Burgess-Peterson Academy Receives IB Authorization

It’s official! Burgess-Peterson Academy (BPA) has become the first Jackson Cluster traditional elementary school to earn the IB World School designation! Led by Principal David White, Burgess-Peterson has received authorization to offer the Primary Years Programme (PYP) as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School.

“Burgess-Peterson Academy is thrilled to gain authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organization to offer the PYP (Primary Years Programme),” said Principal White. “We’ve been working toward this goal for four years and are so proud of our students and staff for achieving this milestone. We’re especially enthusiastic that our students at BPA will now have the opportunity for an IB experience K-12 since our feeder schools, King Middle School and Maynard Jackson High School, offer the Middle Years, Diploma and Career – Related Programmes respectively.”

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme is a curriculum framework designed for students ages 3 to 12. The programme challenges students to think for themselves and take responsibility for their learning as they explore local and global issues and opportunities in real-life contexts.

Implementing the PYP at Burgess-Peterson Academy will ensure that students can thrive in the Middle Years Programme (MYP) at King Middle School as well as the International Baccalaureate Programme at Maynard Jackson High School.

We are extremely proud of Burgess-Peterson Academy and look forward to seeing the BPA school community continue to excel as they prepare students for college and career! 

APS Honors Black History Month

As the nation celebrates the outstanding achievements of African- Americans during Black History Month, APS proudly salutes the immeasurable impact that African-Americans have had and continue to have on our society and on our individual lives.

Throughout the month of February, Atlanta Public Schools will celebrate Black History Month with an array of fun, innovative, thought-provoking and entertaining activities, all designed to educate and inspire students and observers.

Below is just a sample of APS events happening in February and beyond to honor the trailblazers of the African-American community who helped clear a path to opportunity for so many of us. Be sure to check back for updates.

Friday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m.: Students at John Lewis Invictus Academy (1890 Donald L. Hollowell Parkway, NW) will present “Emmett Till: A Stage Play,” which will recount the tragic story of a 14-year old African American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store. The event is open to the public. Costs $5 in advance, $7 at the door.

Friday, Feb. 28, 10:30 a.m.: Charles Drew Charter School (300 Eva Davis Way, SE) will host a mural and scroll dedication in honor of the school’s namesake, Dr. Charles Drew, the world renowned physician, surgeon and researcher credited with developing improved techniques for blood storage and preservation. The event is presented by Drew Charter and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Thursday, Feb. 27, 6 p.m.: Students at Harper-Archer Elementary School (3399 Collier Drive, NW) will present “What Will You Be the First to Do?” where they will reflect on significant firsts in Black history and challenge each other to be the next generation of history makers. This event is open to the public.

Thursday, Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m.: Continental Colony Elementary School (3181 Hogan Road, SW) students will perform “A Journey to The Wiz,” an ode to the renowned movie and stage play “The Wiz.” The performance, featuring Continental Colony students and staff who had to audition for their roles, will follow the school’s annual International Baccalaureate night. This event is open to the public.

Thursday, Feb. 27, 11:30 a.m.: Carver Early College High School (55 McDonough Boulevard, SE) students will present excerpts from “The 1619 Project,” an ongoing research project by The New York Times Magazine that re-examines the legacy of slavery in the United States. The school also held a Black History Living Wax Museum on Feb. 19, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 6:30 p.m.: Jean Childs Young Middle School (3116 Benjamin E. Mays Drive, SW) host a Black History Month program following its open house event for fifth grade families. The program will feature a saxophone solo by band teacher Albert Levy, student-led skits depicting significant moments throughout history, student dances and student tributes to current African Americans making a significant impact on society. This event is free and open to Young Middle School families, APS employees, and Mays Cluster 5th grade families who attend the open house at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m.: Sutton Middle School (2875 Northside Drive, NW) students will present “A Journey Through Time,” where they reflect on significant moments in our nation’s history. The event is open to the public.

Friday, Feb. 21, at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.: Bolton Academy hosted a special performance from the Ballethnic Dance Company.

