Atlanta Families’ Award for Excellence: Garden Hills Elementary Boasts Two Winners

Teaching first grade inspired Mrs. Barnes to ignite a love for literacy throughout her school.  For the past three years, she has challenged all Garden Hills students to read one million words during the school year. Since her challenge began, each year an average of 40 students have achieved this goal, on every grade level – even kindergarten!

Congratulations Ms. Barnes!

 Mrs. Barnes’ Ready to Read project is recognized as one of this year’s Atlanta Families’ Award for Excellence winners.

With the proceeds from the award, she plans to purchase approximately 300 hardbound books (a mix of fiction and non-fiction) to augment the school’s selection for readers in the lower reading range, in its accelerated reader motivation for reading program.  She also plans to arrange for a rolling cart to house the books so they can be shared more easily. The cart will allow books to be rolled from class to class throughout the day and used by all first graders.

“Over the years I have noticed a need for appropriate reading materials for students who enter first grade below a first-grade reading level,” said Mrs. Barnes.  “It is a project that I would like to implement in all first grade classes at our school.”

Congratulations Ms. Carlson!

Mrs. Barnes began her teaching career through the Urban Alternative Preparation Program at Georgia State University. Since joining the Atlanta Public School system in 2000, she has spent the last ten years teaching first grade at Garden Hills.

This is Katie Carlson’s seventh year of teaching and her second year at Garden Hills.  It was her Learning Gardens project that earned recognition as one of this year’s Atlanta Families’ Award for Excellence winners.

“The mission of the Learning Gardens Project is to help Garden Hills Elementary create, sustain, and use onsite gardens through plant-based learning, field trips, outdoor garden use, and plant activities in the classroom,” said Ms. Carlson.  “In the process, students participate in activities that increase science knowledge, sharpen math skills, spur literacy and support lessons in geography, writing and social studies.”

In her short time working for Atlanta Public Schools, Katie has grown tremendously as an educator. She has participated in multiple professional development opportunities including Junior Great Books, Category 1 International Baccalaureate, and various other early literacy trainings.

Ms. Carlson has worked with The Captain Planet Foundation, PTA, students and staff to create learning gardens at Garden Hills.  For this work, she also has won a two-year grant from the Captain Planet Foundation, various Donors Choose grants and a Target Field Trip grant.

After earning her Bachelor’s degree from Ball State University, Ms. Carlson began her teaching career at Dresden Elementary in DeKalb County Schools, and served as secretary and co-president of the PTA board.  Congratulations to both teachers and the entire Garden Hills family.




October 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment

APS IT Security recognizes National Cyber Security Month with a student poster contest

October 3, 2014 at 6:07 pm Leave a comment

Custodial Appreciation Day

by Britney Morgan, Communications Officer

Toya Roberts has a Big Heart and Humble Spirit

This is the second school year for Toya Roberts, custodian at Burgess-Peterson Elementary.  With a very pleasant and somewhat bashful personality, Mr. Roberts didn’t say much during his interview, but the teachers and staff at Burgess Peterson had plenty to say. The front office personnel, Charlotte Holloway-Brown and Kim Smith, expressed their appreciation for Mr. Roberts— calling him a blessing to their school and commending him for the pride he has in his work. “There are a lot of words I could use to describe him, but the one word that fits is humble. He is such a humble person,” said Brown.

As Mr. Roberts walked through the hallways, it was obvious he had a great relationship with the teachers, staff and students. They all greeted him with hello, thank you, and of course some threw in a few requests as well. Fairly new to the position, he has made quite an impression, and teachers and staff members were quick to praise him as an asset to the school.

“Whatever you need he will get it done,” “he has a great attitude,” “he’s such a humble person” and “he’s great with the kids,” are the compliments that the staff use to describe Mr. Roberts.

He gets to work early and stays late, he’s proactive in his efforts, and he never forgets a request. “He may not get your classroom right then, but he will get to you,” explained another staff member that we passed walking through the halls.

He understands that he too can have a positive impact on the lives of students. He currently mentors a student who attends Burgess-Peterson.

In his spare time, Mr. Roberts plays basketball, shoots pool and jogs. He says that he loves his job because the teachers, staff and students treat him like family. When asked if there was anything else that he would like to share, he simply stated with a huge smile, “Burgess-Peterson is the best school in the Atlanta Public Schools system. “

Principal Robin Robbins shares his sense of pride.  “As we celebrate National Custodian Day, Mr. Roberts is definitely one to be celebrated! What a great asset to our school and school district,” said Robbins.

If you see Mr. Roberts or any other custodian be sure you express your appreciation for all that they do.  They are one of the many important teachers outside the classroom who are helping to prepare our students for college and career success.


Atlanta Public Schools Appreciates Roy Talley 

Roy Talley has been with Atlanta Public Schools for 17 years.  He’s worked at Capital View Elementary, Benjamin E. Mays and is currently the head custodian at Forrest Hill Academy.

