APS Social Workers connect with the community before Day One

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While APS students are savoring the final days of summer vacation, APS social workers are knocking on doors reminding families about the first day of school. They make the rounds every year but this time they are carrying blue and white yard signs and fliers promoting the district’s Day One: Be There back-to-school attendance campaign. Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen announced the initiative during her first board meeting in July.

This week, the district’s 28 social workers are canvassing communities with help from local police, parent liaisons and other volunteers. Working in teams, the groups are visiting area businesses, local boys and girls clubs and neighborhoods. Specific home visits are made to addresses where mail has been returned. The main focus is on school zones for Carver High School, Washington High School and Young Middle School. Denise Revels, Coordinator of Social Work Services, created a plan to ensure a strong presence in communities shown to have higher student absences.

A group of six social workers, with more than 70 years combined experience among them, engaged residents at three different locations before noon on Thursday. At the Villages at Carver Family YMCA they encountered a Pre-K teacher. “I’m ready,” said Antoinette Johnson, who teaches at another YMCA location.

“It’s all about meeting the people wherever they are.” said Louis Childers. He made the transition to APS 22 years ago after working as a Social Worker Officer with the Air Force. His focus has always been children and families even at clinics on bases around the world.

The social workers know they are making an impact, especially in areas that are often forgotten. Emerson Jones has been at APS 28 years, all of them as a social worker. He partnered with a program that delivers lunches to children in an area known for its drug activities. Jones says many in that community were not aware that school resumes August 4. Jones stressed the importance of going into communities. “We really have to build relationships and build trust,” Jones said.

Lisa Jamison has been with APS 14 years. She says nothing beats the personal touch of canvassing neighborhoods like this. “I think it’s effective because it brings us to the community… we are an extension of the schools.”

APS social workers wrap up their canvassing efforts on Friday. The district will partner with local organizations to host registration events Saturday, July 26.  Open houses will take place at all APS schools Friday, August 1.

Day One for Atlanta Public Schools is Monday, August 4. Be There.

July 25, 2014 at 5:12 am Leave a comment

Reconstruction of the new Ralphe J. Bunche Middle School is underway and on target for July 2015 completion

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With a target completion date of July 2015, Bunche Middle School, which began receiving renovations in the fall of 2013, will continue construction during the upcoming school year.

The renovation and facilities team are making great progress. Demolition is complete, the building pad is being prepared for concrete slab and walls are being erected.

The Bunche construction project consists of a partial demolition, renovation and addition. The construction and design team says the main focus is ensuring all spaces can be utilized efficiently. The gym and outdoor play area has been taken down completely and the during renovation the team will expand this space; rebuilding the gym and adding a performing arts wing. Bunche has a variety of fine arts programs including choral music, band, orchestra and dance.

The performing arts wing will include a new auditorium with a full stage, projection booth and will seat more than 450 occupants. There will be lobby space that separates the auditorium from the new gymnasium. The gym will include all new hardwood floors, pull out bleachers, practice courts, main court and will seat approximately 1000 people. The back of the gym will have locker rooms that lead out to a new 400 meter track and football field and an expanded softball field.

Surrounding the athletic fields and the school building will be a beautiful landscaping. Cooper Carry architect and project manager, Bob Just explains that there is a city ordinance in Atlanta that states for every tree you take down you have to produce another one, so the design team decided to use this as an educational opportunity for the students.

“We’re landscaping this site like an arboretum as a teaching school for the kids. There will be rows of different species of trees and as the seasons change the kids will be able to watch rows of tress from once species change colors differently than other rows.”

Bunche was originally built in 1977. Just said that during this time the classroom models that were being utilized no longer work for contemporary schools and will now be updated.

“It was originally built during a time in educational history when the open classroom was being utilized,” said Just. “Once open classrooms were considered not to be working very well, walls were put in and compartmented all of the classrooms into triangular shapes; making a lot of the space unusable and hard to teach in.”

