     2012-13 holidays are: Labor Day, September 3; Election Day, November 6; Thanksgiving Break, November 21-23; Winter Break, December 20- January 1; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 21; Presidents’ Day, February 18; and Spring Break, April 1-5. June 4-6 are half-days for students.



Exciting Grants for Teachers!

ING Run for Something Better National School Awards

      ING is awarding a minimum of 50 $2,500 grants to schools who wish to start or expand an existing running program for K-8th grade students. Programs must be offered at least twice a week to all students who wish to participate. In order to be eligible, the school must have a minimum of 25 students who agree to participate. The program must be conducted for at least 8 weeks and result in a culminating event. For more information and the application, visit  http://naspe.confex.com/naspe/2012/cfp.cgi.  Deadline: Registration – May 15, 2012; Notification – September 2012. 


Siemens “We Can Change the World Challenge

     Siemens is hosting a free, project-based sustainability contest for 9th – 12th grade students. A team of 2-4 students will identify an environmental issue with local, national or global implications and present a solution. Each team should have a team teacher or mentor. 1st prize is $50,000 in scholarships, a $5,000 grant for the teacher’s school, conference attendance, and a prize pack.  For more information, visit http://www.wecanchange.com/high-school/about-challenge/overview/.  Deadline: – March 15, 2012; Notification – May 2012.



Golden Apple Rewards Discount Program 

     The 2011-12 Employee Discount Program books arrived in December. This year’s book features new businesses specifically recommended by YOU!  If you’re on the go and looking for a discount, you can use your smart phone and search www.goldenapplerewards.com  for the complete list of participating vendors. You can also find the discounts on the Employee Portal under Golden Apple Rewards.  Many employees have asked that participating vendors post a sign in their business to remind you to ask for the discount. Our vendor, Eplee & Associates, provides EVERY business with a window decal, so look for the decal and be sure to ask if you don’t see it. 

     Be sure to read your e-bulletin board email on paydays (usually the 15th and 30th)  to find out if there are additional, one-time discount offers not associated with the Golden Apple Rewards Program.


WHO’s NEW – Businesses Recently Added to the Program

  Look for this decal at participating vendors.
  • Butler Garage Door Company

  • Kiddie Academy

  • Sam’s Club

  • Verizon Wireless

  • Wells Fargo


Financial Aid Workshops for Parents

     Parents of high school seniors are invited to attend one of four Financial Aid Workshops to be held in February. All workshops will begin at 6:30 p.m.   Grant information, work study plans, the availability of loans, and other forms of financial aid will be discussed. Experts will be available to go over financial aid applications and forms.  All workshops are open to the general public.


2012 Financial Aid Workshop Dates

Thursday, February 9                 6:30 p.m.                 J. L. Mann High Academy

Thursday, February 16               6:30 p.m.                 Greenville Sr. High Academy

Thursday, February 23               6:30 p.m.                 Woodmont High School



Healthy Living Tips




  • Starting the day with a nutritional breakfast is important for everyone.  A glazed doughnut has nearly the same number of calories as a bowl of high-fiber, multigrain cereal with nonfat Greek yogurt and nutritious blueberries.  Which choice is best for your health?  The cereal choice has about a quarter of the fat – and six times the fiber!  Eat the doughnut and expect to feel hungry in less than two hours, while the yogurt/cereal choice for breakfast will help you eat less all day long.

  • Add a “seated stomach vacuum” at work!  The seated stomach vacuum activates nearly every stomach muscle.  These exercises can be performed while at your desk, while waiting at a stop light, cheering on your favorite team, or while grading papers.  Sit tall in your chair with good posture.  Then simply pull your belly button towards your spine as far as you can.  Hold for five to 10 seconds, increase holding for longer time as you become stronger.

Calendar of Events


February 2012


Monday, February 20

Presidents’ Day Holiday

Schools and Offices Closed


March 2012


Friday, March 9

Makeup Day #3

(Becomes Student Holiday If Not Needed)


Monday, March 12

Makeup Day #2

(Becomes Student Holiday If Not Needed)


April 2012


April 2- 6

Spring Break

Schools and Offices Closed

12-Month Employee Required Leave on April 2 – 3


Monday, April 9

Makeup Day #1

(Becomes Student Holiday If Not Needed)



Earn Extra Credit! Take the Greenville Federal Credit Union Quiz


Take the quiz to win $50 or Biltmore House Tickets

Entries must be received by Friday, February 24 to qualify!


Two names will be drawn from all correct entries for $50 or two tickets to Biltmore House from Greenville Federal Credit Union. Click HERE to submit your entry.  


December 2011 Winners


Kay Allen, kindergarten teacher at Greenview Child Development Center, and Beth Schneider, Attendance Clerk at Berea Elementary, were our lucky winners in December!


Question #1:

Greenbrier Elementary was recently honored as a:

A) School of Character

B) Red Carpet School

C) Blue Ribbon School


Question #2:

The first student attendance day for the 2012-13 school year is: 

A) Monday, July 30

B) Tuesday, July 31

C) Wednesday, August 22


Question #3:

Greenville County Schools recently added how many new National Board Certified teachers? 

A) None

B) 26

C) 100


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