He said what he loves most about his job is the children. “Sometimes they come to me for advice,and I gladly give it to them,” said Talley.  “I just want to make sure that I help keep them in a clean environment to learn in.”
Talley’s manager, David Cooper, said that he can always count on him. “Roy has been a trooper during my seven years of managing him. He has been one of the most dedicated and consistent employees I’ve had,” explained Cooper.
Mr. Talley looks forward to coming to work each day and doing a good job. His enthusiasm is evident in his willingness to help outside of his work hours, “Not only does he do a great job of addressing teacher, student and staff needs, but he’s always quick to volunteer and work overtime. Whether it be for different programs at other schools or being a part of the painting team during the summer to help prepare for Day One,” said Cooper.
Even though Mr. Talley puts in additional hours, he does manage to find some free time. He enjoys reading on his down time and is now getting ready to join a book club. When asked if there was anything else that he would like to share he adds: “ I look forward to coming to work each day and doing a good job”.
29 Years and counting-Meet Ruby Walker of Therrell High School 
Celebrating 29 years with one organization speaks volumes about an individual. APS custodian Ruby Walker knows that she is rare and she appreciates the fact that she’s been able to establish a great career in Atlanta Public Schools. She started her career at Douglass High School in the‘80s where she spent 16 years.  Since then she’s worked at four other schools including West ManorElementary, Deerwood Academy, and Benjamin E. Mays.  She is now at D.M. Therrell. 
What she loves most about her job is coming to work, knowing that she is going to see and work with nice people. She says the students treat her with the upmost respect. “They treat me like their mother. Some call me auntie, some call me granny,” explained Walker.  She takes pride in keeping the halls clean and the school presentable. Her daily workload consists of maintaining the cleanliness of the cafeteria and bathrooms, but one thing she takes seriously are the hallways. “I like to be on my hallways every time the bell rings. The kids like to eat candy and junk food, and I just want to make sure the halls stay clean,” said Walker.
Ms. Walker says her faith gives her the strength to continue to get up, go to work, and do a good job every day. In her free time, Ms. Walker likes to travel.  When asked if there is anything else she would like to share, she said “I’d like to thank APS for allowing me to work as long as I have worked.” If you see Ms. Walker or any of our other custodians tell them how much you appreciate them and all that they do.  Our district cannot successfully prepare students for a bright future without them.


October 2, 2014 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

Superintendent Advisory Committees Meeting Notice

OCTOBER 1, 2014

On Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm., individuals representing the Nine (9) Atlanta Public Schools Clusters will convene a meeting in the auditorium of the Center for Learning and Leadership.

At the meeting, the administration will collect the cluster nominations for the Three (3) Superintendent Advisory Committees (Finance, SPLOST, and Special Education); the group will also discuss the options for each cluster, ensuring that community members who applied online are considered in the process of deciding cluster representation.

The administration will take all of the feedback and nominations from the October 1st   meeting and will make a final determination about the committee make-up by Monday, October 6th.

This meeting is open to the public.


Center for Learning and Leadership


130 Trinity Ave, SW

Atlanta, Georgia 30303


October 1, 2014 at 11:39 am Leave a comment

Meet Atlanta Families Award winner Elizabeth Emerson

AFAEE_Emerson_SpringdaleAtlanta Public Schools first grade teacher Elizabeth Emerson was not quite sure what to think when new Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen invited Emerson to join her center stage Thursday afternoon. Moments earlier, Carstarphen surprised Emerson when she announced to the Springdale Park Elementary audience that they were there to celebrate Emerson’s exemplary teaching, a comment that caught the teacher totally off guard and left her befuddled.

The Atlanta Families’ Award for Excellence in Education recognizes the “best of the best” in Atlanta education. By recognizing excellent educators each year, the AFAEE seeks to retain excellent teachers and school leaders, inspire other educators to transform their craft, and increase the public’s awareness of educator and student success across metro Atlanta. Metro area educators receive this award by demonstrating excellence in three areas: raising student achievement, enhancing students’ self-esteem and collaborating with multiple stakeholders for the benefit of students.

Ms. Emerson has been at Springdale Park for five years but she’s been teaching for twelve years. The former lawyer was selected as one of Atlanta’s best educators because her work in the classroom resulted in 100 percent of her students growing on their computer adaptive tests. Her dedication to teaching also helped her students grow 14 percentile points in math and 1.34 years in reading.

As an AFAEE winner, Emerson receives $7,500: she will apply $3,500 to fund a school project on research-based best practices and $1,500 toward training that will help her become even more effective in the classroom. The remaining $2,500 is designated as a personal stipend.

“We are proud of you and your hard work and dedication to your students,” Carstarphen said.  “You and your students worked hard and earned this award for your amazing accomplishments.” Noting that Emerson was the fifth Springdale Park teacher to receive an AFAEE honor, the superintendent added, “We are thrilled about the great things happening here at SPARK.”