Monday, Feb. 10, 10:30 a.m. – noon: APS Alonzo A. Crim Center for Learning and Leadership hosted a Black History Month event, featuring special performances from staff and students. In addition, APS Archives and Museum opened every Monday in February from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Is your school planning a Black History Month event? Email sherna.phillips@apsk12.org with the name of your event, date, time, location, and please note if the event is open to the public. The Office of Communications would love to cover and/or promote your slice of Black history! Feel free to also send any information you may have regarding Women’s History Month (March) programming.

We Are APS: Bunche Middle School ‘Kidventor’ Wins $5000 for His Patented Anti-Bully Backpack

Makai Samuels-Paige is an 11-year-old sixth grader at Ralph J. Bunche Middle School with a vivid imagination. But he doesn’t just visualize ideas. He designs and executes them too.

In November 2019, he received a patent for his Anti-Bully Backpack, an invention he created to stop bullying in schools. Three months later, he traveled with his parents to New York City to present his invention to Strahan, Sara and Keke during Good Morning America’s “Kidventors” segment and was awarded a $5,000 prize.

“My invention is the anti-bully backpack. It’s basically a backpack with a camera on it, so your parents can see what’s happening at all times,” explained Makai. “First you get on your cellular device, go to the Anti-Bully Backpack app, turn on your rechargeable battery pack, then sync up the cameras, press one of the cameras, and you’ll be good to go.”

His parents say Makai has always been an inventor. While most kids play with toys, his dad says Makai plays with tools.

On Feb. 20, Principal Octavius Harris recognized Makai as the IB Student of the Month for his achievement, innovation and compassion.

“Makai had the opportunity to invent something to not only help himself but to help other people,” Principal Harris said. “That is the epitome of caring.”

Makai was then given the opportunity to select 10 friends to join him in Bunche’s new game room, equipped with pool tables, video and board games, air hockey, and sweets.  He selected 10 people who he describes as “really good childhood friends.”

100 APS Ninth Graders Inducted into Brotherhood for College Success

black male students smiling, brotherhood

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” These are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the affirmation for 100 Atlanta Public Schools ninth graders who were inducted into the Brotherhood for College Success.

A new APS initiative, the Brotherhood for College Success aims to provide early support to males of color that will lead to higher college enrollment and retention. The first cohort consists of ninth graders from 11 APS high schools: B.E.S.T. Academy, Carver Early College, Carver STEAM, Douglass, Grady, Jackson, Mays, North Atlanta, South Atlanta, Therrell, and Washington.

Students with a minimum GPA of 2.5 were recommended by their principals and school counselors. APS staff (counselors and graduation coaches) will support and mentor the young men until they are placed on a college campus that is a good match and fit.

“We’re tracking their grades, we’re tracking their involvement with extracurricular activities and their overall wellbeing,” said Dr. Corey Sheffield, APS college success project manager. “Our graduation coaches and counselors will do monthly interventions with the students. Every month there is a different topic of focus that they will present and work with the students on.”

Sheffield says that while most college counseling programs begin to work heavily with students during their junior year in high school, what makes the Brotherhood for College Success unique is its approach to lay the groundwork during students’ freshman year of high school. Students will be mentored individually and as a group. One of their very first assignments will be to develop an individual success plan.

“To kick off our program, we’re taking all of the young men to the Men of Color National Summit that will take place on the campus of Clemson University,” Sheffield said. “All of the conversations will have a focus on brotherhood, identity and college excellence.”

The Feb. 16 induction ceremony at D.M. Therrell High School included remarks from APS Associate Superintendent of High Schools Dr. Dan Sims, who spoke to the personal impact of brotherhood to his own success. Sims defined brotherhood as Built and Ready to Offer Time, Help and Encouragement Regularly in Hopes of Opening Opportunities Daily.

“Brotherhood over the course of my entire life has led to my success and sustains me today,” Sims said. “It’s my hope to show some parts of my life to help young brothers think about their lives right now, how they can build bonds with each other, how they can be brothers to their brothers, and how they can receive that brotherhood as well. I think it’s one of those indispensable pieces to a man’s success and hopefully this will lay a foundation for them to think more seriously about not just their own success but the success of everybody around them so that everybody can be successful.”