The classroom building is part of the partial demolition and renovation. Classroom configuration was one of the major concerns during the design process. Not only were the shapes of the classrooms  making it hard to teach, they were 30% smaller than the standard classroom size.  The team tore the building down to the concrete structure. There will be brand new exterior and interior finishings which will provide more efficient space. The classrooms will now be APS standard at 750 sq. ft. and separated into pods by grade level. Each pod will have a computer lab and 9 classrooms with smart boards and a technology wall.

The dynamic new school entry way will be a double level courtyard with beautiful windows providing an abundance of natural light, more direct access to parking and a smoother bus and car drop off process. The bus lanes will be expanded to occupy more buses. The upper level will be dedicated for bus drop off and the lower level for car drop off.

Other updates include an all-new cafeteria, a new double level, high volume media center and an increased number of bathrooms.

Bob Just expressed that the construction and design team is focused on making sure the students love and take pride in their new school. “Just like with the North Atlanta High School, we’re trying to create a private place, so that when the kids come to school here; this school doesn’t just look like every other school they’ve seen. So they can say this is my school. It’s different.”

The project is slated for completion in its entirety by July of 2015, with the doors opening for students for the 2015-2016 school year.



July 23, 2014 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

Benjamin E. Mays football players ranked top 100 in the nation participate in national Nike event

Two Benjamin E. Mays football players, Natrez Patrick and Dallas Warmack, both traveled to the Nike headquarters in Oregon in early July to participate in the invite only football camp “The Opening.”

The Opening is a national football camp hosted by Nike for the top 162 high school football players in the nation. Players are selected by Student Sports after film and/or in person evaluations. The camp consists of intense training, coaching and national competition.

After receiving multiple offers from across the nation, Patrick and Warmack have both committed to the schools of their choice before the start of their senior season.

Patrick, a 6-4, 240 defensive lineman is ranked by 247 Sports as the No. 7 weak side defensive end and No.77 overall prospect in the country. He’s known for his great pass rushing ability and is capable of playing the outside linebacker position as well. Patrick has received offers from Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss as well as other top programs. With multiple offers on the table he has chosen to stay in his home state and play for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Warmack is a 6-2, 320 offensive guard and the younger brother of former Alabama All-American and current Tennessee Titan, Chance Warmack. He is ranked as the No. 7 offensive guard in the nation by 247 Sports. With multiple offers on the table including an offer from UGA, he decided to follow his brother’s footsteps and play for the Crimson Tide.

Tough competition is to be expected for the 2014 football season amongst Atlanta teams with a heap of top commits and prospects spread throughout the district. APS Media Day is Wednesday, July 23 at Maynard Jackson High School at 10:00 a.m.

See a list of players with commitments, offers and interest from colleges below:


Aaron Williams- Committed to Univ. of Nebraska


Natrez Patrick- Committed to UGA

Dallas Warmack- Committed to Univ. of Alabama

Aaron Cochran- Committed to Univ. of Louisville

Tyshawn Brown- Central Fla., Ole Miss, Purdue, Indiana

Mason Sims- Hampton, Georgia State

Malik Makey- Middle Tennessee State University

Khalil Brooks- Fordham, Georgia State, Western Kentucky

Charlie Patrick- Army, Western Kentucky, Georgia State

Deparis Carter- Eastern Kentucky

Kelsey Tyler- Eastern Kentucky

Tobias Little (2016)- Clemson, S. Carolina, Georgia Tech

Randercous Davis (2016)- Louisville, Kentucky

Marquez Daniel (2016)- Alabama Statw


Deshawn Walker- UNC Charlotte, Mercer, Georgia State, Indiana, Jacksonville State

Maynard Jackson

Robert Walters- Columbia University, Yale

Keenan Moore- West Georgia, Tennessee State, Fort Valley State

Quintavious Monday (2016)- UGA, Georiga State, UAB, Southern Miss, Louisville

Orenzo Smith (2016)- UGA, Univ. of South Carolina, Louisville, Georgia State and Southern Miss


Marlon Character (2016)

UGA, Ole Miss, Alabama, S. Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia Tech

