Bonus Post- 2017 Congressional Art Competition

If you are here you reside in our 7th Congressional District and you are interested in entering the 2017 Congressional Art Competition. There is some very specific information you need to be aware if you enter. Please check out the guidelines below and contact me via email or Facebook for additional information!

Entries should be delivered to:

75 Langley Drive

Lawrenceville, GA 30046

Additional Information on the 2017 Congressional Art Competition can be viewed at:


Communication: Learning how to ask for help

This week’s featured photo is of Helen, Georgia, a place I am looking forward to visiting sometime soon! According to the city’s website Helen, Georgia is the state’s “third most visited city” ( despite only have 430 residents! Wow! Located in  White County the city is viewed as a little slice of Bavaria or Germany right here in our state. Please comment in the blog comment box below any suggestions of fun things to do for those of us who still haven’t experienced Helen.

Communication: Learning how to ask for help

Have you ever heard the phrase “communication is key” and thought what in the world does that mean? It literally means that communicating is the key to solving most of the problems we face in our daily lives. Check out all of the times communicating can help you solve issues that are plaguing you:

  • Upset or uncomfortable with how your roommate has been treating you? Talk about it!
  • Feeling sick or not like yourself? Talk about it!
  • Need help understanding the terms of your loan? Talk about it!
  • Stressed due to your hours at work? Talk about it!
  • Moving out of your house and not sure what you need to do to keep your security deposit? Talk about it!
  • You need help reaching out to a teacher or professor but you don’t know what to say?Talk about it!!

As you can see solving issues you may be facing really is as simple as doing one simple thing, talking!

Communicating about YOUR Academics: But who I do talk too?

Because there are so many awesome resources put in place to support you sometimes knowing who to talk about certain issues can be confusing for students. Please download and look at the graphic below to learn about all of the great things in place to help YOU succeed. 

Communication Slide

I will break down the resources that are available to you and what you can expect from each resource below 🙂

  1. GAC Counselor– Your GAC professional school counselor is your GO-TO source for all things relating to credits, transcripts, class schedules, and college and career readiness. In addition, anytime you need someone to vent to about how you are feeling, the counselor is your go-to person for that as well. If you are confused about why you are enrolled in a certain course ask your counselor for a phone call. If you would like to see how many credits you have earned and how many you still need to earn to graduate,  ask your counselor for this information. Your counselor can also explain post-secondary processes to you such as preparing for a job interview, writing a resume, applying for college, and how to fill out financial aid. Your counselor LOVES being able to answer your questions and assisting you with finding ways to deal with the curveballs life can throw at you, but we ask that you give your counselor 24-48 hours to respond to all phone calls and emails.
  2. GAC Center Leader- Each of our physical centers has a center leader, the YCA sites have a partnership manager, and the virtual students have a Virtual Manager (me). Your GAC Center Leader is your GO-TO source for assistance connecting with other resources. If you are unsure who to reach out to about an issue (hopefully you won’t be after this blog post 😉 ) reach out to your center leader. If you are having an issue getting a response or support from any other person on this list your center leader is the person you should contact. In addition, your center leader can provide you with additional supports such as helping you pace yourself in your classes and can provide you with additional tools and opportunities to make the most of your experience at GACHS. Your center leader loves to help remove obstacles for you and provide you with resources whenever you are in a bind, but we ask that you give your center leader 24-48 hours to respond to all phone calls and emails.
  3. Edgenuity Teachers– Your Edgenuity teachers are your GO TO source any time you feel as though you need more assistance academically. If you feel like you need one on one tutoring for various concepts, contact your Edgenuity teacher to schedule a blackboard session or attend their virtual study hall. Your Edgenuity teachers can also assist you in providing supplementary materials to assist you in better understanding your coursework. Your teachers LOVE to hear from you, but we ask that you give them 24-48 hours to respond to all phone calls and emails so they can do the best job of creating a personalized plan of support to help you learn.
  4. Edgenuity Success Coach-Your Edgenuity success coach is your GO-TO source for anything related to Edgenuity. If you need an in-depth explanation of how to utilize any Edgenuity resource, talk to your coach! Your coach can also help you figure out the best way to reach a particular Edgenuity teacher and provide you with ideas to help you enhance your learning experience. Your coaches love it when they get to check in with you, but we ask that you give them 24-48 hours to answer any phone calls or emails from you. 
  5. FEV Tutor– Whenever you log onto FEV tutor via the website you will be connected with a tutor who is tasked with helping you in the specific course, unit, and lesson you select. This resource really is incredible and can be used in a multitude of ways. To learn more about FEV tutor please refer to my post on this wonderful tool which features a live session video made by Ms. Kelsea. Anytime you have an issue with FEV tutor, please contact their support team at For larger requests, we ask that you give the folks at FEV tutor 24-48 hours to respond to your phone calls or email.
  6. Other– There are other various support systems in place for groups of students. These include special education services, 504 planning services, ESOL services, graduation coach guidance and support, and the math teachers available through CatchUp Math. If you are interested in learning more about any of these resources please contact your GAC Center Leader and she or he can provide you with additional information 🙂 

