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Changes coming to Forsyth County Schools in 2015-16

SOUTH FORSYTH — One of Vickery Creek Middle School’s new teachers is really not so new to the campus.

Melissa Royer, who will begin her first year at Forsyth County Schools on Thursday as a sixth-grade English and reading teacher, attended the school.

The county native then graduated from South Forsyth High in 2007 before earning a degree in international studies from Georgia Southern University in 2010.

By the time she landed her job at Vickery Creek, she added teaching English in Romania through the Peace Corps, a master’s degree in education from the University of Maryland, teaching ESOL classes in another public school system and even substituting at Vickery Creek to her resume.

“I love [middle school students’] sense of humor,” Royer said. “The coupling of pedagogy with their social development and how they go hand in hand. They’re not quite at the beginning but not quite where they want to be, but they’re continuously developing and challenging themselves.”

Royer is not the only face to the district this school year.

With the start of school comes new classes, teachers and information that anyone involved in the school system should know.


Construction, traffic routes


Traffic at schools where construction is in full swing will be in the spotlight, especially for the first few days of school while parents, students and teachers figure out new routes and where construction has blocked off areas of campuses.

“North [Forsyth High] and South [Forsyth High schools] have it mapped out on their websites for new drop-offs and traffic-flow patterns,” said Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for the system.

North has videos for both parents and students, a campus map with traffic patterns and a construction video created by the Forsyth County News.

South also has a video that explains how the school can be accessed by parents and students and what areas are off-limits.

“For students who park at Creekside, the steps will empty to a path that flows toward West Hall and East Hall,” according to South’s website. “The West path will take students toward the main parking lot, and the East path will take them toward the back of East Hall. Students are routed in such a way that will keep them clear of the construction area.

“Construction traffic will be halted during arrival and dismissal, and an administrator will be stationed at the crossing.”

There is also a link to an interactive Google map for South’s campus.

Email with any concerns or questions about South’s traffic or construction.

Forsyth Central High also has altered drop-off points this year, for which a map can be found on its website. This point will be on Elm Street, which is where the new entrance will be once construction is completed.

Work at these schools, as well as a number of others, will last all year, Caracciolo said. Once external construction is completed, renovations will begin to the inside of the buildings.


New principals


Traffic routes and teachers are not the only facets changed in schools this year.

A handful of schools will see a new leader represent them, including;

* South Forsyth High: Laura Wilson (former assistant principal)

* North Forsyth High: Jeff Cheney (former principal at South)

* Liberty Middle: Cheryl Riddle (former assistant principal at Little Mill Middle)

* Vickery Creek Middle: Drew Hayes (former assistant principal at Riverwatch)

* Shiloh Point Elementary: Derrick Hershey (former assistant principal at Vickery Creek Elementary)




Dates have both been added to and taken away from the 2015-16 school calendar.

A new one-week fall break will take place Sept. 28-Oct. 2.

To retain the 180-day school year, there will be no inclement weather days built into the calendar.

Any day canceled due to snow or weather issues will be an online learning day, where students will be expected to complete assignments through the school system’s itslearning portal.


Student Learning Objectives


Students will take fewer tests this school year due to a reduction of Student Learning Objectives the schools are required by the state to administer.

Non-Race to the Top school districts — including Forsyth County — will administer just one SLO, where they previously administered up to six.

If teachers in one of these districts teach a Milestones course — the new state standardized tests — then they are not required to give any SLOs.

“I have always believed that we test out students too much,” State Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement. “Eliminating some of the SLOs is a step toward reducing the overall number of tests given to students, which will give our teachers more time for instruction and help our students focus on learning instead of testing. This change is another step toward a more responsible accountability model.”

Teachers in Race to the Top school districts — including Gainesville City and Hall, Cherokee and Gwinnett County school systems — will be required to administer two SLOs.

The reduction in these assessments will lessen the financial and human resources burden on all districts, according to the Georgia Department of Education.


New schools


While no new schools will open their doors in the county this year, three are being built.

The Board of Education will redistrict areas of south Forsyth this fall to fill classrooms for Brandywine Elementary and DeSana Middle schools. Both campuses are expected to open in August 2016 for the 2016-17 school year.

They will be located between McFarland Parkway, Union Hill Road and Hwy. 9 in southwest Forsyth.

For more information or questions about the upcoming school year, visit or contact your student’s principal, assistant principals, or school counselor.