Our History

First contact - 1999

In the fall of 1999, Lynn Pennington, a recently hired Education Consultant for SST in Fulton County Schools, called the Georgia Department of Education’s (DOE) SST contact person, Frank Smith, to ask what kind of training or professional support activities might be available for educators leading SSTs in their district.  Mr. Smith invited Ms. Pennington to meet with him to discuss possibilities at the DOE.  It was during their first meeting that they discussed the idea of inviting SST administrators from metropolitan Atlanta area school systems to a meeting to find out their needs and consider forming an SST consortium.

Form a mutual support group - 2000 

Frank Smith wrote an invitational letter and arranged that it be sent to 20 metro school superintendents.  About 25 people turned out for the first meeting on October 19, 2000 and bared their souls about how much help SST needed in their systems.  At the first meeting, Lynn Pennington provided an overview, Frank Smith talked about the “Origin of SST and the New Rule” (2000), and Debbie Rondem of Forsyth County gave an invited presentation on data gathering and its use in SSTs within a system.  The participants enthusiastically agreed that it would be beneficial to continue to meet throughout the year.  In this way, then, in the 2000-2001 school year, the Metro SST Consortium was created and by the end of the year, the number of districts had grown to 22 (Atlanta city, Bartow, Buford city, Carrollton city, Cherokee, Decatur city, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Griffin-Spalding, Gwinnett, Henry, Marietta city, Meriwether, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale and Troup).

Grow the group - 2001

Inexorably, more and more people began coming from farther and farther away.  We met 5 times a year at Fulton County’s Teaching Museum South in Hapeville near the airport.  Attendance was in the dozens and included nearly every type of educator and administrator in the schools.  The agendas were planned in advance and the topics were generated by the needs of the group.  Guest speakers were invited on occasion and often members of the consortium were asked to present on a topic.  At every meeting, participants had an opportunity to share developments in their district and seek information and suggestions from other members, which they eagerly did.  Networking amongst members was a notable strength of this group.

Explore systematic training - 2003

In the summer of 2003, Lynn and Frank approached Dr. Barbara Meyers—a pioneer in supporting the SST concept at Georgia State University-- about developing course work for intensive, systematic training on SST.  The initial goal was to have a partnership between Fulton County Schools and GSU to design and deliver professional learning courses to increase the competency and depth of knowledge of the SST Chairpersons.  As we began our discussions, it occurred to us that this could, in fact, be good for educators with SST responsibilities across the entire state.

Envision certification add-on, approach Professional Standards Commission (PSC) - 2004

We conceived the idea of creating a credential to give SST chairs more credibility and respectability, and hopefully as a way to eventually garner funding for their position from the state.  We proposed the idea to Dr. F.D. Toth, head of PSC.  He was receptive to the idea and invited us to create and submit proposed standards for the coursework for such a credential.  Naturally, the full PSC commission would have the final say.

Create task force, write course standards - 2004

Frank and Lynn, with guidance from the PSC, assembled a committee in order to distill the critical components needed to be an effective SST chair.  Jennifer Schau and Nancy Bailey, both members of the Metro SST Consortium, participated on the SST Standards task force, along with educators from districts around the state, institutions of higher education, the Department of Education, and RESA.  The committee submitted ten proposed standards for an SST Coordinator add-on endorsement to the PSC in November 2004.  At their January 2005 meeting, the PSC adopted the standards verbatim and initiated the required public review process; they gave final approval on June 9, 2005.  Now we needed to find a school system or other entity willing to offer the coursework!

Create an SST Audit Process - 2004-2005

Patrick Kennedy of Clarke County schools called Frank Smith in 2004 to explore the notion of developing an SST audit for his school system.  Frank invited him to broach the idea with, and pick the brains of, the Metro SST consortium members.  The group immediately saw the potential benefit of such a process.  They not only supported Patrick and Cathy McKenzie in their Clarke County audit, but voted to try to adapt it as a rubric for auditing systems in the consortium that would voluntarily undergo it.  Four other districts of comparable size participated with Clarke County in the audit “co-op.” Members from those systems served on a revolving team with each heading a team and producing a full report (Clarke County- Paula Freer, Troup County- Patrick Kennedy, Coweta County- Debbie Rondem, Forsyth County- Iva King).  All concluded that this was an invaluable process for systems.

Present at the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) convention - 2005

At the 2005 NASP national convention in Atlanta, several members from the Metro SST Consortium, along with two GSU faculty members and a PSC staff member presented a workshop entitled, “From Controversy to Credentialing: Georgia’s Pre-Referral Intervention Story.”  This chronicled the development of the Georgia SST process from its rocky beginning in the crucible of Marshall vs. Georgia, through the formation of the Metro SST Consortium to the development of the PSC course standards.  Metro SST Consortium participants presenting included:  Paula Freer, Patrick Kennedy, Lynn Pennington, Jennifer Schau, and Frank Smith.

Grow to statewide - 2006

In early 2006 we realized that we needed to raise this consortium to the next level.  We had people attending from as far away as Dalton, Gainesville, Carrollton, Columbus, Athens, Milledgeville and even Leesburg.  Such obvious demand dictated that it was time to expand from a metro Atlanta entity to a statewide organization.  A core group from the Metro SST Consortium (Frank Smith, Lynn Pennington, Debbie Rondem, and Deborah Crockett) met with Dr. Jim Puckett (Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders [GAEL]) and Dr. Alan Fisher (Deputy Executive Director of GAEL) to explore the proposed expansion and the possibility of help from GAEL.  Subsequently, GAEL created a survey for our members and their colleagues to ‘test the water’ about the needs for, and desire to participate in, a new professional association targeted at SST and the rapidly evolving concept of a Pyramid of Interventions and Response to Intervention (POI/RTI).   A surprising 1000+ educators responded to the GAEL survey expressing very positive response to forming a professional SST association.  On November 14, 2006, the Metro SST Consortium voted to move ahead with incorporation.  GAEL generously agreed to assist as the organizational and fiscal agent for our new entity.

Incorporate as a non-profit - 2007

We knew that we needed a formal structure and that we wanted to be able to lobby for political purposes.  Lynn undertook the actions needed to register us with the Secretary of State’s office.  Thus, we incorporated on February 7, 2007, as the Student Support Team Association for Georgia Educators, Inc. (SSTAGE).  Subsequently, we filed with the IRS as a 501(c)(6) non-profit, a status that allows certain political lobbying activities.

Serve the membership - 2007

We began planning conferences and workshops to meet the diverse needs of the membership.  The survey completed by those 1000+ educators gave us good direction for planning professional learning activities across Georgia.  After each event, we requested feedback from our attendees so we could learn what information and professional learning topics our members needed, as well as where they wanted the activities to occur.  This ongoing process of ‘listening’ to our members has contributed to our continued high turnout at workshops and conferences, nearly all of which have been sellouts.

Awards, promising practices - 2008-2010

As a new organization, we knew that we needed to get some visibility in a hurry, so we created a system of awards and recognitions for what we judged to be “promising practices” around the state.  In keeping with a theatrical theme that played upon our SSTAGE acronym, the Board of Directors initiated annual SSTAGE STAR Awards for Promising Practices.  These were to recognize school systems and schools that demonstrated the best examples of RTI/POI/SST implementation based on our SSTAGE Rubric.  This has been well received.

A history of collaboration with:

Georgia Department of Education

Georgia Association of Education Leaders

Professional Standards Commission

Leaders; statistics; activities offered since incorporation









Professional Learning Events


Activities, Collaborations, and Engagements 

SSTAGE Connections


Professional Learning Events


Activities, Collaborations, and Engagements