College & Career Ready: Brown Middle School Students Explore Robotics and the World of STEM

BMS STEM Workshop2
Students at Brown Middle School built robots during a recent STEM workshop, thanks to a partnership with College For Every Student (CFES) and the United States Military Academy at West Point. 

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Dozens of career- and college-minded students at Brown Middle School recently spent the day building and programming robots, all while exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Thanks to a partnership between Brown Middle School, College For Every Student (CFES), and the United States Military Academy at West Point, 80 students participated in the West Point Robotics Workshop – a two-day, in-school activity focused on helping students become college and career ready by exposing them to STEM professions and college readiness.

Funded by Scott Pioli, Atlanta Falcons assistant general manager and CFES board member, the STEM program serves as a passion project to help provide opportunities for students – especially those who will become the first in their families to attend college.

“This workshop helps create a strong culture around college and career readiness, which fits really well with Atlanta Public Schools’ mission and Mr. Pioli’s desire for students to have opportunities that he didn’t have,” said Andrea McDonald, director for Special Programs with CFES. “We want to help excite kids about STEM, because that is where the future is.”

During the workshop, which was held inside the school’s new STEM lab, students learned the basics of robotics and the various facets of STEM. They also asked questions about the cadets’ experiences at the esteemed military academy, which is the largest engineering school in the country.

West Point Cadet_BMS Students
Senior West Point Cadet Justin Alexander helps seventh graders build robots.

Students like seventh grader Kyla Bunch couldn’t have been more excited about the opportunity. She and her partner spent part of their day building robots to solve a real-life problem involving an isolated village devastated after a hurricane. In turn, Kyla and her classmates were responsible for programming their robots to help bring food and supplies to the village.

“It’s fun,” Kyla said, as she and her partner worked diligently to assemble and program their robot. “You get to use your brain and pay more more attention to the little things and take precaution to what you’re doing.”

STEM Student Workshop at BMS

STEM lead teacher James McDaniel said the workshop exposed students to college readiness and the opportunities available to them.

“When they try robotics, students realize computer science isn’t as hard as they think it is,” he said. “This helps them realize that they can become computer scientists.”

Principal Tiauna Crooms said the CFES partnership has allowed teachers to focus on a college and career path that is directly aligned with Georgia standards.

“This partnership event has provided our students with essential skills, but more importantly the relationship has allowed Brown’s students to explore the possibilities for their future,” Crooms said. “By participating in this workshop, students have experienced how they can apply what they learn every day in school to a career in STEM. I am confident that my students will take this invaluable opportunity and use the tools they have acquired and apply to school and beyond.”

 

APS is Thankful for Delta! Global Giant Steps Up Again to Help Hutchinson and Dobbs Elementary Schools

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Delta Airlines has pledged to donate $500,000 over five years toward programs and initiatives at two Atlanta Public Schools – Hutchinson and Dobbs Elementary.

Students and staff at Hutchinson and Dobbs Elementary Schools have one more thing for which to be thankful … the generosity of Delta Airlines.

Members of Delta’s cargo division, led by vice president Shawn Cole, visited Hutchinson on Friday and brought boxes of school supplies, along with large bags filled with snacks

 

and treats for every student in the school. The students can take the snacks home over the holiday to ensure they have plenty of nourishment between meals during the Thanksgiving break. Then, the 50 or so employees hung around for a few hours to read to students.

It is yet another example of the commitment Delta has made to partner with Atlanta Public Schools to improve the lives of students and give back to the community. Along with volunteer efforts, Delta has pledged to donate $100,000 a year for the next five years to fund various projects and initiatives at Hutchinson and Dobbs Elementary.

Shawn Cole of Delta
Shawn Cole, vice president of the Delta Airlines Cargo Division speaks with students at Hutchinson Elementary School.

“Atlanta is our hometown, and we want to make sure we focus on improving the community,” Cole said. “Education is the key to a successful future, and with Hutchinson and Dobbs being just five minutes away from us, we’re all part of the community. These students are our future employees and our future customers. We want to bring that ‘Delta love’ to them.”