Jamond Glass

Georgia Tech, UAB, Georgia Southern, Kentucky

Amyr Smith- Bethune Cookman

Keenan Marr- Clemson

Tyri Jones- Middle Tennessee State, Rhodes College, Olaf College

Jaybron Webb- Iowa State, Western Carolina, Wingate, Georgia Tech

Satchel Crawford- Auburn, Furman, Western Kentucky, Elon, Mercer, Western Carolina

Ronquavious Cullins- Tennessee State, Delta State, Middle Tennessee State, East Tennessee State





July 23, 2014 at 6:45 am Leave a comment

Fourth Annual Football Media Day July 23

MEDIA ADVISORY                          JULY 22, 2014
Fourth Annual Football Media Day July 23
ATLANTA – Atlanta Public Schools’ (APS) 4th Annual Football Media Day will take place at 10 a.m.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 in the auditorium at Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School, 801
Glenwood Avenue, S.E., Atlanta, GA 30312.
APS head football coaches and student athletes will discuss off-season conditioning and provide an
overview of their team’s outlook for the upcoming 2014 football season.  The event will also feature
former National Football League (NFL) player Ahmad Carroll, a graduate of Frederick Douglass
High School, as the keynote speaker. Carroll played football and track at Douglass and was awarded a
scholarship to play both sports at the University of Arkansas. He was later drafted by the Green Bay
Packers in 2004 and has played for other NFL teams including the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets.
Later this fall, the following teams will participate in the APS vs. DeKalb Showdown Extravaganza in the
Georgia Dome on Saturday, September 20:
  • 12:00PM- M.L. King Lions @ Carver Panthers (Alumni Night)
  • 3:00PM- Southwest DeKalb Panthers @ Mays Raiders (Alumni Night)
·       6:00PM- McNair Mustangs @ Booker T. Washington Bulldogs - (Booker T. Washington
High School’s 90th Anniversary Celebration and Homecoming)
All home football games will be played at APS’ Grady or Lakewood stadiums. News and sports media
representatives are invited to cover this event.
Football coaches from the following APS schools slated to participate are:
Head Coach
B.E.S.T Academy High School
1890 Donald L. Hollowell Pkwy, NW Atlanta, GA 30318
Joshua Moore
The New Schools at Carver
55 McDonough Blvd., SE
Atlanta, GA 30315
Darren Myles
Frederick Douglass High School
225 Hamilton E. Holmes Drive, NW Atlanta, GA 30318
Rodney Cofield
Henry W. Grady High School
929 Charles Allen Drive, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
Earthwind Moreland
Maynard H. Jackson High School
801 Glenwood Avenue, SE
Atlanta, GA 30312
Eric Williams
KIPP Atlanta Collegiate Charter School
98 Anderson Ave. NW Atlanta, GA 30314
Lester Caldwell
Benjamin E. Mays High School
3450 Benjamin E. Mays Drive, SW Atlanta, GA 30331
Corey Jarvis
North Atlanta High School
4111 Northside Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30327
Douglass Britten
South Atlanta Educational Complex
800 Hutchens Rd., SE
Atlanta, GA 30354
Kevin Hill
D.M. Therrell High School
3099 Panther Trail, SW
Atlanta, GA 30311
Dominic Calloway
Booker T. Washington High School
45 Whitehouse Drive, SW
Atlanta, GA 30314
Rodney Hackney

July 22, 2014 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

Day One: Be There. APS superintendent launches district’s back-to-school attendance campaign during July Board of Education meeting


Newly appointed superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, launched a city-wide attendance campaign during the July Board of Education meeting encouraging parents and students to ‘be there’ for the first day of school, August 4, 2014.  This was Dr. Carstarphen’s first board meeting following her official start with the district earlier this month.

“We’re excited about a message we want students and families to hear loudly and clearly – Day One: Be There.  August 4 is the first day of school in Atlanta Public Schools, and we need every student to be there on the first day and every day after that,” said the superintendent.  “We want the world to know that August 4 is not only the first day of school; it’s the first day of instruction.”

The campaign seeks to break the myth that missing the first day or only a few days of school is normal and doesn’t impact academic achievement.

Embedded image permalink

Superintendent Carstarphen announces the launch of Day One: Be There during the July 2014 board meeting.

