Yoga is a Discipline at Kimberly Elementary School

“I am present in this room right now. My intention is to focus.”

Legs crossed and palms to the sky, a group of six third-grade students repeated this mantra one by one. In a dim-lit classroom at Kimberly Elementary School, Panthers Yoga had begun. 

“We’ve had challenges with behavior and emotional outbursts that were causing disruptions in in-class instruction,” said Early Intervention Program (EIP) teacher Stephanie Bagley, who is assigned to third grade. “I wanted a holistic solution.”

So, Bagley applied for and was awarded a $500 Federation of Public Service Employees grant to empower students through yoga, meditation and social-emotional learning. Bagley leads 45-minute yoga sessions three days a week.

The pilot program began Feb. 3 and will run through the end of the school year. One way in which Bagley will measure success is by noting changes in the amount of behavioral referrals for student participants since joining Panthers Yoga.

Students must choose to join the yoga session and dedicate at least a month to the process. Reassessments are done each month to check-in on student progress and their willingness to continue.

“This program is not punitive. It’s also not an incentive. It’s about discipline,” Bagley said. But not in the traditional sense. “True discipline also means to be focused and dedicated to a task. This teaches them to be in the now, in the present.”

On Feb. 13, the yoga session included meditation, stretching and a read-a-loud of “The Mindful Dragon” by Steve Herman. Students shared things that keep them calm, including pets, teachers and parents.

Bagley has been practicing yoga for nearly 20 years. A former Atlanta Public Schools teacher from 2001 to 2010, she rejoined APS as an EIP teacher in July 2018.  

Panthers Yoga is a “compilation of my growth as an educator over the years,” Bagley said. “I thought, ‘What can I do differently?’ I wanted to bring something new and useful for my kids, especially in the Therrell Cluster. Our SEL initiative is so awesome. This new vision for the District with Dr. Carstarphen lends a space for receptivity for this work.”

Interested in starting yoga at your school? Email Stephanie Bagley at stephanie.bagley@atlanta.k12.ga.us for insight.

Interested in applying for a grant to fund your SEL idea? Grant opportunities are available through the Social Emotional Learning Innovation Fund. Learn more and apply here.

Kindergarten Round-Up (March 11-13, 2019)

Do you know of any little ones who will turn the ripe old age of 5 before Sept. 1, 2019? If so, please help us to “round them up.”

Atlanta Public Schools Kindergarten Round-Up is an orientation program for rising kindergartners and their parents. It’s an opportunity for parents to register their child for kindergarten and get an early start to a brighter future.

To enroll a child in kindergarten, parents are asked to visit their zoned schools between March 11-13 and bring the registration documents listed here.

Questions about Kindergarten Round-Up? Please contact your zoned school, visit www.atlantapublicschools.us/KinderRoundup, or call 404-802-3640.

Kimberly Elementary Kicks Off Black History Month

On Feb. 11, Kimberly Elementary School started the week with a Black History Month bang! The Monday morning program began with “Lift Every Voice & Sing” performed by Principal Joseph Salley and Turnaround Specialist Dr. Samara Ryce.

“Our Black History Month kick-off assembly and our celebration of the contributions of African Americans was important as we continue to instill pride in our young people,” said Principal Salley. “They must know that Black people are more than the negative stereotypes that are displayed in the media.  They must know that they have the potential to be great no matter their circumstances.  The entire month at Kimberly will be filled with activities that will amplify their pride in themselves and their community.”

School media specialist and communications ambassador Birgitta D. Johnson says the school-wide program aimed to keep motivation high for Black History Month as we approach winter break. According to Johnson, students were very engaged in the program and offered thunderous applause for singing staff members, who surprised students with their wealth of talent.

Students in third through fifth grades performed songs and skits based on several poems, including “Hey, Black Child” by Countee Cullen, “Ain’t I A Woman” by Sojourner Truth, and “I, Too” by Langston Hughes.

Students cheered the loudest for the fifth-grade girls who performed the “Ain’t I A Woman” skit.  

The assembly was attended by all grades during two different performances.

APS Digital Bridge Program Provides Laptops and Hotspots to 6,000 Middle School Students

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) is closing the “homework gap” for 6,000 middle school students — every 6th and 7th grader in the District — through its new APS Digital Bridge Program. The program is providing students with a Windows laptop equipped with a T-Mobile 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot which connects to T-Mobile’s network to provide high-speed internet for homework and studies when Wi-Fi is not available. APS Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen and T-Mobile representatives launched the new initiative at a kickoff event held Feb. 8 at Brown Middle School. 

The Digital Bridge Program is powered by a $1.45 million award from the T-Mobile EmpowerED Program; APS operating funds, including $3 million APS will invest this school year; and $1.5 million the District will invest next school year, thanks to the voter-supported E-SPLOST, as well as other programs and resources.

The goal of the APS program is to bridge the digital divide and ensure that students have a seamless experience with digital resources and 21st century learning from school to home. APS has invested in a suite of digital tools to assist students with learning in all academic subjects as well as support for learning after school through online tutoring assistance.

“Our APS Digital Bridge Program is equipping our middle school students with the tools they need to succeed both in school and at home where the learning continues by providing them with high-quality laptops and a high-speed internet connection,” said Dr. Carstarphen. “This initiative comes at a time when technology is integral to our students’ success, and we are so thankful to T-Mobile and our other partners for investing in APS and in the tremendous potential that each of our students represents.”

