Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on schools the Georgia LSTW program will be temporarily suspended for the 2020-2021 school year. 

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 (www.middlegradesforum.org). 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 John Savelle, Principal at Lee County Middle School West!

We are proud to join with the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals in congratulating John Savelle, who has been named the 2021 NAESP National Distinguished Principal, representing Georgia’s middle level principals. John has served his entire professional career in the Lee County School System, where he was a special education teacher at the high school, an assistant principal at Lee County Middle School West, and was named principal there in 2014. John has received numerous awards during his distinguished career, and Lee County Middle School West has been designated a Lighthouse School to Watch 5 times, two of which have been under his leadership as principal. Congratulations to John and to Lee County Middle School West!

Congratulations to our 2020-2023 Lighthouse Schools to Watch!

New School

Dawson County Middle School
Dawsonville, Georgia
Dr. Randi Sagona, Principal

Re-Designation 2 Schools
(6 years in the program)

Holcomb Bridge Middle School
Alpharetta, Georgia
Ms. Jennifer Cassidy, Principal
Re-designation 3 School
(9 years in the program)

Waycross Middle School
Waycross, Georgia
Mr. David Hitt, Principal

Re-Designation 5 School
(15 years in the program)

Upson-Lee Middle School
Thomaston, Georgia
Ms. Rhonda Gulley, Principal


Camille McElroy

Dr. Vicki Denmark

Dr. Bob Heaberlin

Ms. Alice Smith

Linda Hopping,

Ms. Elizabeth Fogartie

Dr. Suvess Ricks

Dr. John H. Lounsbury
Founder and Conscience of the Middle School Movement

Dr. John H. Lounsbury, Dean Emeritus at Georgia College and State University, passed away on April 2, 2021 at the age of 96.

John, a longtime resident of Milledgeville, Georgia, was well known throughout the United States and around the world as one of the founders of the middle school movement. He was instrumental in formulating and promoting the middle school philosophy, and his wisdom, passion and enthusiasm were defining trademarks of his work. He was the author of numerous books and publications, a much sought after keynote speaker and consultant, and long-time editor of NMSA’s Middle School Journal.

John was particularly well known and loved in Georgia. His former students at GCSU never lost their connection to him, and his hard work to develop and then serve as Co-Director of the Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch program enabled him to travel to many schools throughout the state to promote the best of what middle schools should be!

Those who knew him loved him for his ever-present smile, his unflagging energy, his ability to remember the names and something about everyone he met, and the fact that he was always positive and found the best in every situation. At the same time, his knowledge and enthusiasm patiently and persistently steered schools toward the full embrace of the middle school philosophy. He always made time to meet and talk with students wherever he went, and they

loved the time he spent with them. His genuine love of the middle school and the people who worked and learned there were among his greatest assets.

While all of us will miss him we will ever forget him. He forever will be a model of the best that we can be, and his words and beliefs will always serve as guides for us as we continue our work and growth as middle school educators.

*To take a personal journey through John’s life, read the newly released book about him. It is entitled: John H. Lounsbury, Middle School Mentor to All, and contains his life’s story as well as reprints of some of his best- known speeches, including his infamous tale “To Kiss A Frog.” It is available on the AMLE website (www.amle.org ).

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