As part of the district’s ramp-up to August 4, APS is launching a citywide attendance awareness campaign, called Day One: Be There.

“We’re going to use every neighborhood, partnership and communications channel at our disposal to spread the word about the importance of the first day and every day of school,” said the superintendent.

Below are highlights from the Day One: Be There attendance campaign:

  • APS will partner with the Morehouse School of Medicine to host an immunization/school registration event at its Comprehensive Family Healthcare Center on Saturday, July 26 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Parents will be able to get their children immunized and registered for school. On this same day.
  • Media partner 11 Alive has engaged Chick-fil-A, Dollar General, the Georgia Aquarium, Macy’s, Six Flags and Stone Mountain Park to support the campaign. Students who go to school on August 4 will be entered into a drawing to earn a chance to receive an incentive, which may be a coupon, gift card, school supplies or free admission to a popular local attraction.
  • Districtwide registration will continue through July 28, 2014 and a districtwide open house will take place Friday, August 1.  Parents are encouraged to register and then attend open house to meet their child’s new teacher, principal and support staff.

Look to hear more details about the Day One: Be There campaign as the district gets closer to August 4.  Remember, Day One: Be There.

For a complete list of community back-to-school activities, please visit http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/dayone.

Need to register?  Visit http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/registration for details.

Need free immunizations? Join the district at one of the two events below to receive immunizations for your student.




July 14, 2014 at 7:54 pm Leave a comment

LIVE BLOG: Board of Education Monthly Meeting, July 14, 2014

Thank you for following our live blog of the June 14, 2014 Board of Education  Meeting for Atlanta Public Schools.

View today’s agenda here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public

Watch the Board of Education meeting here:  https://new.livestream.com/accounts/7427971


The public can now follow the Committee of the Whole and Legislative meetings via the LIVESTREAM link above.

REFRESH your browser often for updates.

The meeting will begin soon.  Tonight we will update the live blog with highlights from the Committee of the Whole and Legislative Meetings.  We will blog public comment from the community meeting if time permits.

Tonight marks the first meeting for the district’s newly selected superintendent, Dr. Meria Carstarphen.

Remarks by BOE Chair, Courtney English

In an effort to make our board meetings efficient we will be instituting some changes in preparation for the board meeting and to the actual flow of the meeting itself, some of those changes have already been implemented.


  • As you know, board members will be asked to log on to board docs to read the meeting material prior to the board meeting. In order to ensure efficiency and make the best use of everyone’s time, it is absolutely critical that we take the time to read through the board docs information and submit questions about the consent agenda BEFORE the board meeting for answers.
  • As I shared with you last week, we are working to ensure that there will not be any changes to the agenda after it goes live to the public…all is not perfect but it is our goal including executive session items.
  • Dr. Carstarphen WILL NOT repeat the synopsis of each individual agenda item at the board meeting. She will instead present the entire consent agenda for approval at once with the understanding that board member concerns/questions have been previously addressed.

During the Meeting:
Under your direction (to his colleagues), based on conversations and deliverables from our board retreat on April 29th. We would like the system to move beyond the last minute work, thus our goal should be to acquire as much information for the board prior to the board meeting, and additionally we would like to ensure a better use of your time by becoming more efficient on how we share this information with you and the public.  Here are some of the changes that will assist in our efficiency.

  • You will notice that the agenda now has times. By adding a time frame for a particular section of the agenda will assist in keeping us on track.
  • The entire legislative meeting should last until approximately 7:50 or so.
  • Old/New Business has been removed from the agenda template.
  • We would like to encourage board members to discuss the addition of items with the board chair prior to the agenda setting meeting.
  • You will also note that on the agenda, the executive session will take place after the approval of the consent agenda.  After the executive session the board will resume the COW, report out and adjourn.
  • There will clearer titles.
  • All needed materials will be attached to the agenda
  • During the Legislative meeting, the Superintendent’s comments may only be geared toward agenda items and items that will be voted on.
  • The term CONSENT will replace SUPERINTENDENT REPORT on the Legislative agenda.