So far this year that “Delta love” has been displayed in various ways at Hutchinson. The gym has been painted. The cafeteria has been refurbished with fresh paint, new lights and two large flat screen monitors, and Delta volunteers organized the school’s “Trunk or Treat” Halloween event and are active participants in the Delta Buddies reading program.

 

“We have made a huge and much-needed commitment to improve reading, and Delta is helping us with that,” Hutchinson Principal Dr. Shaunta Broadway said. “But there has been a trickle- down effect that has improved our school culture. To have an international company like Delta come in and be a partner, and donate so much time and money, it has made all of us – teachers, students, parents – feel more important. It’s just been a blessing.”

Four APS Football Teams Advance to Round Two of the State Playoffs

Mays - Coach Battle (11-13-17)

Four Atlanta Public Schools teams won their first-round games in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state playoffs in football and have advanced to Round 2 this weekend:

Carver
The Panthers dominated Columbia of DeKalb County, 36-0, last Friday at Grady Stadium. Carver (10-1) was led on offense by quarterback Octavious Battle, who completed seven-of-10 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns, Jo’quavious Marks, who ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns, and Deanthony Ball, who caught two touchdown passes. On defense, Solomon Mosley and Jatavius Ponder combined for 14 tackles and three sacks. Carver, the Region 6-AAAAA champion, will now host Flowery Branch (9-2) of Hall County, the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAAAA, Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Grady Stadium.


Mays

The Raiders dominated the fourth quarter against Sequoyah of Cherokee County, outscoring the Chiefs 20-0 in the period to claim a decisive 48-28 win, last Friday at Lakewood Stadium. Tyree Nelson scored two touchdowns, including a 69-yard touchdown run, and Amir Abdur-Rahman scored on a 90-yard touchdown pass. Mays (10-1), the Region 5-AAAAAA champion, now has a record of 10-1 and will host Centennial (8-3), the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA, Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Lakewood Stadium. The game is a candidate for the WXIA-TV/11Alive Sports Game of the Week. Go here to vote!
B.E.S.T. Academy
The Eagles held off Temple of Carroll County, 34-28, last Saturday at Lakewood Stadium. Sheldon Garmon’s interception in the game’s final minute sealed the first state playoff win in the history of the school for B.E.S.T. Academy (6-5). Blaine Gibson scored two touchdowns for the Eagles, the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AA, and Jalen Cannon, Giovanni Morgan and Rashad Whitehead each had one score. B.E.S.T. will travel to north Georgia to take on undefeated Rabun County (11-0), the Region 8-AA champion, Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Maynard Jackson
The Jaguars, the No. 2 seed in Region 6-AAAAA, defeated Miller Grove (5-6), 14-0, last Friday night. Maynard Jackson (9-2) joined B.E.S.T. Academy in earning the school’s first win in the state playoffs. The Jaguars will now face Buford (9-1), the Region 8-AAAAA champion, Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Two APS teams were knocked out of the playoffs last Friday. Douglass, the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AA, was defeated by Callaway (10-1) of Troup County, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AA, 28-8. The Astros finished the season with a record of 7-4. Also, South Atlanta, the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AA, lost to Region 5-AA champion Heard County, 42-3. The Hornets finished the season with a record of 5-6, and advanced to the state playoffs for the first time since 1994.

 

Dr. Evelyn Mobley Named Georgia Association for Alternative Education 2017-2018 Administrator of the Year

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The Georgia Association for Alternative Education (GAAE) recognized Atlanta Public Schools’ Dr. Evelyn Mobley as the 2017 recipient of the Administrator of the Year Award during its recent conference.  Mobley is the principal of West End Academy Performance Learning Center, a non-traditional program addressing the needs of at-risk students.

The honor recognizes a GAAE member who demonstrates exemplary performance in managing school programs, provides strong support for the school management, makes a commitment to educational quality and student achievement and provides overall innovation and exceptional leadership.

“I am honored to receive this recognition as Administrator of the Year. This award validates the work of an exemplary alternative setting and speaks to the commitment of the teachers and staff at the West End Academy,” said Mobley. “The award belongs to the school, parents, and community partners and organizations such as Communities In School, Atlanta Families, Under the Track Barbers, Butterfly Girls, United Way, the Mayors Youth Office, and of course Atlanta Public Schools.”