Tips for Effective Written Communication

Below read my tried and true tips to ensure that whoever you are attempting to contact can answer any question you may have or provide you with any information you are seeking quickly and effectively.:)

  • Customize your Subject Line– I have seen a lot of my former students use subject lines like “hey” or “help” when writing their teachers or counselor. While whoever you are writing to will still check an email with subject lines like these, they do nothing to increase the effectiveness of your email. In fact, an email with a subject line like this may even be pushed to the bottom of someone’s list because someone else who is customizing their subject line has gotten their attention 🙂 Below are some specific purposes/issues that students commonly need help with and an appropriate custom subject line that would get the attention of those you are sending these emails to 🙂
    • Purpose/Issue: Help on an assignment in a course Custom Subject Line: Assistance on Supply and Demand Graphs in Economics
    • Purpose/Issue: Changing your address or phone number on file Custom Subject Line:  New Address or Phone Number for (First letter of your first name and entire last name)  J. Smith
    • Purpose/issue-Questions about the credits you need to graduate Custom Subject Line: High School credits still needed for (First letter of your first name and entire last name) J. Smith.

Taking the time to customize your subject line provides the person receiving your email with all of the important information to help them solve YOUR issue more quickly. How cool is that? Just by taking a few extra minutes to create a subject line that states what you need you can actually get a quicker response to your question or issue. 

THERE IS ONE EXCEPTION TO CUSTOMIZING YOUR SUBJECT LINE. If you have private information you need to discuss with your teacher or counselor NEVER put this on the subject line. It is actually best to request a phone call for this type of communication. Not sure how to do that? Simple! Title your subject line Sensitive Information Discussion Request. In your email simply ask whoever you need to speak with for a phone call to discuss some private information. 🙂

  • Keep your email brief but be specific The best way to get a quick response to an issue you are having is to be brief in what it is you need. By including a long narrative (story) about what is plaguing you, you are actually hindering the solution process since it will take someone a longer amount of time to read and respond to a long email. Be brief in your email and just like you should be in your subject line, be specific. Instead of saying I need help in math in an email reword the message to read: I need assistance understanding how to work with some of the mathematic formulas in my Advanced Algebra B class. 
  • Be polite- It is very easy to send an email that comes off as rude or impolite especially if you are stressed. Often times we won’t even realize we are sending an email like this because we are writing how we would talk. However, any time you have any sort of written correspondence you need to take extra care to use pleasant phrases in your emails like “please” and “thank you” in order to help make sure you don’t come off as seeming like you are agitated or don’t care. Displaying etiquette in your emails shows the person you are sending your message to that you appreciate their help. This can also assist you in receiving a quicker response than if you sent an email that could be considered rude or snippy. 

Final Remarks

In any relationship, communication is important to keeping everyone on the same page and functioning at peak performance. Your relationship with your school work and with those who care about your academic performance is no different! Giving yourself the best opportunity to quickly solve problems can be boiled down to knowing how to do two things

  1. Knowing the right person to approach to help a particular issue
  2. Knowing how to express the issue you are having in a brief and specific yet polite manner.

I hope that after reading this post you know have a better idea of how to do both of those things, but if not you can always reach out to me for more assistance! My next post will be on managing stress and will post in three weeks after Spring Break on April 12th. See you then 🙂

Sources Used

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Helen, GA Quote-





Life After GACHS: Post-Secondary Planning

Featured Photo: This week’s featured photo is of Perry, Georgia. Perry is where the Georgia state fair is held each year. You can find some of the tastiest food in the state at this fair and you can ride all of your favorite amusement park rides while enjoying beautiful Georgia weather. 