Board Norms

  • Every good board has sets of rules developed for how board members will interact with each other and their board’s mission.
  • These rules or norms will form regardless of whether they are effective for the team. In fact, left to develop on their own, some of the ways of interacting and making progress may actually undermine the team’s efforts to succeed.
  • When board members commit to the highest ideals of excellence in school governance, they will improve substantially the overall operation of their school districts and elevate the role public education plays in developing future citizens.
  • APS and the Board is currently in a period of significant change for public education in Atlanta, with expectations for student achievement rising, the need for growth and resources increasingly restricted, the work of our school board never has been more challenging-or critical to the success of our students.
  • In fact, how we govern the district is inextricably linked to school and student performance.
  • The board developed norms under the old board as referenced in Policy BBBA Board Statement of Values.
  • During the April 29, 2014 Board/Superintendent Workshop, the board and superintendent began discussions to update the existing board norms.


Public Comment

We have one speaker for committee of the whole meeting.

Speaker:  Welcome Dr. Carstarphen to Atlanta Public Schools.  Over the weekend I received a lot of phone calls from parents and I was a little disturbed to hear that we were looking to restrict public comments.  We look at the organizational chart and we look above the Board of Education and we see the parents of APS and I think it says a lot that we would restrict that input.  On the heels of 50 years of the Civil Rights movement the last thing I want to hear is the word “restrict” as it relates to public comment.  We are not about disenfranchising our community, we are about including the comments of others as we work through this process together.  I would hope that our conversation would be about inclusion, not restriction.  Let us not restrict the voice of the people.

-End of Committee of the Whole Meeting–


-Community Meeting–



Speaker:  It’s not about the popularity of the Beltline vs the popularity of the children of Atlanta Public Schools.  This is about what this school system is owed.  Somebody needs to speak for the children.  You all have tried but the community needs to speak up for the children of Atlanta. The state has taken 160 million dollars from APS in austerity cuts and we’re talking about $19M?

The second thing I want to talk about is the payment for the transition team.  I appreciate the release of names, but I think you should have paid for the transition out of your budget.  Who pays the cost is the boss.  It’s not enough to say we’re not going to be affected by who gave the money, I haven’t seen anything beyond your assurances that it won’t be the fact.  I think in the future we should be very careful about what we take from outside entities.  That’s what’s gotten APS in trouble over the past few years.

I heard that there is a change underway to change public input at these meetings.  I’m a public official and folks talk bad to me all the time.  You know what I do?  I take it. The folks out here are the public and they are your boss.  It would be wrong to limit public comment.  It would say that we favor efficiency over the public process of civic engagement.

Second speaker asks that inclement weather decisions be made earlier in the school year with a later start time for students to ensure safe transportation to and from school.

Third speaker expresses concern about the lack of specificity in board docs around which textbooks will be purchased for the upcoming school year.

Speaker:  When our cluster groups met with Maria Carstaphen, she asked for a one page write up about our cluster, what we valued, and who we are.

In the Jackson Cluster we value a few key things when it comes to education DIVERSITY, INTEGRATION, ACCOUNTABILITY, ACTION, and EQUITY.  They are all related, and each of those words can have different meanings:


In the Jackson Cluster we have diverisity of curriculum, races, cultures, incomes, points of view, learning and teaching styles, charter/traditional. We have it all, and we want it all because that diversity serves the diversity of kids we have in our cluster.


We value integration. That means continuity of all our diversity. Our children should experience continuity of culture and educational opportunities from the moment they enter public school through graduation.


Honesty, TRUE transparency, openness, and follow through – we don’t like drama or political maneuvers. Tell us about the problems, and tell us how we can work together to fix them. Tell us what you think, and why something is a good idea, and we will do the same. Involve us in the process. We know that we won’t always agree, but if we believe you have a good value-based reason for your decision, we can move on and stay focused on kids.


Get your hands dirty! Respond when there is a problem. Better yet, try to anticipate problems and mitigate them. Action also means, supporting our principals and teachers, by giving them the support to try new things – to get through the day and think toward the future.


