Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch is a state-level partnership that seeks to identify high-performing middle grades schools in our state. Georgia is one of 18 states that have qualified to be part of this prestigious National Forum Schools to Watch® program ( This program annually identifies schools across the country that are committed to a journey of excellence centered around the four program domains of academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structures and processes.

Georgia presently has identified 16 schools that meet the criteria of this program. These schools serve as mentors and models for other schools in the state while at the same time continuing their own journey of excellence. Once identified as a School to Watch, each site must apply for re-designation every 3 years in order to remain in the program.

Common Characteristics of Lighthouse Schools to Watch

  • Dynamic, visionary leadership
  • Challenging curriculum for all students
  • Active learning environment
  • Data-driven decision-making resulting in increased academic achievement
  • School data on an upward trajectory
  • Student-centered approach to instruction
  • Equal opportunities for all students
  • Positive, happy, involved students
  • Small learning communities
  • Teams of teachers and students
  • A culture of advocacy in which all students are known and valued
  • High level of faculty commitment
  • Attention to the non-cognitive goals of education
  • Extensive family and community involvement
  • Active business partnerships

Congratulations to our 2019-2022 Lighthouse
Schools to Watch!

New Schools

Ridgeview Charter Middle School
Sandy Springs, Georgia
Mr. Opie Blackwell, Principal
South Forsyth Middle School
Cumming, Georgia
Ms. Sandy Tinsley, Principal

Re-designation One Schools
(3 years in the program)

Liberty Middle School
Cumming, Georgia
Ms. Cheryl Riddle, Principal
Risley Middle School
Brunswick, Georgia
Dr. Lori Joiner, Principal

Re-designation Two Schools
(6 years in the program)

Coastal Middle School
Savannah, Georgia
Ms. Allison Schuster-Jones, Principal
Marietta Sixth Grade Academy
Marietta, Georgia
Mr. Corey Lawson, Principal

Re-designation Four Schools
(12 years in the program)

Lee County Middle School East Campus
Leesburg, Georgia
Ms. Kelli Duke, Principal
Lee County Middle School West Campus
Leesburg, Georgia
Mr. John Savelle, Principal

Re-designation Five School
(15 years in the program)

Rising Starr Middle School
Fayetteville, Georgia
Ms. Nancy Blair, Principal


Camille McElroy

Dr. Vicki Denmark

Dr. Bob Heaberlin

Ms. Barbara Moore

Linda Hopping,

Ms. Elizabeth Fogartie

Dr. John Lounsbury

Dr. Suvess Ricks

Ms. Alice Smith

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