Life after High School

I know it may seem far away for some of you, but it is never too early to start thinking about life after you graduate high school. Some people know immediately what their life’s calling will be after they receive their diploma while others take a little longer when deciding. There are three main categories when it comes to post-secondary planning.

  • Entering the workforce
  • Attending college
  • Joining the Military

Each option comes with benefits and with what could be considered potential drawbacks. Each also comes with a unique set of requirements in order to be successful. Below I will give you an overview of all three as well as provide you with specific resources to assist you in being successful in each 

Earning a Paycheck: Entering the workforce

Some students choose to enter the workforce full-time as soon as they graduate high school. Those who choose to get a job as soon as they graduate may need the money from a steady paycheck to pay for rent, pay for other bills, or feed their families. A student may want the money to help purchase a large ticket item such as a car or a vacation to an exotic beach. 🙂 Whatever the reason is, going directly into the workforce has some powerful benefits which I will list below.

  1. Discovering which jobs or careers you like or dislike: This is important because often times students make the mistake of spending money attending college only to find out that their future job is not what they thought it would be. 
  2. Learning how to work with and cooperate with different types of people: Learning how to work with all types of people is a skill that will serve you well as you move through life. Some people are introverted (shy) and laid back while others are extroverted (outgoing) and are go-getters. Some people are neat and tidy while others are messy and seem to leave their personal things strewn about. It can be challenging to work with someone who does not have the same personality or work style as you, but it is something that you need to learn how to do in life. Entering the workforce gives you experience dealing with all sorts of people and provides you with the opportunity to learn how to handle stressful situations every day you’re on the job. 
  3. Acquiring a skill or trade: Getting a job after graduation offers students the opportunity to learn a skill or trade.  Getting a job in retail will teach a person how to stay organized and how to de-escalate a situation when someone is unhappy. Getting a job in waitressing will teach a person how to multi-task and stay calm under pressure. Getting a job in construction will teach a person how to work as a member of a team and help them learn valuable skills such as how to roof, lay concrete, and build structures. The best part? Every skill or trade learned on the job can be equally as important and helpful in everyday life 🙂

There are also some potential drawbacks to entering the workforce directly after school. These drawbacks include experiencing stress associated with your job and potentially getting stuck at a job you don’t like because you need the money. 

Hitting the Books: Attending College

Attending college is a post-secondary option for students that is beneficial in a multitude of ways. As Mr. Willis pointed out in his live session presentation, people who attend college are more likely to earn more money and less likely to experience unemployment. College has some other benefits as well which are listed below.

  1. Opportunities for travel and cultural experiences– One of my biggest regrets is that I did not take advantage of a study abroad experience in college. Studying abroad is one of the best ways to learn about a place and expand your cultural horizons. You can spend as little as two weeks or as long as a year studying abroad in a different country. It is very important to do your research and speak with members of your college community and family before signing up for a study abroad experience since international travel of any has risks associated with it. 
  2. A new set of friends who share the same interests as you– For those of you who long to leave your small town where everyone seems to know everything about each other, going to college allows you the opportunity to meet a whole new group of people in a brand new environment. These people will come from all over the country and all over the world. While they may have different personalities and a different set of values than you are accustomed to, the people you meet in your classes may end having the same interests as you which makes it easy to make new friends at college. 
  3. School Pride- Being Part of something larger than yourself- Even decades after graduation people still have an immense amount of pride about the schools they attended for their education. Whether this pride shows itself in a love for a sports team (UGA anyone) or by memorizing all of the words of your school song, attending college and developing a connection to the people and place your schooling occurs in is a huge benefit to attending college. You will have something in common with thousands of other people who have walked the campus and halls before you and with the thousands who will do so after you. 

