Georgia Power Brings Backpacks and PowerTOWN Safety Program to Dunbar ES

Georgia Power Employees donated more than 250 backpacks to Dunbar students and presented them during an interactive electrical safety program. 

First, third, and fifth graders from Dunbar Elementary School learned the “power” of earning Class Dojo points during their recent surprise visit by Georgia Power.  Georgia Power employees wanted to give back to students and provide a special in-school field trip and free backpacks filled with treats to a special group of students. Georgia Power selected Dunbar and brought its award-winning electrical safety education program, PowerTOWN, a crew of real-life electrical technicians and an electrical work truck to the school to teach these students important lessons about electrical safety.

Through a partnership with Purposity, a non-profit donation portal, Georgia Power employees purchased more than 250 backpacks.  Georgia Power brought the backpacks to Dunbar along with their engaging presentation which includes a model to demonstrate real-life scenarios, involving electricity, such as downed power lines, and explains how to stay safe in these situations.

“The students were in awe of the demonstration and I know that by Georgia Power being here, students’ interest in careers in engineering or working at Georgia Power was sparked (pun intended),” said Ernest Sessoms, principal of Dunbar.

The morning kicked off outside with the electrical truck extending 100 feet in the air.   After the truck demonstration, students learned about the safe use of electric power and tips for being safe around transformers and downed power lines.

“Georgia Power is pleased to partner with Atlanta Public Schools, Dunbar, and Purposity,” said Larry Vincent, Atlanta Area Manager, Georgia Power Company. “Our employees wanted to give back and found an easy way to do this through APS. Along with the backpacks we wanted to bring the PowerTOWN electrical safety program to teach students about the importance of electrical safety and how to respond in a variety of situations around electricity.”

Partnerships provide key support to schools in Atlanta Public Schools.  “At Dunbar, we are grateful for all the partners and the experiences and resources they provide to help our students be ready for college and career,” said Sessoms.

View a video recap of the day here.

Career Ready: Alonzo A. Crim & Grady High School Students Explore Careers in Construction Management


Nearly one dozen career-minded students from Alonzo A. Crim Open Campus and Henry W. Grady high schools traveled to the downtown Atlanta offices of Stevens & Wilkinson and Parrish Construction Group on Oct. 2 as part of a joint, work-based learning partnership designed to help students explore various careers in architecture, engineering and construction management.

Spearheaded by Richard Elder, CTE teacher and work-based learning coordinator at Crim, the daylong field trip was especially designed to promote the growth of the construction market in Georgia while also showcasing the renovation and construction of the former David T. Howard School, which will house nearly 1,400 middle school students in the Grady Cluster when it opens in the fall of 2020.

During their tours of Stevens & Wilkinson and Parrish Construction Group, the 11 students gained knowledge about topics ranging from architectural plans and drawings, to construction and renovation from conception to completion.

Elder said the trip was designed to not only expose students to the myriad of career opportunities available in construction management and architecture and engineering, but to also invite other APS high schools to participate in Crim’s construction work-based learning program.

“There is so much construction happening in Atlanta and the surrounding area, that we wanted to open up the program, especially since the demand is high and there is a need for young people to enter the industry,” Elder said. “This program gives our students an opportunity to get experience and to not just participate in a program where they’ll be doing menial work. It gives them experience with all phases of construction, from working in the field and office to learning about plumbing, electrical and carpentry work.”

While at Stevens & Wilkinson, students learned about the architectural design and concept behind the $52 million renovation and restoration of the David T. Howard Building. Working collaboratively with the Parrish Construction Group, engineers and architects at Stevens & Wilkinson discussed the history of the building, as well as floor plans and artists’ renderings for classrooms, soccer fields, the school cafeteria and media center, as well as a glass bridge overlooking the school’s courtyard.

Students also heard from Trevone Wilson, a recent Crim graduate who is now working as an intern with Parrish Construction Group, all thanks to his participation as a work-based learning student at Crim. Trevone has gained experience working at the Walden Athletic Complex job site under the mentorship of Art Cofelice, director of Field Supervision with Parrish, and is now working on the Howard Middle School – one of Parrish’s most high-profile to date.

“I love it,” said Trevone, who is also studying construction management at Atlanta Technical College. “Since working here, I’ve learned a lot about construction and the history of the (Howard) building.”


On the final leg of the field trip, students made their way to the site of the new Howard Middle School. During their tour of the sprawling building, students visited the old gymnasium and roamed the same halls as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson and basketball legend Walter Frazier – all famous alumni of the David T. Howard School.

They also engaged with employees who shared advice and encouraged them to consider careers in the construction industry.

That may have been convincing enough for Grady senior Alexandria Burns, who’s considering a career in construction management.


