Smiles and strides motivate APS Special Education teachers

By Leslie Rivera, Communications Officer 

Inclusive Schools Week is an international event celebrated the first week in December. It’s a time to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of teachers, administrators, students and parents in making their schools more inclusive.

A resolution to be approved by the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education acknowledges, “that each child is unique, learns differently and therefore, learns better if teaching is tailored to their abilities and interests and electronic and information technology is accessible.”

Shontelle Lampkin-Jackson is among those teachers dedicated to providing a supportive and quality education to all students. Lampkin-Jackson is an Autism teacher at Inman Middle School who admits special education found her. She moved to Georgia after serving in the Air Force for six years. She began working with students with severe and intellectual difficulty (SID) and moderate and intellectual difficulty (MOID) as a paraprofessional in Newton County.

Ms. Shontelle Lampkin-Jackson is an Autism teacher at Inman Middle School.

Ms. Shontelle Lampkin-Jackson is an Autism teacher at Inman Middle School.

As a teacher, she worked with MOID students as well as students with an emotional and behavior disability (EBD). After teaching five and a half years, she decided to focus solely on students with autism. “I like the fact that at the end of the day they make me appreciate the little things,” Lampkin-Jackson explains.

Middle school is her ideal place to teach because of the progression she witnesses during that time. She remembers one student who began sixth grade unable to navigate the halls because of his fear of crowds. By eighth grade that student was not only able to walk the halls by himself but he was also able to watch the clock and get to class on time.

Lampkin-Jackson says there is no standard approach to teaching special education but she finds her military background and its focus on structure to be a benefit. “I teach every one of them five different ways. It may be different today than yesterday but some things stay the same, morning routine stays the same,” she explains.

Lampkin-Jackson is married to a middle school social studies teacher. The couple has two sons, ages 9 and 10. She is also working on earning her doctorate degree in administrative teaching and learning.

Inclusive Schools Week is special to her, “My goal is to understand the world we live in… I think it’s important to teach our kids how to be included because they are taught so much how to exclude.”

Monetia Hollie has spent her entire 12 -year teaching career in Special Education. She is currently the lead special education teacher at Burgess-Peterson Elementary School.

Monetia Hollie is the lead Special Education teacher at Burgess-Peterson Elementary School.

Monetia Hollie is the lead Special Education teacher at Burgess-Peterson Elementary School.

Hollie was introduced to education at an early age by her grandmother who owned a daycare. Hollie then learned basic nursing skills and served in a hospital as a member of H.O.S.A.(Health Occupations Students of America). The program allowed students to use their skills at the Gene Stallings Rise Center on the campuses of University of Alabama.

“This school served children with physical disabilities yet mainstreamed an equal percentage of children with ‘typical’ development. The environment was loving and learning was absolutely enjoyable for everyone who walked in that building,” Hollie remembers.

She finds the smiles on the faces of children with disabilities to be the most rewarding part of her job, “Our students’ exhibit tenacity and compassion that is unwavering. All I have to do is instructionally prepare myself and never lower my expectations. All of America’s children can achieve. No exception.”

“One School Community” is the 2014 Inclusive Schools Week theme. It’s a message that Hollie takes to heart, “It’s like having a family member’s back and going the extra mile to ensure that no harm comes their way… Our educators promote unity and differentiation is our strength. It’s our goal to increase parental support of families of children with disabilities. I’m thankful for the one-week celebration, yet we must continue to strive to provide equal education to all students. We must teach the whole child which means supporting families, educators and students to ensure that success for all invested parties.”

Hollie was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Ala. She is married with a teenaged son. They enjoy college football and serving at their church.

The Atlanta Public Schools’ Department of Special Education offers a broad continuum of services for students ages three through 21. There are approximately 400 special education teachers in the district who work with students in the general education and special education environment.

Vickie Cleveland, Executive Director of Special Education at Atlanta Public Schools, is looking toward a more inclusive future. She says the district is working on initiatives to enhance Autism programming as well as working with businesses in the community to provide more transition services to students with disabilities.

Cleveland reminds us all about the significance of this week, “All schools and the community should create a culture where students with disabilities feel welcome and their ‘abilities’ are highlighted and appreciated.”

December 1, 2014 at 12:57 pm Leave a comment

Brandon Elementary School Hosts Special Screening of The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, Nov. 19

Morris Brandon Elementary School is hosting a special screening and discussion of the documentary The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 19, in the school gymnasium, located at 2741 Howell Mill Rd., N.W., Atlanta, GA 30327.

Developmental pediatrician Dr. Sally Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, speaks with Dylan Redford in the documentary "The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia." Photo Credit: HBO Films

Developmental pediatrician Dr. Sally Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity,
speaks with Dylan Redford in the documentary “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia.”
Photo Credit: HBO Films

Dyslexia is a neurological condition that can cause difficulty in reading, writing and spelling.  The one-hour documentary was written, directed and produced by James Redford, the son of Robert Redford, and is focused on the education struggles that his son encountered as a dyslexic, and features interviews with famous dyslexics such as Charles “Chuck” Schwab and Sir Richard Branson.