There are a few potential drawbacks to college and these include incurring loans, having to learn how to manage your time, and living with another person or set of people! All of these negatives are small potatoes compared to what it is you gain from attending college. However, each student should consider how all of the above will impact them and have a discussion with their counselor in order to figure out the best choice for them 🙂

Lacing up your Boots: Serving our Country

Joining the U.S Military after high school allows you to earn money while serving your country and provides you with a skill set that you may be able to use after your career in the military comes to an end. Joining the military is not for everyone as it requires physical training and the ability to relocate which can and will take you away from family and friends. The very first thing you should think about doing if you are interested in joining the military is conduct research. You can visit the website for any of the branches you are interested in and find hundreds of jobs. As I mentioned in Mr. Willis’ live session, the best way I have heard the jobs available in the military described is that whatever job you can find in a city- you can find in the military. After you have a list of the jobs you are interested in and you have had a conversation with your school counselor it is time to meet with a recruiter. Your recruiter’s role is similar to that of a school counselor in that they will provide you with resources and information in order to help you make the best decision for yourself. Below read about some of the other benefits the military can provide you with.

  1. Discipline- The military will ingrain in you a sense of discipline so strong that the people you have known your entire life may not recognize you after you complete your basic training or boot camp. Things that once seemed hard to imagine like making your bed or working out will become habits and may even become things that you enjoy.
  2. World Travel- One of the reasons people join the military is that it affords them the opportunity to live in different regions of not only our own country (think Alaska and Hawaii) but in other countries as well. There are military installations all over the world and whether or not you are there as a resident per your military orders or on an assignment seeing the world is inevitable. 
  3. Educational Assistance- There are many resources that the military provides its employees with to help them pay for school. These include schools that work with your schedule as a soldier and resources like the G.I Bill which can assist you in providing funds for the school. It is important that you understand what is required in order to use educational assistance from the military. This is something your recruiter and once you are in the service your career counselor can answer. 

The military has some drawbacks associated with it as well which include being separated from family and friends for long periods of time, high-stress, and some jobs that can be considered dimensional as the skills do not transfer over to the civilian world. Make sure to have a conversation with your school counselor who can better fill you in on what you need to do if the military is something you are interested in. 

What can I do RIGHT NOW to prepare for life after high school?

I am going to be referring to resources mentioned in Mr. Willis’ Live sessions on March 15 during our post-secondary planning Lunch and Learn. Please visit the School Yard or Parent Support page to view this video 🙂

My favorite resource he mentioned to help with college or career readiness planning was the Roadtrip Nation website.  This resource appealed to me because I am busy and I am visual. In a matter of minutes you have TONS of information at your fingertips about careers you are interested in including what education is needed for this job, what the day to day life of someone working in this job is like, and the experience of people who are current leaders in that industry. NOTE: You need to have a College Board account in order to access this site. You can sign up for College bBoard by visiting and signing up for an account. 

Other ideas and tips Mr. Willis mentioned were thinking about participating in internship or externship for school credit, taking a GAP Year, utilizing GA Futures, and participating in MOWR courses. Read below to find out more information on each of these wonderful opportunities.

  • Internships/Externships– Internships and externships are ways you can gain experience in a work field that interests you while also earning school credit. Currently, GACHS is looking into ways to better integrate internships and externships into our curriculum to help better serve all of you- our wonderful students 🙂
  • Gap Year– A gap year is something that is appealing for many graduates. It is a year “off” in between high school and college or work life. Gap years provide those who participate in them opportunities to learn a skill or trade through organizations like Job Corps or the opportunity to travel and volunteer in various countries through organizations like PeaceCorps or Americorps. For more information on what a Gap year is and how you can take advantage of a gap year visit
  •  GA Futures– GA futures is your resource for all things post-secondary in the state of Georgia. This website is where you go to apply for MOWR courses and where you will go to apply for state aid scholarships such as the Hope Scholarship
  • MOWR Courses– MOWR (Move on When Ready) Courses are one of my favorite opportunities for high school students. MOWR refers to allowing high school students to move on to take college courses. If you are interested in taking college courses where you will earn BOTH high school and college credit, talk to your counselor to find out what you need to do 🙂

Final Remarks

No matter what your plans are for life after high school in order to be successful you must prepare! The first step in being adequately prepared involves talking to your counselor. Your school counselor is not only an awesome listener when you are stressed but your counselor can provide you with resources AND schedule you in classes to help prepare you for your future. Please reach out to your counselor with ANY questions you may have about your future aspirations 🙂


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The P Word: Pacing 

Featured Picture: This week’s featured picture is of Marietta, Georgia which is not only older than Atlanta but is also home to one of four physical GACHS centers. In order to learn about some of Marietta’s history, a must when you are in town is a visit to the Historic Trail of Tears.

