APS Students Take a Stand During National School Walk Out Day

Gradystudents335On March 14, thousands of students across Atlanta Public Schools made their voices heard as part of National School Walkout Day to protest school violence and in support of stricter gun laws. It is estimated that more than 16,000 APS students from 24 schools participated in the student-led demonstrations.

Brimming with demonstrations and civic engagement activities, students’ participation in the national initiative comes on the heels of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Broward County, Florida, where 17 students were gunned down in February. From speeches and marches, to moments of silence, students coordinated peaceful protests in honor the 17 shooting victims.

APS was supportive of this momentous opportunity for students to engage in safe, structured, student-led civic activities around a national dialogue. Student participation was optional. Student leaders from each school developed their own plans for how their school would protest.

At North Atlanta High School, hundreds of students gathered on the football field, where they observed a moment of silence in honor of the victims. Members of the North Atlanta High School Student Government Association gave short speeches, while dozens of other students held large orange flowers to symbolize the peaceful call to end gun violence.

“As students, we’re here to say we’re tired that the gun violence continues to happen,” said North Atlanta High School SGA president and senior Chandler Smith. “We want to usher in a new movement and spread passion to spark the change we want to see.”

At Grady High School, about 500 students gathered in the football stadium for the protest. Many of them wore orange, which has become the official color of the national student-led protest movement. Most all of them wore an orange ribbon in honor of the Parkland victims. The students listened to speeches by the leaders of the Grady Student Government Association and then took two laps around the track before returning to the building. They were joined on the field by a group of about 30 adults – made up of parents, grandparents, Grady alumni and community residents —  who supported their cause.

At Washington High School, about 600 students decided to remain inside the building and filed into the hallways and walkways and silently kneeled and bowed their heads in honor of the victims in Parkland.

Washington students kneeled and bowed their heads to protest the gun violence in Parkland, Florida and around the nation. 

Check out a video of the Washington events here:

Inman Middle School students held a spirited rally and formed a human chain around their school. Check out some of the photos from the day.

View a video of the Inman events here:

In her blog on http://www.atlsuper.com, APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen wrote, “As the birthplace and school district of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta Public Schools takes seriously our responsibility to prepare our students to succeed beyond high school and to help them become well-rounded individuals equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary for actively engaging in society.”

She continued, “APS is focused on graduating every student ready for college and career. But, at the same time, we know that for our students to succeed, they must also be able to engage in the world around them. We believe that by creating opportunities for safe, structured, student-led civic engagement around a national dialogue such as this one, we are ultimately helping our students develop social and emotional learning skills and be informed residents in our democracy.”

There were so many activities from schools around the district. Click here to view more highlights on the March 14 activities in Atlanta Public Schools.


APS Recognizes Atlanta Board of Education Members During School Board Appreciation Week March 12-16

(From L-R) Atlanta Board of Education Members Leslie Grant, District 1; Byron D. Amos, District 2; Michelle D. Olympiadis, District 3; Vice-Chair Eshé P. Collins, District 6; Board Chair Jason F. Esteves, At-Large, Seat 9 (Districts 5&6); Nancy M. Meister, District 4; Erika Mitchell, District 5; Kandis Wood Jackson, At-Large, Seat 7 (Districts 1&2) and Cynthia Briscoe Brown, At-Large, Seat 8 (Districts 3&4). Photo Credit: APS

ATLANTA – Atlanta Public Schools honors members of the Atlanta Board of Education (ABOE) during School Board Appreciation Week, March 12-16, 2018, for their commitment to providing a quality education for the students they serve. This week celebrates the substantial contributions of the local boards of education.

The ABOE is made up of nine members representing six geographical areas and three “at-large” districts. The school board members are responsible for establishing and approving the educational policies that govern the Atlanta Public Schools system. As community leaders, school board members serve as advocates for the children in local public schools and must study, evaluate and decide what actions are in the best interest of those students.

Jason F. Esteves, At-Large Seat 9, Districts 5&6, serves as the chair of the board, and the current vice chair is Eshe’ P. Collins, District 6. Other members of the ABOE include:

  • Leslie Grant, District 1
  • Byron D. Amos, District 2
  • Michelle D. Olympiadis, District 3
  • Nancy Meister, District 4
  • Erika Mitchell, District 5
  • Kandis Wood Jackson, At-Large, Seat 7 (Districts 1&2)
  • Cynthia Briscoe Brown, At-Large, Seat 8 (Districts 3&4)

Not only do members of the Atlanta school board serve on behalf of their respective geographical districts, ABOE members also serve on various board committees such as:

