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Schools reflect on successful year
With just 15 minutes left in the school year and the start of summer vacation, allowing students to play board games seemed like the sensible thing to do for Satilla Marsh Elementary teacher Lisa Fauth on Tuesday afternoon.

Fauth, the school's Teacher of the Year, might have viewed it as a relaxing way to conclude what has been a busy year for teachers and students. She and others in the school year, including a school principal and the head of the public school system, feel it's been a good year overall.

"We had started anew this year because of the (newly introduced) Common Core Curriculum and it was challenging," Fauth said, reflecting over the past 10 months.

Tuesday was the last day of school for students in Glynn County's public schools.

"But really, all the teachers tackled it and we got through the year with good results because of that," Fauth added.

The new curriculum was adopted in 2012 by Georgia and 44 other states.

"I'm excited now that we have one year under our belt, helping us prep for next year," she said. "My big thing now is to remind the kids to make sure they read throughout the summer. I always remind them that the library has great programs they can check out, too."

Fauth was pleased with the performance of her students in the district-wide standardized test that was given to first and second graders. Older elementary and middle school students took the Criterion Referenced Competency Test.

The Glynn County School System reported an improvement in the number of students meeting and exceeding the standards, and that seems to ring true at the county's newest school, Risley Middle School in Brunswick.

Risley opened in August 2012.

Principal Lori Joiner is thrilled with more than just test scores.

"As a first year principal here at a new school, I'm extremely proud of the school and the students' accomplishments across the board - academically, athletically and in community support," Joiner said.

She's already looking forward to next school year.

"Being a new school with a new student body, this is really a baseline year so we can know where we stand and where we need to focus to improve for the next several years," Joiner said.

For Glynn County School Superintendent Howard Mann, Joiner's Risley Middle also was a high point this school year, but not just because of its performance. He also sees it's changed the face of southern Brunswick.

"Opening the school on Southport Parkway was certainly a high point. It's a big boost for the south part of the county. The fact that we built the 133,000 square-foot school under budget and on time is a tremendous achievement as well," he said.

"This year has also seen the start of the new Brunswick High School... and as you can well see, the school is moving along at a pace that will certainly mean we'll be in the building on time and hopefully under budget."

The new high school is scheduled to be ready for occupation in January 2014.

Promising preliminary results on standardized tests has been a nice boost, Mann adds, but he's also thankful to see a higher number of graduates for today's ceremonies from Brunswick High School and Glynn Academy. Brunswick High has 344 graduates and Glynn Academy 357.

"I think that our teachers are really, really working hard, and part of the results have been the increased graduation rate at both high schools. And it starts in the early years in elementary and middle school and carries through," he said. It's been very difficult for our teachers to go from the changing standards and end up with Common Core, and it's taken us a while to reload and readjust, but teachers are doing a good job at that."

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com.

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