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, one-fifth of adults who lived in households with annual incomes less than $30,000 were “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet or a device at home.  In APS, 75.7 percent of all students meet the federal poverty guidelines and are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

T-Mobile’s EmpowerED initiative is aimed at bridging the “homework gap” – the uneven playing field that exists when millions of low-income students are unable to access the digital tools necessary to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. 

“T-Mobile believes every child deserves the tools they need to be successful in today’s fast-paced, digital world, and our EmpowerED program furthers this goal of helping the next generation reach their full potential,” said David Bezzant, senior director, Public Sector at T-Mobile.  “Atlanta Public Schools is going all-out for their students with an incredible suite of tools and resources available on devices through their Digital Bridge program – a best-in-class execution of what the T-Mobile EmpowerED program can truly offer.”

In addition to T-Mobile, APS has enlisted other partners including Lenovo, Tutor.Com, Prosys, and Microsoft to provide a suite of digital resources for students.

W-I-N-N-E-R-S: Four Students Place In District Spelling Bee

W-I-N-N-E-R-S (from left): Eden Mew (fourth place), Billy Mehar (second place), Joshua Chelliah (first place) and Dot Keathley (third place).

“O-C-A-R-I-N-A. Ocarina.” landed on the ears of the judges and crowd like music played from the vessel flute that defines the word and declared Sutton Middle School eighth grader Joshua Chelliah the first-place winner of the Atlanta Public Schools’ 58th Annual District Wide Spelling Bee.

Held on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at John Lewis Invictus Academy, this year’s spelling bee lasted for 14 rounds. Sarah Smith Elementary fourth grader Billy Mehar placed second, Inman Middle School seventh grader Dot Keathley placed third, and Morris Brandon Elementary fifth grader Eden Mew placed fourth.

The top four winners will represent APS at the Georgia Association of Educators’ Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Decatur Library Auditorium.

“Each year the APS Spelling Bee grows in participation,” said Jermal L. Riggins, K-5 Literacy Coordinator. “Our kids are truly excited to be here and our parents come out in full force to support them. We’re so proud of our families and communities.”

APS WeatherWise Provides Online Learning Options for Students During Inclement Weather Closings

When inclement weather strikes the Atlanta area, there are times when school closure is necessary to keep students and staff safe. APS WeatherWise was developed to prevent learning loss and provide students with instruction to supplement the missed classroom time. Online learning is a natural remedy to the loss of class time during school closures because students are already adept with using the technology and have access to the lessons at home, and it easily allows students to continue learning without extending the school calendar.

What is APS WeatherWise?
APS WeatherWise is a program designed to provide students with assignments from their core teachers when APS is closed for inclement weather.

Why APS WeatherWise?
Online learning is a natural remedy to the loss of class time during school closures because students are already adept with using the technology and have access to the lessons at home through the myBackPack platform.

How does APS WeatherWise work?
After the second day of a school closure, APS may determine that the day is an APS WeatherWise Day. Students will access assignments in their APS WeatherWise folder in their Google Classroom.

What if students don’t have power or access to the Internet?
If students don’t have the ability to complete their assignment, they will have up to 2 weeks after they return to school to complete the assignment.

How do students access APS WeatherWise?

  • Through an Internet connection; navigate to https://mybackpack.apsk12.org
  • Students should enter their APS student computer login id.
  • The myBackPack screen will load with your unique username and password.
  • Click on your Google Classrooms to locate your WeatherWise lessons for each of your classes.
  • For questions or concerns, please contact your classroom teachers.

For more information on APS WeatherWise, visit the APS WeatherWise website.

Nine Authors/Illustrators at Fickett Elementary Publish Picture Books


Meet the Young Authors (top to bottom, left to right): John Ethan Drake, Dalena Carroll, Brooklyn Stowers, Kemina Lane, Israel Wray, Kai Hankerson, Da’lilah Street, Deandra Byrd and Ashton Dious.

Fickett Elementary School has nurtured nine new authors, who both wrote and illustrated their very own picture books.

  • Deandra Byrd, author/illustrator “The Mystery of Maria,” wants to be an artist and an author.
  • Dalena Carroll, author/illustrator of “My Awesome Magnificent Totally Cool Life,” wants to be a writer.
  • Ashton Dious author/illustrator of “Creepy Night on Rux Road,” wants to be a professional basketball player.
  • John Ethan Drake, author/illustrator of “Aoura,” wants to be an architect.
  • Kai Hankerson, author/illustrator of “Anggie’s Galaxy Academy,” wants to be a lawyer.
  • Kemina Lane, author/illustrator of “Confessions of a Smart Kid,” wants to be a cake artist and an art teacher.
  • Brooklyn Stowers, author/illustrator of “The Evil Eyelash Queen’s World of Weird Things,” wants to be a fashion designer.
  • Da’lilah Street, author/illustrator of “The Mystery of Mr. Hinestein,” wants to be a cardiologist.
  • Israel Wray, author/illustrator of “Pepe the Frog and the Beanstalk,” wants to be a teacher.

Creative writing teacher Julillian Davis recruited students in September and met with the young authors every day from October to December to polish their manuscripts. On Jan. 25, the nine young authors debuted their work in a panel discussion and book signing at Fickett Elementary School.

“Today exceeded my expectations,” Davis said. “It was everything I imagined and more, so I am excited to continue the program and be able to provide this experience to more students.”

Interested in purchasing a picture book? Please email Julillian.Davis@atlanta.k12.ga.us.