Students concluded the program by reciting the Brotherhood for College Success creed:

We are the young men of the Brotherhood for College Success.

We are college bound.

We are exceptional- not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.

We are dedicated, committed and focused.

We never succumb to mediocrity, uncertainty or fear.

We never fail because we never give up.

We make no excuses.

We are more than students; we are scholars.

We are more than our today; we are our tomorrow.

We are more than a gift; we are hope for another.

We are Kings.

We are Kings.

We are Kings.

We are the Brotherhood for College Success.

We are our Brother’s Keeper.

Sarah Smith Elementary Students Experience the Wonders of the Titanic

Second-grade students at Sarah Smith Elementary School were recently given a unique opportunity to experience the Titanic in a way that few ever have.

On Feb. 18, students received a firsthand look at a handful of artifacts from the Titanic that included a U.S. silver certificate, leather wallet, post card, gigantic wrench, dinner plates used by various passengers, and a broken chandelier.

They also participated in a special hands-on activity designed to help simulate a wireless telegraph used to transmit a “SOS” message – much like operators did on April 15, 1912, when the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on its way to North America. At the time, the Titanic was the most opulent passenger liner in the world, thanks to its massive size, fast mode of travel, and amenities like hot meals and running water.

According to Bretton Hunchak, president and CEO of RMS Titanic, Inc., the assembly was designed to expose children to lessons in social studies and social and emotional learning, as well as share a significant aspect of American history.

“My generation had James Cameron’s [Titanic] movie, and I don’t want the stories to be lost on this generation,” Hunchak said. “In order to immortalize the passengers and crew of the Titanic, I think re-engaging with the story and bringing it back to students through new artifacts and new storylines is the best way to do it.”

Thanks to representatives with RMS Titanic, Inc. (E/M Group), students learned even more about the shipwreck, the Titanic’s history, and how it stands today. The group visited Sarah Smith to announce its plans to return for its ninth dive this summer to recover the Marconi Wireless Telegraph, a device which transmitted telegraph signals by radio waves across oceans. The group also plans to recover additional artifacts.

During the visit, students were also shown a video about the Titanic, which carried thousands of passengers from all walks of life.

From there, the eager second graders learned several other interesting facts about the Titanic, such as: the ship carried nearly 2,300 passengers from across the world who traveled in first, second and third class – of which women and children in first class were rescued first; the water was so cold that many people didn’t survive when the ship sank; and the ship sank crashed in the middle of the night and took about five hours from the time of the crash to rescue passengers.

Only 705 passengers survived.

At the end of the assembly, students received replica boarding passes with real passenger names on them, along with a piece of coal rescued from the ship to commemmorate the experience.

Seven-year-old Molly Heller said she loved learning about the Titanic.

“Everything was rusty and old, and everything old is cool,” she said. “So many people were on the ship.”

Teacher Latifah Williams said the assembly helped reinforce key lessons for her students.

“I hope my students can empathize and learn from the history of the Titanic,” Williams said. “I also hope they will be able to practice being researchers. They can take their ‘boarding pass’ and spend time learning about those people and their lives.”

CSK Students Learn, Gain New Dance Skills From Alvin Ailey Master Teacher

Dance students at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy acquired new skills and invaluable insight from one of the industry’s brightest stars, as Alvin Ailey star dancer and master teacher Nasha Thomas led the renowned Revelations Residency student workshop at their school on Feb. 13.

Designed to cultivate self-esteem and provide an in-depth study of language arts, social studies and dance, the week-long Revelations Residency allowed students to learn from an experienced artist and gain inspiration for the art form.

Throughout the week, students learned about Ailey’s life and legacy as a dancer and artist while also exploring new modern dance techniques. They also practiced some key movements that are part of Revelations, one of the Ailey’s best-known works.

Audrey Waters-Potter, dance instructor at CSKYWLA, said the experience was especially significant for her students.