Pacing and Edgenuity 

Your counselor talks about pacing, your mentor talks about pacing, your teachers talk about pacing, you have probably even heard me talk about pacing, but despite all the buzz you still may be unsure regarding what pacing is and how it affects you. 

Pacing is the term we use when we discuss where you are in your classes vs where you should be in your classes based off of the set end date for your course. There are three categories when it comes to pace: 

BEHIND PACE– You are behind pace when you have completed less work than that you should have completed at the current date 

ON PACE– You are on pace when you have completed the right amount of work relative to what is expected for the date 

AHEAD OF PACE You are ahead of pace when you have completed more work than what is expected of you by that date.  

The Breakdown 

For the majority of students, the end date for your course is the same June 2, 2017. Your pace is determined and starts on the date you were scheduled in courses. Each day your academic snapshot will tell you where you should be in the course based off of the current date. 

If you spend too little time in your courses you will fall behind, if you do exactly what is expected (this can be determined by either checking your assignment calendar or by keeping track of your course completion percentage) you will stay on pace, and if you do more than what is expected you will find yourself ahead of pace. 

Pacing and Book Clubs 

Have you heard of a book club? A book club is a group of people who select a book to read and meet, usually once a month, to discuss all or part of the book. The easiest way for me to break down pacing into a language that is easy to digest is to compare pacing to a book club.  

If you read your book too slowly you won’t finish your book at the same time as everyone else and may find yourself frustrated or feel left out of conversations about the book. 

If you stay on pace with the schedule your book club created you will read what you need to read but you may have something pop up where you suddenly can’t devote as much time to reading (an illness, a family emergency, etc.) and then you may find yourself behind and in a hole you can’t dig yourself out of. 

IF you get too far ahead of yourself and read your book too quickly you may not remember what you read by the time your book club meets :/ 

Think of pacing the same way. If you work through your classes too slowly and do not find a way to adjust your schedule you will more than likely not finish your course which will leave you frustrated. If you do as much work as is required to stay on pace you will be chipping away at your course but if something happens (your computer crashes or you find yourself sick) that causes you to miss some days you may find yourself behind in your courses and you will have to work extra hard to climb out of that hole. If you move too quickly through your courses when it is time to take the final exam or if applicable your milestone you may not remember any of the material you worked hard to finish.

What Should I do then? 

  • Talk it Out 

In order to get the most out of your GACHS experience the VERY FIRST thing you need to do is speak with your counselor either alone or with your parent or guardian and discuss your goals and expectations from your experience with GACHS. Being honest about what you hope to gain and what your limitations might be (such as working full-time) in regards to online work is extremely important to your future success. This will help your counselor come up with the best plan suitable for you and your particular needs.  

While you may not always understand or agree with what your counselor says or suggests it is important to remember that they ONLY have your best interest at heart.  

  • Get to work 

Once you and your counselor have had a discussion about the expectations of both parties and a realistic plan is put in place to help you earn credits, it is time to get to work. I would suggest staying a little bit ahead of pace in your classes in the event something pops up closer to the end of the semester. Just like my quote from last week’s blog post about Abe Lincoln spending the majority of the time he set aside to chop wood sharpening his ax instead of actually chopping wood, preparing for the unexpected is a crucial part of planning. 

Review time management strategies (some of my favorites were mentioned in last week’s blog) and determine what tool is best at keeping you on track. When it comes to working in your courses a set schedule tends to work best, but in the event your work is sporadic due to what you have going on in  your personal life, find a way to meet the minimum required hours to say on pace , an hour per day per course you are enrolled in (see the pacing math section for a numerical breakdown). This may mean using the weekend to get caught up but if you are dedicated to meeting your goals, sometimes sacrifices have to be made.  

  • Reach out 

If after trying to manage your time on your own you are still having trouble fitting school into your schedule ask for a pacing or progress plan. You can see an example of each underneath the descriptions listed below. 

                Pacing Plan– A plan that determines how many activities you must do each day during a five-day period in order to complete your course by a certain date. This plan is best for someone who needs to know how many activities  to do each day to finish their class by a specific date.  