  • Accountability Committee – Jason Esteves, Eshe’ P. Collins and Kandis Wood Jackson
  • Audit Committee – Leslie Grant (Chair), Eshe’ P. Collins, and Michelle Olympiadis
  • Budget Committee – Nancy Meister (Chair), Byron Amos, Michelle Olympiadis and Jason Esteves (Ex Officio)
  • Policy Review Committee – Cynthia Briscoe Brown (Chair), Kandis Wood Jackson, Erika Mitchell and Jason Esteves (Ex Officio)
  • Legislative Liaisons – Byron Amos and Kandis Wood Jackson (2018-2019)

Additionally, members of the ABOE represent the district on the boards of several external organizations from the National School Boards Association, the Council of Urban Boards of Education to the Council of Great City Schools and Invest Atlanta. School Board Appreciation Week is sponsored by the Georgia School Boards Association.



Atlanta Public Schools Celebrates Public Schools Week


Atlanta Public Schools joins national education groups representing principals, superintendents, parents and other civic organizations for Public Schools Week, March 12-16, 2018, which celebrates the achievements our public schools are making in this country and the critical roles they play in developing future generations of successful students.

As part of Public Schools Week, 50 national organizations have issued a joint statement in support of public education to promote the positive impact public schools have on our nation’s young people and the communities in which they live. To maintain this momentum, Members of Congress supporting this movement will share success stories about the schools and students from their respective districts throughout the week.

Advocates of public education believe to create stronger communities it starts with each of us working collaboratively to create stronger public schools.  A high-quality education provides students with the skills to give them choices in life. In every school, no matter their economic status, school cluster or zip code, students are equipped with the academic, career, and social-emotional skills to achieve. Public Schools Week celebrates the contributions made by America’s public schools and the potential of our schools to continue to change lives and communities for the better.

On Thursday, March 15, from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (EDT), members of Congress, educators, students, parents and other supporters of public education across the country are encouraged to join the conversation via Twitter (#PublicSchoolsWeek) and share why they support this initiative and the outstanding work accomplished by public schools.

Click here to view the list of organizations participating in Public Schools Week.


Inman Students Win APS Middle School Math Competition

2018 Inman Middle School Math Champs

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Students from Inman Middle School have been crowned the 2018 Atlanta Public Schools math champions.

On Friday, Feb. 16, Inman students put their extraordinary mathematical talents to the test to win the 2018 APS Middle School Math Competition, where they competed against  teams from Long, Sutton, Sylvan Hills, B.E.S.T. Academy, Brown, and Martin Luther King middle schools; and Hollis and John Lewis Invictus academies.

Held at Sutton Middle School and featuring more than 100 top math students, or “matheletes,” from nine middle schools across the district, the competition was designed to showcase each student’s strengths and their ability to perform rigorous mathematical problems while working in teams.

Throughout the day, students were challenged with solving various math problems, including area and volume and finding the area of a polygon by decomposing it into rectangles and triangles. Students competed in three separate rounds to solve problems related to systems of equations and proportions, as well as more challenging constructed-response and multi-step calculations.

Sarrita Allen, instructional coach at Inman Middle School, said that prior to the competition, team members met to discuss how to debate and come to a consensus regarding their answers.

Allen said she’s proud of her students’ hard work.

“The students had a great time working together, and we were excited to have the opportunity to compete again for the title and bring back a few more trophies than last year,” Allen said. “As a school, Inman strives to teach the whole child. And this math competition is an opportunity to showcase how effective our teachers are to that end.  Our students show team building, academic problem solving, and sportsmanship behavior when participating in these events; and that’s what Inman is most proud of.”




Atlanta Public Schools Recognizes 2018 School Counselors of the Year

2018 APS Counselors of the Year_Resized
The 2018 APS School Counselors of the Year (from left to right) are: Sheryl Neely, Frederick Douglass High School; Dr. Tony Jones, Crawford Long Middle School; and Rebecca Ginsberg, Toomer Elementary School. Also pictured (second from left) is Maria Grovner, APS school counseling coordinator.

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Atlanta Public Schools recently recognized its 2018 School Counselors of the Year.

Rebecca Ginsberg of Toomer Elementary School; Dr. Tony Jones of Crawford Long Middle School; and Sheryl Neely of Frederick Douglass High School, were all honored for their commitment and dedication to students during the APS School Counselor Recognition Ceremony in February.

An advocate for school counseling services, Ginsberg was recognized for using data and incorporating technology into lessons; implementing literacy strategies across the spectrum; and making technology a student-centered experience. Dr. Jones, who is known as a tech-savvy counselor, was hailed for his use of technology to assess services provided to the students. Active both in school and on the state level, Neely was recognized for her efforts to increase parental involvement, enhance the connection between high school and post-secondary pursuits through various activities, and improve the school’s attendance rate by implementing an incentive program.