Mobley said alternative settings are equipped to comprehensively educate students with basic needs, behavioral interventions, family engagement, and academic assistance. West End Academy strives to be flexible in its organization and administration and provides curriculum elements that focus on improving student self-esteem, fostering the growth of individuality, and enhancing SEL social skills.

Mobley said commitment is the key factor for the success of the students and the program. One of her favorite quotes by author Tony Robbins affirms, “There is no abiding success without commitment.”

Alonzo A. Crim Open Campus High School Named Georgia Association for Alternative Education 2017-2018 Spotlight School of the Year

 

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The leadership team of Crim are pictured holding their 2017-2018 Spotlight School plaque. 

 

The Georgia Association for Alternative Education (GAAE) recognized Alonzo A. Crim Open Campus High School as the 2017-2018 Spotlight School of the Year during its recent conference.

The honor recognizes a school that incorporates exemplary practices each day in a non-traditional setting. Winning schools should embody the 15 exemplary practices for alternative education programs that have been established by the National Association for Alternative Education (NAAE). The comprehensive list of practices relate to leadership, climate and culture, curriculum and instruction, parent involvement and more. More information on each practice can be found on the NAAE website.

Dawn Parker is the principal of Crim, a non-traditional high school that prepares students to be college and career ready.  When she reflects on where the school has been to where it is now, Parker said receiving this recognition is a significant accomplishment for Crim.

“It symbolically represents the blood, sweat, and tears that my team has collectively poured into our program over the last 4 years of my tenure. The tremendous gains that we have obtained are absolutely phenomenal,” she said.  “These types of gains don’t just happen. It takes a collective effort on everyone’s part to build a culture of continuous growth. Our students have embraced our mission and are determined to succeed, so it is amazing for them to see the growth and experience such success and recognition.”

Parker said Crim has achieved many recent gains of which she is proud.  The school earned the highest end of course (EOC) growth in the district for 2016-2017 (20.8 percent); increased the school’s student attendance rate by 3 percent, increased the school’s graduation rate by 4 percent for students graduating within 4 years, and also saw increases in their latest CCRPI scores by 24 points, almost doubling last year’s score.

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Earlier in March 2017, Crim dedicated its new construction training lab. This innovative lab was made possible through donations of resources from construction partners and will provide students with hands-on training and experience to use in construction trades.  

 

In addition to helping students obtain the necessary credits to graduate, Crim has several thriving Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) programs as well.  The culinary arts, Engineering and Design, and construction programs are award-winning programs that are providing students with career pathways while they are in high school. Chef Larry Alford, who oversees the culinary arts program, was even recently recognized as Atlanta Public School’s High School Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the districtwide honor.

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Chef Larry Alford was named the 2017-2018 Atlanta Public Schools High School Principal of the Year.

Parker said alternative education is critically important for many APS students who cannot thrive in a traditional environment.

“Alternative education is important for any student who chooses another path of education. Alternative is an option. Alternative is a choice. Often times the term alternative is used with a negative connotation. However, the term alternative simply means providing multiple opportunities to help students achieve their goals,” she said.  “Our mission is to understand the best way our kids learn and meet them where they are.  To this end, Crim is a premier ‘alternative’ school because we are continuously looking at new ways to serve our students. We wear the name ‘alternative’ proudly! We are an Alternative!”

 

State Playoffs in Football Begin this Weekend for Six APS Teams

Mays football 2016 (Celebration)
Mays is one of six APS high schools that has advanced to the state playoffs in football. The Raiders are region champs for the second consecutive year and will participate in the Corky Kell Classic to begin the 2018 season in August.

Six Atlanta Public Schools teams have advanced to the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state playoffs in football and will compete in first round games this weekend. Here’s a look:

Mays
Mays finished the regular season with a record of 9-1 and won the Region 5-AAAAAA championship for the second consecutive season. The Raiders will host the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AAAAAA, Sequoyah (6-4) of Cherokee County, 7:30 p.m., Friday at Lakewood Stadium.

