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Education the best gift for Georgia children

Guest commentary

John Barge

John Barge

With the holiday season upon us, most Georgians are thinking about celebrations with family and friends, holiday break and, of course, gifts. This holiday season, I am encouraging Georgia parents and grandparents to give the most important gift you can to your children -- the gift of education.

In the early years of a child's life, this gift involves reading with your children, playing with them and encouraging a love of learning. As they go through school, Georgia's teachers will work hand-in-hand with you to build upon the foundation you have established to prepare your children for success.

The Georgia Department of Education is working to put all students on a pathway to college and careers, no matter what they choose to do after high school graduation. We are supporting teachers in their pursuit of continuous improvement of their craft and uniting business, community and state leaders behind a common goal of improving public education in Georgia. We want to make education work for all Georgians.

As we strive to prepare Georgia's children for college, the work force and life, I encourage families to also think about establishing a strong financial foundation for children to ensure their education can continue after high school graduation. We want every child in Georgia to have the opportunity to achieve their dreams, and in today's competitive, global job market, education is one of the most important tools we can give them.

It's been a busy year with many changes for Georgia's public schools, from the implementation of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards to the continued roll out of the state's new teacher and leader evaluation system. We want to challenge our students and elevate our teaching methods to meet the demands of the 21st century economy. We want to not only test knowledge, but teach students how to apply it in real-world situations.

We are also working hard to get our new College and Career Ready Performance Index ready. The index will let teachers put their focus back on the child in the classroom instead of just worrying about the test -- because there's so much more to accountability than a test score. We want to put the focus back on the children, which will ultimately lead to improved student achievement and more students pursuing their passions in life.

While the thought of saving for a college education can seem overwhelming, remember that you don't have to save the entire amount. The dream of a college education for your children is within reach -- the key is to start early and save regularly. Saving small amounts over time can provide children with the financial foundation they need to supplement scholarships, grants, loans and other financial aid. Even if your child is in high school, any amount you save today will make a difference tomorrow. There are many gifts you can give to a child or loved one, but how many of them can help make that child's dreams come true?

When you open Georgia's Path2College 529 Plan for someone or contribute to an existing Path2College 529 Plan account, you help build a foundation that can shape the dream of higher education and open the door to a world of opportunities. It only takes $25 to open or contribute to an account, and on www.Path2College529.com, gift givers can simply click on Give a Gift and start making a child's college dreams become reality. It doesn't have to be limited to the holidays: There are certificates for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, birthdays, new babies and many more.

So this holiday season, as you fight the crowds in the stores to find that perfect gift, please remember that while the gift of an education is not something we can wrap up and put under the tree, it is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to the children in our lives. By working together to build strong intellectual and financial foundations, we can help students of all backgrounds and ability levels achieve their dreams.

Dr. John Barge is Georgia's state school superintendent.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 4 months ago

" The Georgia Department of Education is working to put all students on a pathway to college and careers . . . " You go Dr. John! Good luck with the knuckledraggers in the Georgia Legislature.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 4 months ago

I am discomfited by my failure to learn more about Dr. John Barge. Observe his academic and professional pedigree. How fortunate we are to have him oversee the state's educational services. Just think one recent state superintendent is serving a prison sentence for embezzling money for a facelift and tummy tuck.

Dr. John Barge was born and raised in Cobb County, Georgia, graduated from Campbell High School in 1984, and attended Berry College in Rome, Georgia on academic and journalism scholarships where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1988.

John has earned three advanced degrees, a master’s degree and a specialist’s degree from the State University of West Georgia and his doctorate degree in educational leadership from the University of Georgia. In his 22 years in education, Dr. Barge has served as a high school English teacher, middle school Spanish teacher, assistant principal, and principal. He also served as the State Director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education for the Georgia Department of Education. John has been recognized as a STAR teacher in 1996, as Georgia’s Assistant Principal of the Year in 2001, received the Berry College Alumni Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2005, and received the University of West Georgia Alumni Achievement Award in 2012.

Prior to becoming State School Superintendent, John served as the Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction with the Bartow County School System.

John and his wife Loraine, long-time Floyd County residents, have been married for 21 years. They have a 16 year-old daughter who attends public school in Floyd County.

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