Archive for May, 2010
Record number of APS media centers receive grants from Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries
A record 15 Atlanta Public Schools media centers received $6,000 grants from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries on Friday — by far the most of any school district in the nation. The former first lady made the announcement in Miami. The grants are awarded to help media specialists expand, update and diversify their library book collections. APS represented 8 percent of the 188 school libraries that were selected throughout the nation (earning a total of $1,098,634 in grant money). Last year 10 of the 158 libraries selected were from APS.
According to APS Media Services Coordinator Warren Goetzel, funding for book collections has never been more important. Right now the elementary schools get $15.31 per student per year in state funding, while middle schools and high schools get $13.03 per student per year. “And that’s for all media materials, not just books,” said Goetzel, who made a strong push for his media specialists to apply for the grant this year. ”The average cost of a book is $25. Books become obsolete pretty rapidly these days, and they don’t have the money to update them.” He added that the average usable life of a non-fiction is about five years due to rapid changes in science and technology. “Consider that Pluto’s not a planet anymore,” he said. “Any time there are those changes, you have to discard the book and start over.”
Goetzel was particularly proud of his media specialists for rising to the challenge and taking advantage of this crucial funding opportunity: “External funding is critical to build and maintain balanced book collections. Our media specialists are so dedicated to their staff and students to make sure they have the most updated resources availability.”
Here is the list of the grant-winning APS media centers and their media specialists, after the jump …
Atlanta Public Schools has the most “No Excuses” schools in the state – nine out of a total of 35 schools from 19 districts – as announced today by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. APS schools that attained the “No Excuses” designation for 2010 are: Blalock, Burgess-Peterson Academy, C.W. Hill, Capitol View, East Lake, Garden Hills, Gideons, Whitefoord and KIPP West Atlanta Young Scholars Academy charter school. Capitol View received a double recognition for having two grade levels that qualified for the award. Blalock closed prior to the last school year.
UPDATE: Check out this cool AJC feature.
While we’re basking in the glow of all these memorable high school graduation ceremonies being held at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, it’s fun to read stories like the one in today’s AJC about the group Tree Climbers International‘s debut tree-climbing event at Brown Middle School. Peter “Treeman” Jenkins founded the group a quarter-century ago, and has established the value and importance of tree climbing in the Atlanta community. He also found some willing subjects at Brown Middle.
Eighteen kids from environmental groups at Brown Middle School and Kipp Strive Academy participated in the climb, made possible through an introduction by Robby Astrove, coordinator of Trees Atlanta’s Beltline Arboretum Education Program. The tree selected for the climb, estimated to be 75 years old, was inspected and prepared for climbing by Bartlett Tree Experts.
For some students, it was their first time climbing a tree.
Brown Middle School teacher Jennifer Hall said the technical tree-climbing adventure was the culmination of the students’ environmental efforts. Through their “G-Force” program, students have learned about global warming, started recycling programs, performed cleanup around school property and participated in nature-drawing activities with the Atlanta Audubon Society.
But the rope-and-saddle tree climb was the high point of their year if you ask seventh-grader Victor-Alan Weeks.
“I thought it would be mind-blowing, and when I got up there, it was a big adrenaline rush,” said Weeks, 13. “If it was available to do, I’d like to do it as a hobby.”
Hutchinson Elementary will host its annual Wellness Field Day on Friday. All of the grade levels, including pre-K, along with the educational partners, the PTA and the parent patrol will sponsor a booth with snacks for the students. The students can earn “Hutch Bucks” valued from $1 to $5 to purchase the snacks. (Learn more about Hutchinson’s burgeoning banking skills here.) The Hutch Bucks will be given based on the following:
* Good behavior
* Class work
* Completing homework
* Completing Success For All (SFA) assignments
* Completing Move It Math assignments
* Never Been Absent (NBA)
* Hutchinson Blue and Gold uniforms
* 20 Books Read
Students will be engaged in age-appropriate athletic competition that requires individual and interdependent efforts. All participating students will be awarded.
This portion of the school’s Wellness Field Day is aligned with its concept-based unit (CBU), PG-Math initiative, and the Georgia Performance Standards. This experience gives students the opportunity to use basic math skills that are applicable in their daily lives (adding, subtracting, multiplying and budgeting).
As the head of Forrest Hill Academy, Tricia Rock (pictured at right, with student) is a principal whose job it is to get her students out of her school even sooner than usual. And by measurable data, she’s getting really good and getting her students out – and back into the “home” schools that sent them to Forrest Hill in the first place. That’s because Forrest Hill is an alternative school inside Atlanta Public Schools whose main mission to take students with any number of challenges – usually behavioral – and help them transition back to their home school and hopefully graduate.