September 29, 2014 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

Meet Stephanie Johnson, an Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education Winner

Families_Award_check By Kimberly Willis Green

Stephanie Stephens Johnson, Ed.S, principal of Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School, an International Baccalaureate school, is a recipient of the 2014 Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education.  Johnson is the only principal from Atlanta Public Schools to receive the honor this year.

Proud Principal Stephanie Johnson has earned her title as “turnaround principal” in the state of Georgia. In the past nine years of her 19 years serving as an educator, she led the turnaround of Sequoyah Middle School and Jonesboro High School in Clayton County Public Schools, and is now serving as the “Mission Possible” turnaround principal assigned to Priority Status Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School in Atlanta Public Schools.  Prior to serving in the role of principal, Johnson was appointed to serve as an assistant principal on a turnaround team at Morrow High School in Clayton County Public Schools.  The superintendent later promoted Johnson to a principal’s position after only 10 months. Johnson’s educational experience includes teaching secondary education English Language Arts and serving as a guidance counselor in Mobile County, Ala. and Clayton County, Georgia.  She has been has been recognized for her leadership by the Southern Regional Education Board, Georgia Department of Education, and the GLISI’s Power of 100.

Project: Integration of Agriculture Education and a Community Garden

Johnson said Jackson High’s community members, students, and local business partners have expressed interest for the school to offer an urban Agriscience program.  Johnson will use her award to enhance Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School’s new agriculture education program that was recently added to their curriculum. Once implemented, Jackson will house the only Agriscience program in the district.  “My project for the Atlanta Families’ Awards initiative is to support our goal to create a community roof-top garden (which is a very beautiful field),” said Johnson.  “We are planning to build a greenhouse and a cold storage for flowers and we will need startup resources for the garden.” Thanks to the Atlanta Families’ Award for Excellence in Education, their wishes have been grant.

Congratulations Principal Stephanie Johnson!

September 25, 2014 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

Atlanta Public Schools Honors 16 Students as Inaugural REACH Georgia Scholars on Statewide Signing Day

ATLANTA – As part of a REACH Statewide Signing Day, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen welcomed 16 students into the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Georgia scholarship program for the 2014-2015 school year. The APS REACH scholars, comprised of eighth and ninth grade students from across the district, signed scholarship contracts along with their parents during a ceremony this morning in the presence of their principals.


Atlanta Public Schools Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan (first row, left), Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen (first row, right), Ed.D and Counseling Coordinator Kenya J. Gilliard, Ph.D. (second row left) welcome the inaugural APS REACH Georgia Scholars for the 2014-15 school year, as part of a statewide signing day ceremony. Photo Credit: Scott Clark King, APS

The APS Inaugural REACH Georgia Scholars are:

APS REACH Scholars – Class of 2019 (Eighth-Grade Students)
Quintavious  Yarborough Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School
Bah Mouhamed B.E.S.T. Academy Middle School
Angela Stephens Ralph J. Bunche Middle School
William Flanagan, IV Samuel M. Inman Middle School
Elyjah Williams Martin Luther King Middle School
Emily Weaver Crawford M. Long Middle School
Naafiah Hennie Luther J. Price Middle School
Tori Priest Young Middle School
APS REACH Scholars – Class of 2018 (Ninth-Grade Students)
Jamonte Kearse Carver Early College High School
William Chaney Carver School of Health Science and Research
DaQuesha McKinnon Carver School of The Arts
Kiara Underwood Frederick Douglass High School
Mariah White Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School
Ja’Terious Stokes South Atlanta School of Computer Animation & Design
Cameron Smith Daniel M. Therrell High School
Cameron Bolden Booker T. Washington High School

As a part of the scholarship program, the students signed contracts to maintain a 2.5 grade point average, remain free of crime, drug, and behavior issues and meet with a volunteer mentor until they graduate from high school. Their parents or guardians also signed contracts to support their student’s education. When the REACH scholars graduate from high school, they will receive up to a $10,000 scholarship — $2,500 each year for up to four years to be used at a HOPE eligible Georgia two- or four-year college/university. Many colleges have matched the REACH scholarship and some have doubled the amount to provide scholars with additional resources for their college education.

About the REACH Georgia Scholarship Program

Launched in 2012, the REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) Georgia Scholarship Program is a key program of Governor Nathan Deal’s Complete College Georgia Initiative. The needs-based mentorship and scholarship program is designed to encourage students, starting in middle school, to persist in their educational pursuits. Students are provided with the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school, access college, achieve post-secondary success, and be prepared for the 21st Century workforce.

About Atlanta Public Schools:

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 106 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies, where students are offered rigorous instructional programs that foster success in school and life. For more information, visit

September 25, 2014 at 3:07 pm Leave a comment

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