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HSES wins GAESP School Bell Award

High Shoals Elementary School was recently named as one of only ten elementary schools in Georgia to receive a School Bell Award from the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals (GAESP). The school was honored for its highly successful schoolwide enrichment program, which has involved a strategic focus on supporting creativity and higher order thinking – that is: evaluating, creating, and analyzing. 


“Our schoolwide enrichment programs provide opportunities for all learners to engage in personal areas of strength, while supporting faculty members’ opportunities for continued professional growth,” explained Principal Mike Eddy. “Our school’s focus is on developing the ‘whole child’ and the ‘whole educator.’”


High Shoals Elementary is the first school in Oconee County to have 100% of teachers gifted-certified. After establishing that foundation in gifted education, the school utilized a project-based learning approach with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). From engaging in coding activities to having a gradewide trade fair to cap off an economics unit, there are regularly multiple examples of project-based learning at the school. To further support this endeavor, robust and targeted professional learning is offered. And indeed, student achievement has risen after the implementation of this schoolwide enrichment model.


“I congratulate the entire High Shoals Elementary School community on this well-deserved honor,” said Superintendent Jason Branch. “Their collective focus on excellence through project-based learning and a holistic approach to education has fostered supportive, challenging, nurturing learning environments that benefit all students and teachers.”