The 2009-10 school year marks the second for Principal Rock and the first since APS reassumed complete control over the school, and the change has been remarkable. According to Rock, of the 180 Forrest Hill students who were returned to their home schools in December, only 6 percent were returned to Forrest Hill. Previously, 50 percent of the students were returned. Both of the school’s juniors passed the Georgia High School Graduation Writing Test, while the middle-schoolers enjoyed a 30 percent pass rate on the state writing scores. And perhaps more to the point with Forrest Hill, disciplinary actions decreased by 40 percent from the previous year, Rock said.
UPDATE: Check out even more images in this photo gallery.
We just got this great news from Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta…
In many schools, low levels of parental engagement can pose challenges for students and school staff alike. For that reason, Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta, an award-winning, Atlanta-based dropout prevention organization, makes parental engagement a priority at its 75 partner schools in Atlanta and DeKalb County. When the organization was one of just three programs across the country presented with the chance host a family literacy event in partnership with Reading Is Fundamental and Pitney Bowes, they immediately seized the opportunity.
“We look for every opportunity to involve parents. We believe in building genuine relationships with our parents and empowering them to get more involved in the educations of their children. Having a strong base of support at home is a critical part of kids succeeding in school,” said Patricia Pflum, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Atlanta.
The event was hosted at CIS of Atlanta partner school, Cleveland Avenue Elementary, on May 20 and invitations were extended to the parents and students of CIS partner school Heritage Academy. Both schools are a part of the organization’s Reading Is Fundamental program which provides each student in participating schools with three new books to build their home libraries each year. CIS of Atlanta is the largest Reading Is Fundamental partner in the state of Georgia, distributing more than 22,000 new books to over 6,700 young people annually.
We’re at the midway point of Atlanta Public Schools’ high school graduation week, and our media production staff is hard at work bringing back the most memorable images from the ceremonies being held at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center. While you have before you a sampling of some of these images, we invite you to check out our Media Gallery, which will be updated continually throughout the week. Tuesday brought us images from Crim Open Campus and North Atlanta high school graduations. Wednesday brought images from The New Schools at Carver and Maynard H. Jackson. Thursday brought images from Grady and Mays. Friday brought images from Washington and Douglass. And Saturday brought images from Therrell and South Atlanta. Enjoy!
Thanks to a partnership between Morningside Elementary and Murphy’s, the school was able to receive funds donated from dineouts held at the Virginia-Highlands restaurant between January and April. The dineouts were one Monday each month, with 10 percent of Murphy’s sales given to Seed-n-Feed — the school’s partner for its garden.
In total, Morningside received more than $5,000 from Murphy’s this year for the garden and farm to school programming. This is in addition to the assistance the school receives from Chef Tom Harvey, who holds food tastings for the students. Tom Murphy, owner of Murphy’s, also sits on the board for Seed-n-Feed.
Dineouts will continue to be held to benefit the garden next year. Funds will be used to send a Morningside teacher to the Edible Schoolyard Academy in Berkeley, Calif., and for a greenhouse, in addition to funding the program for the next school year. Morningside is a finalist for the Atlanta Partners for Education’s (APFE) 2010 A+ Awards under the Collaborative category for work with this partner (and others).
It’s graduation week, so we thought we’d share this video presentation introducing you to the valedictorians and salutatorians of our high schools — most of which have been beneficiaries of our High School Transformation Initiative. This project has taken our traditional campuses and divided them into small learning communities with academy leaders under the supervision of one principal, or small schools — each overseen by an individual principal. You’ll learn more about the progress of this initiative, which includes the fall transformation of Grady, Mays and North Atlanta, in the upcoming issue of The Atlanta Educator. For now, enjoy this up-close-and-personal look at our Vals and Sals as they share stories of their own transformation. Big thanks to APS Telecommunications Specialist Luana Slaughter and Media Producation Associate Armon Moore for their work on this presentation.
You can also learn more about our valedictorians by checking out this PDF file profile page.
With some 40 friends and family gathered outside the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center after attending Crim’s graduation ceremonies, Crim Open Campus graduate Jarrell Lofton spoke glowingly of moving forward for college and career in filmmaking. You could sense the relief in his voice; Lofton worked hard throughout his time in Atlanta Public Schools, starting out at D.H. Stanton Elementary and continuing through Kennedy Middle. And now Crim.
“It feels like two big boulders have been lifted off my shoulders,” Lofton said afterward. “All the stress I’ve been through, it was tough. But it was worth it. This is how you get to the next level of your life.”
For Lofton, that means attending Georgia Perimeter College and then the University of Georgia, followed by a career in filmmaking thanks to the inspiration of such blockbuster directors as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and the Hughes brothers — and Spike Lee. “I can’t forget Spike!” he said.
Lofton was especially grateful for his math teacher, Rodney Finkley, who has helped him navigate how to manage his money as he proceeds to college. “He’s been through a lot,” Finkley said. “You wouldn’t know he’s been through anything, because his disposition is so positive.”