“My students now have that personal connection with the organization,” she said. “I hope they’re inspired by seeing performers who are excellent in this craft and that look like them. It lets them know they can do it too.”

Students at CSKYWLA will be further inspired during a special performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Fox Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 20. While there, they will witness Revelations, the must-see American masterpiece that has inspired millions in more than 70 countries and is considered the most widely seen modern dance work in the world.

“Mr. Ailey believed in sharing and giving back to the community. He believed that dance came from the people and should be delivered back to the people, and he always wanted his company to be accessible,” Thomas noted. “So, it’s not just enough for people to come and see us perform, but these young people are our future and they’re our future arts supporters as well. So, it’s important that they explore their creativity, their voices and have an arts experience.”

Held in partnership with the Destination Dance partnership initiative in Atlanta, the residency program and special performance aim to deepen Ailey’s commitment to the city through collaborations with arts and civic organizations, using dance as a centerpiece for engagement.

We Are APS: Toomer Media Specialist Serves on Sibert Medal Committee

Fred A. Toomer Elementary School Media Specialist Eric Carpenter had the distinguished honor of serving on the committee for The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, awarded annually to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States.

The 2020 Sibert Medal winner is Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story (written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal), “a concept book that informs from cover to cover through the lens of a contemporary family,” according to the Sibert award website. “From shape to smell, readers learn how shared traditions of fry bread transcend land, tribal nations, and time. With extensive supporting notes, Fry Bread is both joyful celebration and an important cultural history.”    

“Maillard’s jubilant, affirmative text and Martinez-Neal’s cozy, detailed illustrations portray fry bread as a means of connection to family, cultural survival, and a strong future,” said Sibert Medal Committee Chair Sally Miculek. 

Below Carpenter provides additional insight on the selection process.

How and why did you become a committee member for the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal?

Two years ago, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) nominating committee asked me to run for one of the four committee spots elected by the membership of ALSC (a division of the American Library Association). I was elected and therefore joined the committee along with three other elected members and five appointed members charged with reading and evaluating informational books for children published during 2019.

Briefly describe the process of selecting the winning book and honorable mentions (criteria, voting, stages, timeline, etc.)?

Publishers both big and small sent all of the committee members all of their informational titles published for children ages 0-14 in 2019. We read, read, and read multiple hundreds of books during 2019 looking for the most distinguished. During a completely confidential process and based on clearly defined criteria, we evaluated each book individually and in the fall each made seven nominations. Then after lots and lots of re-reading and re-evaluating, in January we met in for three days during the ALA Midwinter Meetings in a Philadelphia hotel conference room to discuss all of the books we as committee members nominated.

After many hours of secret and confidential discussion and deliberation, we voted on the titles we found to be the most distinguished. Confidentiality prohibits me from discussing the specifics of our voting, but we followed the balloting rules laid out in our award manual. In the end, we choose one award winner (Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal) and our honor books ( All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World by Lori Alexander, Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis, Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes, and This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy).

After making our award choices, the only thing left was to call each winning author and illustrator to inform them and congratulate them over phone. It is a truly incredible experience making that call and changing the life of an author or illustrator. Our award choices were made public the following day during the ALA Youth Media Award Press Conference along with the winners and honor recipients of other ALA awards, including the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award.

What is the significance of the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal (do authors receive any special recognition)?

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal was established by ALSC 20 years ago to honor the year’s most distinguished informational book for young people. Winners and honor recipients are presented their medals during ALA’s annual conference in June where they give acceptance speeches during the ceremony. The awarded books are forever adorned with metallic award seals on their covers which inevitably lead to greater sales and recognition for the books and their creators.

Are there any additional details you would like to share about your experience?

The experience was fantastic. I had previously served three terms on the Georgia Picture Book Award committee and two years on ALSC’s Carnegie Video Award Committee. Serving on award committees forges strong bonds with fellow librarians and builds professional connections with both fellow committee members as well as the recognized authors and illustrators whose books we celebrate. Though only five titles were recognized by our committee, we read many more books that were also distinguished and worthy additions to libraries and classroom bookshelves.


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 apscommunicationsoffice@gmail.com.