Archive for October 28, 2009
As the son of a math teacher, Slater Elementary Principal For a Day Dave Cohen expected to see kids grimacing over equations — and teachers working hard to keep them focused. Instead, he saw students who were eager to answer math questions, guided by teachers who cheered their success.
“There’s a lot of positive energy here,” said Cohen, vice president for sales with the Atlanta Falcons. “It starts with leadership and this is a really good organization that [Principal] Dr. [Selina] Dukes-Walton is running here.”
As regional vice president for sales with the Atlanta Falcons, Cohen knows the value of a strong team — and strong leadership. In his first tour of duty as an APS “principal,” he saw an emphasis on teamwork that extends from the principal’s office to the classrooms.
“At Slater, we have one focus: the students,” said Assistant Principal Wanda Harmon. “We do whatever it takes to promote the success of our students.”
Sometimes promoting academic success means fulfilling student needs that go beyond coursework. Dr. Dukes-Walton showed her acting “principal,” a wardrobe closet filled with warm jackets, pants, belts and other components of the school uniform. The Junior League of Atlanta donated the items, and school administrators carefully monitor growing students, providing resources from the closet when necessary.
“When they walk through our doors, we tell them ‘we’re your parents now,’” Dr. Dukes-Walton said. “They know our expectations and we are consistent.”
This may have been the first time for Luz Borrero (above) — deputy COO, City of Atlanta — as Turner Middle School’s Principal for a Day, but she had plenty of experienced visitors along with her during her visit to the school on Tuesday. That’s because she was welcomed not only by Principal Karen Riggins-Taylor but also members of the Turner Alumni Association. Now, we’re not necessarily talking about Turner Middle graduates, but graduates from when Turner was a high school back in the day.
So there was Turner Alumni Association President Dorothy Thomas-Swann and several other alumni joining in on the walk through the hallways and in the classrooms to see the progress being made at Turner. They came away impressed, as Principal Riggins-Taylor pointed out how Turner is on its way to making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the second consecutive year after failing the previous six years.
Their day started with orientation, followed by a tour of the school’s single-gender structure for its 442 students. Atkinson took Willis and Gay to visit Program for Exceptional Children self-contained classrooms and inclusion classrooms, as well as each wing of the school where sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls and boys are separated.
Following classroom visits, the principals had a meeting with Sylvan Hills’ instructional team to explain the various programs offered by the school, including the Success For All (SFA) reading program. Sylvan Hills’ SFA students are divided up by teams and the students name their teams after colleges. After the meeting, Willis and Gay had an opportunity to co-teach with teachers Johanna Melton, Cedric Peeples, Latanya Bailey and LaShawn Thompson.