This leads us to equity. You know the equity audit is a place to start, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a deep culture of inequity behind it, and everyone knows it. Good teachers and leaders do their time in the low-performing schools, so they can move to higher performing schools. For all of our schools to be great schools, they need to be places where teachers and leaders want to be. If APS teachers and staff don’t want to be at a school why would the community.

Speaker:  I want to officially welcome Dr. Carstarphen to APS.  Additionally, I would like to thank you for the principal we now have at Booker T. Washington High School.  We thank you as a cluster for this choice.  Please do not limit or change the time or number of people who can come and speak at this podium.

Next speaker expresses concern about the agenda item limiting public comment.  Feels that all stakeholders should be able to speak to the board and not limited to what is listed on the agenda.

Speaker:  I want to talk about the equity audit again.  The audit certainly is a beginning.  We need to still look however at the Talented and Gifted programs at schools, number of computers in front of each child…we need to go into our fall strategic planning with the audit in hand.  My children have unfortunately have had the unpleasure of being in 11 public schools in APS with their various inequities.  When we look at who is going to be at the table we must make sure that we include everyone.  Until we make a difference on behalf of all of APS students we will find ourselves here again in 10 years, in 20 years.

Student:  I am a community member, I am a stakeholder.  I hear a lot of terminology about stakeholders and that is being translated as parents. I want to remind the board and audience that there are stakeholders that are invested in the welfare and education of all children.  I am an NPU education chair.  Although my children are adults, my neighbors still vote for SPLOST and other items.  When you think of stakeholders and you are putting your groups together look beyond the parent groups.  Don’t be afraid to bring people to the table.


–Legislative Meeting–

Welcome/Portrait Presentation to New Superintendent

Good evening to everyone here and in our viewing audience. Thank you for joining us for the July 2014 legislative meeting of the Atlanta Board of Education.

Before we discuss the agenda items, I’d like to once again welcome Dr. Carstarphen to Atlanta Public Schools. Today, July 14, 2014, marks her first time participating in a regularly scheduled monthly board meeting.

Therefore, on behalf of the entire Atlanta Board of Education, I’d like to present to Dr. Carstarphen a framed official district portrait to signify her appointment as our new superintendent. Underneath the portrait is an engraved plate with her name – “Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen” – and “2014,” the starting year of her tenure with the school system.

To put her tenure in context, Atlanta Public Schools has been in existence for 142 years. Dr. Carstarphen joins us as our 19th superintendent.

Her portrait will join the portraits of our other superintendents on display in the Atlanta Public Schools Archives & Museum – on the crimson-colored wall entitled “A Legacy of Leadership: Chronicle of Atlanta Public Schools Superintendents.”

Again, we welcome you, Superintendent Carstarphen, and we look forward to working together to inspire some groundbreaking achievements for the students of Atlanta.

Would my colleagues please join the superintendent and me for a group photo to document this moment?

Remembrance of Jean C. Dodd

At this time, I would like to say a few words about our colleague, Emma J. Callahan Dodd, who’s better known to us as Ms. Jean Dodd. Ms. Dodd passed away June 10, 2014. My colleagues and I wish to extend our deepest condolences to her loved ones. Ms. Dodd graduated from APS, taught in APS and served APS as a dedicated board member. Later in this meeting, we will pass a resolution in her honor, but at this time, I ask everyone to join us in a moment of silence to mark Ms. Dodd’s public service in education.

Equity Audit Update

Thank you, everyone.

Let me give the public two short updates – the first is about the equity audit, and the second is about the Beltline TAD (or tax allocation district).

Audit Commission Chair Byron Amos recently convened a meeting to be briefed on the recently released districtwide equity audit. Earlier this calendar year, the school system partnered with independent researchers at Georgia State University to assess equity across all APS schools. The equity audit – all 1400 pages of it — is now available online.

The good news is that the equity audit was something district leaders commissioned. The rationale was that we needed reliable, independent data to confirm or contradict that APS is a system where every learner –

no matter his or her classroom, school or neighborhood – is supported by the best educational resources possible and has the greatest opportunities to learn.

The bad news is that the audit has uncovered some disturbing circumstances across our system.