Dr. Michael Maze, director of Career, Technical and Agricultural and Education, was named Administrator/Advocate of the Year for his exemplary support of counseling services.

APS School Counseling Coordinator Maria Grovner said this year’s recipients are excellent examples of what school counselors represent.

“These honorees are truly awesome school counselors whose goal is to support students in their quest to become the best versions of themselves as they strive for greater opportunities,” Grovner said.



We Need Your Voice! GO Teams Recruiting Candidates to Fill 400 Available Positions for 2018-2020 Term


It’s hard to believe, but we have been operating as a Charter System for nearly two years! Throughout this transition, we’ve seen greater transparency and increased engagement. A major factor in these improvements is the work of our GO Teams. Each school in our district has a nine-member governance team that works collaboratively with the school principal to develop a strategic plan, approve an operating budget and offer input on personnel decisions. These teams are charged with seeking out new and innovative ways to ensure every student is afforded the tools and support necessary for success.

The best part of operating as a charter system is that each GO Team can really look at the needs of the students it serves. Not the district as a whole, but the needs of an individual school community. In June, the first two-year term will expire, leaving more than 400 seats available on GO Teams all over the district. That’s at least five positions at each school.

Now, it’s your turn! The GO Teams in place now have done an incredible job in this first term. Many team members have already put their names in the hat to run again but we need more! You don’t need experience or special skills, just a willingness to learn and an interest in building a better APS for the 50,000+ kiddos in our school community.

So, here’s what we need…we have two parent/guardian seats and two educator seats at each school. Anyone interested can easily declare candidacy online at www.apsstrongschools.com now through February 23. Virtual voting for declared candidates will be open March 20-26. We also have community member seats open. Anyone interested in those positions can register online as well. Candidates for these seats are nominated by the principal and approved by the team.

GO Teams give our parents, educators and community members a real voice … It’s a genuine opportunity to positively impact the future of your Atlanta Public Schools. You can be the voice our students need. Strong Schools Start With You!

Grady Students Win Competition to Create Inclusive and Accessible Theater Opportunities in Atlanta

Grady HS_Team PandaMonium

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

A group of students at Henry W. Grady High School is determined to make a difference in the community and the world around them.

Now, thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo and diversity training from No Barriers Youth, they are doing just that.

Working with their social studies teacher Nadia Goodvin, ninth graders Joanna Baker, Maura O’Sullivan, Henry Gelber, Charlie Gilbert, Bradley Colburn-Stanger, and Bianca Weber recently won a trip to New York City and a $5,000 grant as part of the Global Impact Challenge’s grand prize.

The challenge is a national competition designed to spark the best ideas from high school and middle school students for building a world free of barriers, stereotypes and discrimination. “Team PandaMonium,” as they’re affectionately known, plans to use their prize to create entertainment and social connections for children with sensory processing disorder, and to develop training for high school volunteers interested in building inclusive practices within our community.

The students have since formed their own nonprofit organization, SenseAbility Atlanta, which is dedicated to creating a full-scale clearinghouse of sensory-friendly performance options. They will also host sensory-friendly performances they plan to develop with local theaters such as the Horizon Theatre, Georgia Institute of Technology, and 7 Stages Theatre.

Students hope their efforts will both increase awareness in the Atlanta community about autism and other developmental challenges, as well as create opportunities for families who may have been homebound for lack of acceptance in prior recreation options.

“I hope this project will increase awareness in Atlanta’s theater communities of sensory accessibility and help families broaden their horizons in that respect,” said Maura O’Sullivan.

Goodvin applauded their efforts.

“The students are serious about the viability of their project proposals,” she said. “It’s amazing how a group of kids can bring an idea to life. Their enthusiasm and confidence inspire me. They will do so much good in their lives.”

No Barriers Youth is the premier educational program challenging young people to contribute their absolute best to the world. This is achieved through transformative experiences, classroom tools and real-world inspiration.

Teachers from 20 schools across the U.S. were chosen for training last summer in Tahoe and this fall, they recruited diverse teams of students to provide hands on training designed to foster creativity and develop projects to address local diversity and inclusion issues. Common themes developed by competing teams included improving accessibility, encouraging the inclusion of diverse ability populations, and recognizing the contributions of people with visible and non-visible disabilities.

Subject matter experts from Wells Fargo and No Barriers USA jointly evaluated the project proposals and video presentations. Overall, teams participating in the Global Impact Challenge included 156 students in nine states.

Team PandaMonium will travel to the 2018 No Barriers Summit, Oct. 5–6, in New York City. The summit is a premiere immersive event that brings together people of all backgrounds and abilities who are transcending barriers to unleash their fullest potential and live a life of purpose.