Mays has a combined record of 50-12 since 2012, and that sustained success has gotten the Raiders invited to participate in one of the nation’s top high school football events, the Corky Kell Classic – a series of nine games played over three days on the opening weekend of the season. Mays will face Norcross of Gwinnett County in the final game of the Corky Kell Classic at 8:45 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Be on the lookout for ticket information!
 

Carver
The Panthers finished the regular season with a record of 9-1 and claimed the Region 6-AAAAA championship. It is the first region title for Carver since 2007. The Panthers will host Columbia (5-5) of DeKalb County, the No. 4 seed from Region 5-AAAAA, at 7:30 p.m., Friday at Grady Stadium.

Douglass
The Astros will be the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AA, after finishing the regular season with a record of 7-3. Douglass will travel to Hogansville to face Callaway (9-1) of Troup County, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AA, Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Callaway Stadium.

South Atlanta
The Hornets are the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AA, and will travel to Franklin to face Heard County (9-1) the champion of Region 5-AA, Friday at 7:30 pm., at Staples Stadium.

South Atlanta is in the state playoffs in football for the first time since 1994! That accomplishment has the Hornets in the running to be the WAGA-TV/High 5 Sports Team of the Week. Vote for them here: http://myfoxatlanta.secondstreetapp.com/High-5-Sports-Team-of-the-Week–7/gallery/

B.E.S.T. Academy
The Eagles finished the regular season with a record of 5-5, and will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AA. B.E.S.T. Academy will host Temple (6-4) of Carroll County, the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AA, Saturday at 7 p.m., at Lakewood Stadium.

Maynard Jackson
The Jaguars are the No. 2 seed in Region 6-AAAAA, behind Carver, and will host a state playoff game for the first time in school history! Maynard Jackson will face Miller Grove (5-5) of DeKalb County, the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAAAA, Saturday at 7 p.m., at Grady Stadium.

Carver, Mays Win Football Region Titles! APS to be Well Represented in State Playoffs

Joquavious Marks - Carver RB 2020
Carver sophomore running back Joquavious Marks helped lead the Panthers to their first region championship in 10 years this season.

The regular season still has one week remaining, but it has already been a historic one for Atlanta Public Schools! Two schools clinched region champions on Friday night while four others secured spots in the Georgia High School Association state playoffs, which will begin the weekend of Nov. 10. Here’s a recap:

Carver
The Panthers clinched their first region championship in resounding fashion Friday night, destroying Lithia Springs (Douglas County) 61-6. It is the first region title for Carver since the 2007 season. The Panthers will be the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AAAAA, and will host a first-round state playoff game most likely against one of three DeKalb County teams from Region 5-AAAAA: Columbia, Lithonia or Miller Grove.

Mays
Mays clinched its second consecutive Region 5-AAAAAA championship by pulling away from Alexander in the second half of Friday’s game, 34-24.  The Raiders will host the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AAAAAA – either Creekview or Sequoyah, both from Cherokee County – in the first round of the state playoffs.

B.E.S.T. Academy
The Eagles finished the regular season with a heartbreaking loss to South Atlanta, 35-34, in double overtime Friday night. However, they finished second in Region 6-AA and will host a first round playoff game, most likely against one of four teams from Region 5-AA:  Lamar County, Temple of Carroll County, or Jordan or Spencer, both of Columbus-Muskogee County.

Douglass
The Astros will be the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AA and will face the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AA, most likely Callaway of Troup County.

Maynard Jackson
The Jaguars clinched the No. 2 seed in Region 6-AAAAA, behind Carver, and will host a state playoff game for the first time in school history. They will face the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAAAA, which will most likely be one of four teams from DeKalb County:  Columbia, Lithonia, Miller Grove or Southwest DeKalb.

South Atlanta
The Hornets earned a berth in the state playoffs for the first time since 1994 with their 35-34 win in double overtime over B.E.S.T. Academy. As the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AA, they will face Region 5-AA champion Heard County in the first round of the state playoffs. Ironically, South Atlanta lost to Heard County in the first game of the season, 42-16.