                Progress Plan– A plan that breaks down the percentage in classes based on a semester schedule. This plan is best for the student who knows they cannot devote a whole lot of extra time to their schedule and is more visual. This plan lays out exactly how much progress you must make each day in a five-week period to complete your course by a set date (typically an entire semester). 


Ready for some pacing math??!! Use the content above (hint: the formula to help you answer these questions can be found in the bullet point labeled get to work).


Sally is enrolled in four courses. How many hours does she need to spend a day working in her courses? 


4 courses times one 1 hour per course = 4 

Mike is enrolled in six courses. How many hours does he need to spend a day working in his courses? 


6 courses times one hour per course=6 


How many total hours A WEEK should Sally spend working in her courses? 

20 hours 

Four hours a day X 5 days a week = 20 hours 

What about Mike? 


Six hours a day x 5 days a week=30 hours 


No, this is not the only amount of time they should devote; they should devote more to build themselves a bubble but if this is ABSOLUTELY all the time Sally and Mike can dedicate to their schoolwork they will at least maintain their pace.

How do school breaks factor into pacing?

The school calendar is set into Edgenuity at the beginning of the school year. So, the pacing of the course will not count weekends or school holidays against you. It is only counting the days GACHS requires you to attend school. The GOOD news?? That means if you use weekends and holidays and complete EXTRA lessons, you will move further ahead in your pace. Now, that is something to get excited about! 🙂

Sample Schedules


Sally: Traditional Schedule (Sally devotes about six hours a day to her courses, three in the morning and three in the afternoon during the week).

Sally: Night job schedule (Sally works from 4:00-11:00 three or four days a week so she chips away at her classes in the morning after she wakes up and on the weekends)

Mike: Full-time job schedule (Mike works 9:00-5:00 Monday through Friday so he does his work after dinner during the work week and makes up whatever time he still needs on the weekend)

Mike: New Parent Schedule (Mike is a single parent with a two-month-old baby and the baby needs to be fed every 2-3 hours. Mike does an hour of work here or there when she sleeps but has to devote most of his time to caring for his newborn. He keeps track of the hours he puts in when he can and when he has family over to help out for a few hours on the weekend this is when he gets most of his work done)

Final Remarks

We can give you all the information, tools, and resources to be successful when it comes to pacing and your schoolwork but we can’t give you the willpower to get your work done on the days when you don’t feel like it. The days when you’re too tired from a busy shift at work, the days when you fail two tests and feel like giving up, the days when someone in your family says something to upset you, on those days you still need to find a way to log in and get your work done. If you don’t you have to make that time up or you will fall behind.

We are ALWAYS here to give you a word of encouragement and your counselors are available to listen if you need someone to vent to, but you have to put in the time to be successful and see yourself crossing the stage at the end of your high school career.

Tip of the week: Create an Affirmation 

An affirmation is a statement you write down and say over and over until it becomes true. The thought behind affirmations is that if you say something over and over again and open your mind to that thought becoming a reality you can actually make it happen. I played field hockey in college and on the first day of my senior season every player wrote down their affirmations as the goal or accomplishment they wanted to see themself meet that year.

My Affirmation from my senior season

As you can see, I chose “I dodge every defender I come across and as a result, I score GOALS!” as my personal affirmation. In my mind I pictured myself dodging (which is a field hockey term for avoiding getting the ball stolen or blocked by a member of the opposite team) every defender I came across and going on to dribble down the field and score. My belief in my affirmation and my commitment to saying it over and over and visualizing it in my head before every game helped that vision become more than something written on paper! At the end of the season, I led the team in points and tied for the most goals scored :). More than that because I believed this affirmation could be true for me, I put 100% of my effort into every dodge I made around a defender and I gained confidence in my skills which helped me be the best player I could be that year, which since it was my senior season was the last time I set foot on a field as a NCAA college athlete.

An affirmation for your schoolwork doesn’t have to be complicated. your affirmation can be something as simple as “I will work in my classes for an hour each day” or “I will score an 80 on each final exam for all of my courses.” Once you create your mantra write it down and keep it somewhere where you can always see it. Begin each day reciting your mantra and picturing yourself making what you are saying happen. 


Marietta history

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