“I’m not sure what I want to do right now, but this seems pretty interesting,” she said.

Elder said he hopes to enroll 10-15 students from other APS high schools in Crim’s construction program.

“We’re looking to expose students to career readiness, so hopefully this will grab their attention,” he said. “Students can become a foreman, project manager, or even a superintendent. We need young people to fill those spots. The possibilities are endless.”




We Are APS: Jean Childs Young Middle School IB Students of the Month


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Caring in August, Inquirers in September, Thinkers in October, Knowledgeable in November, Risk-Takers in December, Principled in January, Open-Minded in February and Balanced in March, Communicator in April and Reflective in May.

Throughout the school year, Jean Childs Young Middle School (located in the Mays cluster) will recognize students from each grade level who go above and beyond to exemplify these International Baccalaureate (IB) learner profile words of the month.

“The learner profile unites us all with a common focus on the whole person, as a lifelong learner,” wrote Dr. John Beliard, IB specialist at Young Middle School. “It applies to us all – student, teacher, parent or administrator – for we are all continually learning.”

IB is a signature program for our North Atlanta, Mays, Therrell and Jackson clusters and is offered in over 4,000 schools in more than 150 countries. IB describes an approach to curriculum and instruction that prepares students to be inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. Because the curriculum is globally relevant, rigorous and consistent in its approach across schools, IB exam scores are accepted for college credit throughout the world, making IB students more competitive for scholarships and college access.

Meet the IB Learners for the months of August and September by viewing the slideshow above. To keep up with the IB Learners of the Month for the remainder of the school year, be sure to follow Young Middle School on Twitter @apsyoungms.

Deerwood Academy Makes a Color Splash for Literacy


Deerwood Academy’s Run/Walk for Reading 5K

A splash of color to foster a culture of reading. That was the collective goal of more than 100 elementary students, families, APS employees and friends who gathered at Princeton Lakes for Deerwood Academy’s Run/Walk for Reading 5K on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 8 a.m.

At the start of the race and at each leg of the race, runners were splattered with colored powder – all in the name of fun and literacy!

“As an IB school, we’re transdisciplinary. Literacy transcends English Language Arts and reading classrooms. It’s math, science and social studies and our specialty areas as well,” said Principal Camisha Perry. “Right now we have one of our partners, Preferred School Care with Bill Selmon, who was the Therrell Cluster partner of the year, that really does a good job with helping us promote our [Accelerated Reader] program, but that’s focusing just on reading and ELA. We want to be able to have incentives and do different things to get kids excited about reading, but it costs.”

Principal Perry hopes to make the 5K an annual event that raises funds for literacy programs and incentives.

“We’ve done a survey with the kids. We asked them ‘what is something you would like?’ They gave us ideas of different types of celebrations, different types of rewards,” Perry said.

Through fundraisers, such as the Reading Run 5K, Perry says Deerwood Academy plans “to celebrate kids, not just the top kids but the kids who show progress and growth.”

Make Music Count App Launches at C.W. Long Middle School

Make Music CountHeads are bopping as “T-Shirt” by Atlanta rap trio Migos blasts from speakers. Some pound notes on keyboards, while others pluck away at iPad stations. Math class has never looked so engaging.

This was the atmosphere at C.W. Long Middle School’s STEM lab on Oct. 2 for the launch of the Make Music Count app – an innovative math curriculum for grades 3-12 that teaches students how to master fractions, graphing, algebra and pre-calculus through popular music on the piano.

Make Music Count founder & CEO Marcus Blackwell graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and worked for GE Energy as a lead modeling analyst while serving as the music director and pianist at Elizabeth Baptist Church. He credits his love of music for helping him conquer his fear of math.

“The fact that I played the piano literally saved me in mathematics,” Blackwell said. “The way that the kids are learning with using the music to teach the math is exactly how I learned and got over my own math phobia. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of music foundation in schools, so that’s why this curriculum is much needed because not only are you improving your progress in math but you’re actually getting a foundation in music as well.”

The app is equipped with more than 100 popular hip hop, R&B and pop songs. Students learn how to play the chords by honing their math skills.  The keys on the piano become the number line.

STEM Program Specialist Tanya Barrett has supported Make Music Counts since its beginning stages. After seeing Blackwell’s presentation during a STEM conference, she invited him to Long Middle School to host an interactive session for a sixth-grade math class. With the launch of the app, Blackwell is now able to take the classroom experience of using real keyboards to an anytime experience with use of mobile devices.

Long Middle School is the first school to experience the app.