Here’s a snapshot of the findings.

  • Almost double the number of students who are eligible for special education attend our alternative schools rather than our traditional schools.
  • Districtwide, almost half of our students did not meet proficiency in at least one subject area.
  • Twice the number of students in the north and east regions are identified as gifted when compared to the south and west regions.
  • Approximately 20 percent of our schools do NOT have an active parent-teacher association; and for schools that do have a PTA, the level of participation and support varies widely –

-      From only two members to 800 members

-      From financial contributions of $30 to $172,000.

Maya Angelou put it best: “When you know better, you do better.” And now we have 1,400 pages of knowledge that we need to analyze further and act on with Superintendent Carstarphen and her team. We’ll certainly have ongoing discussions with the community and bring regular updates to the public in the days and weeks ahead.

Superintendent’s Remarks:

Good evening. Thank you to Chairman English, Vice Chair Meister and all of the members of the Atlanta Board of Education for your warm welcome. I’m honored to embark on this journey with you to give our children the best they deserve. Our first day of school is Monday, August 4 – only three weeks away – so we’re getting right down to the work of teaching and learning.

  • Transition, entry

Prior to my start date on July 7, I worked for several weeks with the board; the former superintendent, Erroll Davis; other staff; and the community on a transition that would allow me to begin covering some of the board priorities outlined during its April 2014 retreat. In particular, we focused on filling principal vacancies. As of today, we’ve filled all of our open principal positions by hiring 22 principals out of the approximately 80 principal positions in our non-charter schools. For some perspective, approximately 70 percent of our high school principals (12 out of 17) are newly appointed. As part of our transition work, I’ve been onboarding and sworn in, and the board of education is designing and finalizing the superintendent’s evaluation. We’ve also identified some immediate districtwide and clusterwide areas that need to be addressed – from receiving the equity audit and enhancing our food services to choosing a flexibility option or new operating model for our school district. Earlier today, the board heard a presentation on our flexibility options.

As we wrapped up the transition phase of our efforts and moved to the July 7th entry phase, we started doing more focused work to restructure central office departments, including communications and public engagement; legal; accountability, testing and compliance; human resources; and organizational advancement. In several leadership positions, we announced some new people to the APS team and some familiar faces. We want to make sure that every team and every position in APS serves a sole purpose: to support schools and children.

As part of our entry work, I am working through a 30-60-90-day plan with the entire leadership team to ensure that the big picture and detailed steps are agreed upon and implemented with fidelity. We want to make sure we comprehensively address key areas brought to our attention by board members – areas such as human resources, student achievement, board governance and more. One area that was certainly a board priority is filling teaching vacancies in time for the first day of school. As of today, we’ve filled more than 560 teaching vacancies out of the nearly 3,200 teaching positions in our district. We filled many vacancies with internal candidates, yet approximately 250 teachers will be brand new to Atlanta Public Schools this year. (Last year, 288 brand new teachers joined the system at the beginning of the school year.) Left to be filled are approximately 60 teaching vacancies, with the largest group of vacancies – about 15 – being in the hard-to-fill area of special education. Our goal is to have all of our teachers hired by July 24 in time for them to attend the New Teacher Orientation.

  • APS Day One: Highlights for Back to School

As we count down to the new school year, we’re certainly working on making sure all of our schools have textbooks, desks and teachers. However, the area that I wanted to highlight this evening is about our attendance campaign. We’re excited about a message we want students and families to hear loudly and clearly – Day One: Be There. Again, August 4 is the first day of school in Atlanta Public Schools, and we need every student to be there on the first day and every day after that.

Here’s our challenge: Approximately 5,000 students either don’t show up or are not in class receiving instruction on the first day of school. Too many of our students are not at school on Day One, or they’re in school but sitting in the main office, awaiting their class schedule or still having their paperwork processed. We want the world to know that August 4 is not only the first day of school; it’s the first day of instruction. And a day without instruction might as well be a day absent. The fact is absences hurt achievement. One report traces students’ struggles to master reading in the third grade all the way back to the days they missed in kindergarten. Another study shows that a student’s chances of graduating on time in high school are severely affected by the days missed back in middle school.