The film explains how dyslexia affects daily life but does not stop those with it from being successful.  The documentary also profiles parents of elementary, middle, high school, and college students, who share their difficulties and triumphs of parenting a child with dyslexia.

Following the screening, Ellen Hill from The Schenck School will provide a brief presentation about dyslexia and answer questions from the audience.  Presented by the Morris Brandon Elementary School Special Services Committee, parents, students, teachers and members of the community are invited to attend. For more information about the screening, please contact Marsha Sims, Special Services Committee chair at tomandmarsha@comcast.net.

For more information about the documentary, http://thebigpicturemovie.com

November 19, 2014 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

APS Career, Technical Agricultural Education Work-Based Learning Interns become “Smarter with MARTA”

Atlanta Public Schools is celebrating College and Career Motivation Week November 17 – 21, 2014. The goal is to encourage students to do well in school and to prepare today for college and careers tomorrow.

A partnership with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) goes beyond one week, allowing APS students to make preparation a priority during a 12-week internship. Nine Career, Technical Agricultural Education (CTAE) work-based learning students attended an internship orientation at MARTA headquarters on Nov. 3. Work-based learning placements provide students with opportunities to gain skills and knowledge in their area of interest and align with a student’s career pathway and individual career goal.

Atlanta Public Schools MARTA interns: Andre Jackson, B.E.S.T. Academy High School, Customer Service;  Samaria Christian, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Recruiting; Vanessa West, Mays High School, Accounting; Paris Johnson, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Accounting; Deaundra Pullins, Coretta  Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Engineering; Melia Sharp, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Legal Services; Mya Williams, Therrell High School, Department of Equal Opportunity; and Jahkwen Edwards, Douglass High School, TOD-Real Estate.

Atlanta Public Schools MARTA interns: Andre Jackson, B.E.S.T. Academy High School, Customer Service;
Samaria Christian, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Recruiting; Vanessa West, Mays High
School, Accounting; Paris Johnson, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Accounting; Deaundra
Pullins, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Engineering; Melia Sharp, Coretta Scott King Young
Women’s Leadership Academy, Legal Services; Mya Williams, Therrell High School, Department of Equal Opportunity;
and Jahkwen Edwards, Douglass High School, TOD-Real Estate.

MARTA’s service population is comprised of 1.65 million residents in the city of Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb counties and the transit system provides service to nearly half a million passengers each weekday. Work-based learning students from Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Therrell, Douglass, Mays, and B.E.S.T. high schools will have the opportunity to develop skills in various departments within the MARTA organization over the 12-week period.

The orientation began with greetings from Roxanne Antone, MARTA human resources recruiting manager, who talked to the students about company expectations, policies and procedures, organizational structure and dress code requirements. Carla Elliot from MARTA’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, discussed various forms of discriminatory activities, followed by Roosevelt Stripling, customer service manager, who explained the need for exemplary customer service in all positions within MARTA. Stripling also shared with students the importance of customer service and how quality core customer service serves as the “face of the MARTA organization.”  He charged the student interns always to concentrate on delivering exceptional customer service to MARTA customers, which is an important aspect of every job.

“Work-based learning placements represent the pinnacle of the career-related education experience,” said Dr. Michael Maze, CTAE director for Atlanta Public Schools. “I am very appreciative of the partnership with MARTA, and I am extremely excited about the exposure and experiences our students will gain from these internships.” Dr. Beverly Holyfield, CTAE education specialist and work-based learning coordinator for APS, thanked Ms. Antone for providing internships for students that will equip them with the “high level employability and technical skills that employers are currently seeking in today’s competitive society.”

November 19, 2014 at 11:37 am Leave a comment

Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School siblings’ community service recognized at GivingPoint leadership institute at Princeton University

Givingpoint photo

Photo Credit: GivingPoint

Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School siblings Askari Flewellen and Uwezo Flewellen II, recently spoke with more than 90 youth ministers at Princeton University about inspiring their peers to give back to their community. The two brothers were members of GivingPoint’s leadership program, the GivingPoint Institute (GPI) held Nov. 13-15 in Princeton, NJ.

During the conference, the Flewellen brothers shared their experiences as young service leaders, explaining how support from caring adults influenced their own community engagement activities.

The Jackson High School siblings have collectively contributed over 500 hours of community service. They were awarded social innovation grants from GivingPoint for their youth service programs last August. Askari Flewellen, sophomore, received a $500 grant for his youth service program called Get Ready. Get Set. Serve!, to equip and inspire his peers to give back to their community. His older brother, Uwezo Flewellen II, junior, received a $2,000 grant for his program Simple Math Today, to provide a peer-to-peer tutoring program for middle school students struggling in math.

With the theme, “The Abundant Life: Inspiring Youth as Agents of Change,” the two-day conference was hosted by the Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry and GivingPoint’s founder, Derek Smith, served as the keynote speaker. The conference marks the first time the siblings have visited an Ivy League university.

