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Drive and dedication for District 4 (Gwinnett): Dr. Adrienne Simmons' campaign for school board

When you live it and have tangible experience with it, there's the potential for great things to come from it.

What exactly is it?

When it comes to her candidacy for District 4 (which includes the Parkview, Shiloh, Brookwood, South Gwinnett, and Berkmar clusters) for the Gwinnett County Board of Education (GA), Dr. Adrienne Simmons brings a sound range of attributes which can not only help address areas of concern, but augment a number of positive and productive things taking place in the state's largest public school system (click HERE to visit her website).

During our interview, we cover a wide range of topics, including her ability to view and problem-solve given her extensive range of professional and community vantage points.

She and her family are 10-year residents of the district (along with having 2 children who are students in the system). Through the lenses of family and community, her engagement includes election in the local School Council along with serving as an active member of the PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association).

As a professional with 20-plus years of experience, she has a tremendous grasp on emerging trends and best practices in education via her experience in the classroom (teacher) and instructional coach. With her academic credentials (Masters from Georgia State University and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Clark-Atlanta University), her professional acumen includes drawing connectivity with school leadership, faculty, and staff. Likewise, her experience via the Georgia Department of Education as a program manager (along with serving as a literacy coordinator in an urban school district) accounts for her ability related to research, policy design, and implementation.

Given these inter-related professional and community driven skill sets, her platform has an underlying theme of striking a balance of engagement and strategic planning for effective policy and outcomes for all shareholders (including students, parents, faculty, staff, and administration).

"We have to be intentional about having a culture focused on student achievement and meeting not only their needs, but providing improved support for our teachers and administrators", she notes.

The now-normal (pandemic) sheds light to the fact a number of teachers, administrators, and staff are stretched thin given the growing demands of the classroom and at times, may feel as if their voices aren't fully being heard. Ranging from improved alignment with best practices (i.e. smaller class sizes), changes in the daily structure/schedule (i.e. extending planning), or personnel, including (but not limited to) additional support staff to innovation and improvement to recruiting and retaining highly invested faculty are areas to further discuss and address.

Engagement comes to the forefront with students and parents as well.

A key component is equipping and preparing students to be responsible citizens. Beyond academic achievement, it is ultimately setting a supportive tone; at times, while students from our special needs and high-academic achievers have access to support, at times, students who are in the middle get unintentionally "lost in the shuffle". Learning and achievement have to go beyond the classroom; given her focus on literacy and learning, even essential skills related to communication (i.e. public speaking) are among areas of need, along with enhancing a culture which embraces diversity and respect for all students. Likewise, parental engagement is essential, as their perspectives play a role in additional awareness of community needs.

Dr. Simmons adds, "When we are all in a better space (students, parents, faculty, staff, administration), we can better engage, empower, and support each other".

Another part of the equation is evaluation of funding. Budget review includes evaluating the impact of where funds (from the local, state, and federal level) can be utilized and their potential impact, especially as it relates to student achievement. Addressing questions and providing solutions to how to better utilize funds to holding the board and superintendent accountable are other variables to account for and consider as it relates to the larger success of the district.

When asked what is one key thing the district is doing well, Dr. Simmons commends the solid job of providing professional learning opportunities for educators and leadership overall, as the continuing education components go a tremendous way in augmenting their professional standing. By the same token, continuing to refine the ways to meet the needs of all students, especially those who fall in the grey or "bubble" area (students who fall outside of the special needs and high-performing student populations), is a key area to better address and problem-solve.

Her March 31st (7pm EST) Facebook Live/Watch chat with State Representative Jasmine Clark, along with her April 9th (7pm EST) appearance a the Gwinnett Democratic Women's Forum are upcoming opportunities for those in District 4 to learn more about her candidacy. Her passion and purpose, dedication to student achievement, and ability to view areas of concern through multiple lenses and perspectives given the diversity within the state's largest school system are integral to her platform. Combined with her experience and intentional efforts for engagement, inclusivity, collaborative work, and advocacy, Dr. Adrienne Simmons is preparing to take her level of professional and community leadership and service to a higher level.

Drive and dedication.

This is the work of Dr. Adrienne Simmons, candidate for Gwinnett County Board of Education (District 4).


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