Atlanta Public Schools “has been a long supporter of Make Music Count even when we were just starting out as volunteer program,” said Blackwell, who has also done demonstrations at South Atlanta High School. “They supported us through the afterschool program, and they have the technology to use applications. It was a perfect place to introduce it to the students. We want to be able to have as much impact as possible, and I just appreciate APS’ support as we grow through the years. This is the perfect place. These are the kids who look just like me, who have the same type of math phobia that I had growing up. It’s the perfect place to use our new app.”

Through its partnership with Casio, Make Music Counts donated 20 keyboards to Long Middle School. Math teachers can check out the keyboards from the school’s media center.

Licensing the app costs $60 per student, as each student has an individual profile that tracks progress. Students also receive a Make Music Count workbook with practice problems.

For more information on how to bring Make Music Count to your school, go to or email


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Delta Reading Buddies Return to APS


When the red shirts arrive, students are bound to leave with a smile. That’s right, the Delta Reading Buddies program has returned to Dobbs and Hutchinson elementary schools.

In an effort to increase engagement and student reading achievement, more than 150 Delta Airlines employees are volunteering their time twice monthly to read to their APS buddies throughout the school year.

Delta employee Emmakate Young is a Grady High School, Inman Middle School and Morningside Elementary School alumna. Her mom is a former APS kindergarten teacher, and her nieces are current APS students. Volunteering with the Delta Reading Buddies program is personal for her.

Emmakate Young is a proud APS alumna and Delta Reading Buddies volunteer.

“It feels amazing,” said Young. “I feel so blessed to have gotten to go to APS. I know that it’s still really important to give back and so the fact that Delta affords this opportunity to give back and that APS opens its doors to allow us to come (and I’m also an avid reader), is just wonderful. I jumped at the chance. I’m really impressed by the program.”

Hutchinson Principal Dr. Shuanta Broadway says it’s a remarkable partnership that her students look forward to each month; it’s especially special for those students who don’t have someone who reads to them outside of the classroom.

“We have a mantra at Delta that no one better connects the world, and we believe [through] our partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, particularly Dobbs and Hutchinson, we’re better connecting the world through literacy, through the love of learning. We’re so excited to be in our second year in our partnership,” said LaSandra Boykins, Delta Airlines community affairs project manager.

In addition to a commitment of time, Delta has donated hundreds of free books and ample resources. Last year, Delta committed to a five-year partnership with Atlanta Public Schools. In its first year, Delta employees donated $350,000. This summer, The Delta Air Lines Foundation announced a $300,000 donation to support literacy efforts at Atlanta schools.

With the additional resources, Hutchinson Elementary was able to hire two new instructional coaches.

“We know we need to take care of our community, take care of those students, those scholars that are in our backyard,” Boykins said. “Our partnership with the South Atlanta Cluster was strategic. These are not only our future customers but our future leaders.”

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We Are APS: Sandra Ayers

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Oct. 2 is National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day, and Atlanta Public Schools is grateful to all of our maintenance staff who work tirelessly to keep our schools and offices clean.

APS especially recognizes Sandra Ayers, a 22-year APS employee who began part-time in 1996 before transitioning to full-time in 1999. Since April 2000, Ayers has been at Benjamin E. Mays High School.

“She’s a wonderful custodian, but what is so impressive is how much of a fabric she is to the community,” said Principal Richard Fowler. “She understands the importance of a clean school and its effect on our students. We value her smile. We value her enthusiasm. We value her part in making Mays what it is.”

Ayers hails from an APS family. Three of her four children are APS alumni, her mother was an APS paraprofessional, and she has a slew of cousins who were APS teachers, administrative assistants and custodial workers.

While “some people look at the job as beneath them,” Ayers says she is passionate about her work and truly appreciates her experience at APS.

“Working for Atlanta Public Schools encouraged me to go further in my education,” said Ayers, who is currently working on her MBA. “A lot of custodial workers do have an education.”


Upon completing her MBA degree, Ayers hopes to work in the APS finance office. Until then, she says she takes pride in doing her job and taking care of her babies. Ayers refers to all Mays students as “my babies,” particularly special needs students who she says often go unnoticed.

In preparation and celebration of this story, colleagues greeted Ayers with balloons and roses on Sept. 27, and Principal Fowler instructed her to dress to impress. Ayers reluctantly obliged, ditching her custodial uniform and putting on her Sunday’s best.

“Her allegiance to her job supersedes the pomp and circumstance,” said Principal Fowler.

“I feel very honored to be honored,” said Ayers.

We Are APS highlights APS visionaries (parents, students, teachers, principals, support staff, community members, partners, etc.), who exemplify our vision of a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage, and the community trusts the system. To recommend an APS visionary for a We Are APS feature, contact your communications liaison or email