“We had a special opportunity to bring these incredible students from Atlanta to this prestigious institution so that they may share their passion for social change,” said GivingPoint executive director Miranda Hocevar. “We want leaders who work with youth all over the country to understand what motivates these young people to give back and the role they can play in supporting students who are concerned about the world around them. Our goal has always been to let the young people be heard.”

 

About GivingPoint: GivingPoint is an Atlanta-based, youth development organization that equips and motivates students, ages 13-24 to understand critical social issues, connect to local charities, track their community contributions and leverage their skills to make a difference. Today, more than 8,000 students are using GivingPoint’s customized online platform to connect to a network of 500 nonprofits, schools and donors eager to help young people create positive change. GivingPoint users have generated a $6 million charitable impact through their volunteerism and fundraising efforts. The organization was founded in 2009 with a mission to unleash the passion and energy of young people to create an unprecedented level of civic engagement – to create caring hearts and entrepreneurial minds. For more information on launching a civic engagement program within your organization, please visit MyGivingPoint.org or call 770.709.5010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 19, 2014 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

Atlanta Hawks forward Mike Muscala and volunteers renovate Humphries Elementary media center

IMG_0414Atlanta Hawks forward Mike Muscala and former Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson joined 23 volunteers from Invesco and BNY Mellon at Humphries Elementary on Nov. 13, 2014 to paint the school’s library/media center.

The volunteer effort is part of a larger renovation of the library funded by Invesco and BNY Mellon through the Dreambuilders Foundation. BNY Mellon executives from New York joined their Atlanta-based Invesco counterparts for the joint service project. The full renovation of the library will include fresh paint, new blinds, new furniture and rugs, as well as a new aquarium for the students. Muscala and Anderson participated in the work and spent time with students at the school.

Muscala%20talking“There are so many athletes who want to give back to either the community they play in, or the city where they are from, so we get athletes and corporations involved in community outreach,” said former National Football League player and Dreambuilders Foundation President Akin Ayodele. “It’s good for kids to meet these guys who have gone through what they’ve been through, and to see that they’ve made it. You see their eyes light up, they have a million questions, and once they realize who these athletes are, they are shell-shocked. A lot of times, the athletes see themselves in these kids.”

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Ayodele explained that Invesco and BYN Mellon reached out to his foundation with a $12,000 donation, and his foundation contacted Humphries Elementary after learning about the school’s support from the nonprofit organization, Blessings in a Backpack. “We try to leave a footprint here. To be able to help Humphries Elementary fund the renovation of the media center and then to bring people in to volunteer their time is huge.”   IMG_0372Next month, Humphries Elementary will receive an additional $15,000 from the Dreambuilders Foundation to cover the cost of the remaining 150 backpacks needed for its Blessings in a Backpack project.

 

 

November 19, 2014 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

APS Community Comes Together to Celebrate College and Career Motivation Week

CollCAREERevt2014-002This week you will find community members, district employees and Board of Education members speaking to students in schools throughout the district as APS College and Career Motivation Week.  The purpose of the week is to encourage all of our students, from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12, to do well in school and to prepare today for college and careers tomorrow. The special week kicked off at the Georgia International Convention Center on Nov. 17 with the College and Career Motivation Week Extravaganza, a high-intensity college and career fair for hundreds of APS students in grades 4 through 12.

CollCAREERevt2014-016In addition, schools will host job interview workshops, dress-for-success forums and College Spirit Day.  Schools will also host Career Day or career awareness sessions, during which APS board members, employees and partners can visit a school and share their career journeys with students. The week ends Nov. 21 with College Casual Day at APS Central and Regional Offices, where employees will outfit their work spaces and themselves in memorabilia from their favorite college, university or APS school.

 

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November 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm Leave a comment

APS Father Makes Special Veterans Day Visit to Morris Brandon Primary


Last week was a special week in Ms. Cleary’s first grade class at Morris Brandon Primary. The school was in the middle of its annual one million minute Read-A-Thon, which means daily visits from several parent and community volunteer readers.  Tuesday was also Veterans Day and for one special student, the occasions were one in the same.

Brandon2014-119Maj. Richard Peace made a special surprise visit to Ms. Cleary’s class after more than seven months serving with the Alabama Air National Guard in Afghanistan. It was the first time he had seen his daughter, Jada, since last spring.

As her father appeared at her classroom door Jada exclaimed, “Daddy!”

After receiving a big long hug from his daughter, Maj. Peace was surrounded by Brandon students. He answered endless questions about his job in the Air National Guard, his F-16 aircraft, the weather in Afghanistan and the length of his trip back home to Atlanta. To show their appreciation, the students also showed their recent art projects that included a study of Veterans Day. A 12-year veteran, Maj. Peace has just completed his fifth combat deployment. This tour was based at the largest military base in Afghanistan, Bagram Airfield.

In addition to having her dad and mom visit the class, the family also received a surprise call from Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen. Dr. Carstarphen welcomed him back home and thanked him for his military service. She also offered him an open invitation to share his story and experiences with other students in APS. Maj. Peace graciously accepted.

November 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm Leave a comment

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