We have to break the myth that missing the first day or only a few days of school is normal and doesn’t matter much. It does – for the child who loses learning time and for the entire classroom of children who have to wait as their teacher repeats the material.

Therefore, as part of our ramp-up to August 4, we’re launching a citywide attendance awareness campaign, called Day One: Be There. We’re going to use every neighborhood, partnership and communications channel at our disposal to spread the word about the importance of the first day and every day of school. Let me share three highlights about the attendance campaign:

  1. First, thanks to our partner – 11 Alive – for bringing along Chick-fil-A, Dollar General, the Georgia Aquarium, Macy’s, Six Flags and Stone Mountain Park to support our students in this effort. Because of the generosity of these organizations, students who go to school on August 4 will be entered into a drawing to earn a chance to receive an incentive, which may be a coupon, gift card, school supplies or free admission to a popular local attraction.
  2. Second, we are partnering with the Morehouse School of Medicine to host an immunization/school registration event at its Comprehensive Family Healthcare Center on Saturday, July 26 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Parents will be able to get their children immunized and registered for school. On this same day, I understand that board members will also be promoting Day One: Be There.

Board members, please share your plans with our communications team so that we can help promote everything we as a community are doing to get our children to school on the first day and every day.

  1. Lastly, Friday, August 1, we will hold districtwide registration and open houses at various times at every APS school.

These are just some of the activities taking place for the Day One: Be There campaign. Look to hear more details by watching the news, listening to the robocalls, reading the emails, seeing the yard signs and much, much more. Remember, Day One: Be There.

May everyone enjoy the rest of the summer and prepare for a great school year!

View today’s agenda here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public

Watch the Board of Education meeting here:  https://new.livestream.com/accounts/7427971


July 14, 2014 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment

APS Virtual Academy hits summer record, plans to expand in fall

By: Leslie Rivera, Communications Officer


Students enrolled in Atlanta Public Schools’ Virtual Academy have lived up to the program’s motto of, “Anytime, Anyplace and Space.” This summer 650 middle and high school students are attending classes virtually and earning credit recovery or taking accelerated classes. The ability to log in from any mobile device means students don’t have to miss summer vacations. Some students even travelled abroad and were able to complete their required coursework.

The pilot program started in the summer of 2013 with 15 courses and 192 students. This fall due to demand, 44 courses will be available for the first time including Advanced Placement, honors and world languages.

This summer, the most popular classes were ninth-grade Literature, Algebra, Analytic Geometry and American Literature. All courses were offered at no cost. “Kudos to the superintendent and the board for agreeing to cover costs,” exclaimed Krasandra Holmes, Digital Learning Specialist at APS.  Aleigha Henderson-Rosser, Executive Director of Instructional Technology says similar coursework in other districts can cost up to $500 a semester.

Henderson-Rosser says parents are especially excited about the virtual opportunities. Over 1,000 parents attended orientation sessions over the course of two days to learn more about how the program works. Students received their username and passwords and were counseled on course selection and what it takes to be a successful digital student. Parents at each of the four orientation sessions learned how to support their students online. Attendees recited the chant,”I promise to login every day and complete my assignments” as a reminder of the daily commitment involved.

Student and teacher participation is closely monitored. Statistic tracking allows administrators to see student activity within the course, how long students stay on task and the length of time it takes to complete assignments. Teachers are required to maintain communication logs and conduct collaboration sessions.

APS Administrators pay close attention to see how often teachers log in, whether they respond to discussion and if they leave feedback. Henderson-Rosser and Holmes agree all of these tools are necessary to ensure teachers are present and engaged.

The people behind virtual learning are passionate about the possibilities of a virtual classroom.

“Learning is no longer limited to whoever is in the building,” said Holmes.

And that could allow for an equal playing field for students with less access to Advanced Placement classes or when there is a shortage of teachers in specific disciplines.



July 7, 2014 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

APS on Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Enter your email address to subscribe to Talk Up APS and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11,551 other followers

APS PhotoStream

More Photos


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,551 other followers