APS’ First STEM-Certified School Now STEAM Certified

Atlanta Public Schools first STEM certified school is now STEAM certified.

Congratulations to Principal Margul Woolfolk and the entire M. Agnes Jones Elementary School student body and staff for conquering this milestone.

STEAM certification is awarded to schools that offer high-quality education that integrates science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the arts. The certification review was conducted by a team of 18 representatives from the Georgia Department of Education and educators from around the state.

In 2017, M. Agnes Jones became the first APS school to receive STEM certification. Based on its strong existing arts program and strong community partners, M. Agnes decided to pursue STEAM certification in 2018. On April 15, 2019, State Superintendent Richard Woods delivered the official STEAM certification banner to M. Agnes Jones.

Superintendent Woods was met with a warm welcome by students, staff, District leadership, including Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan — and, of course Ramsey the robot!

‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Actress Visits Inman Middle School

On April 17, Inman Middle School had a special visit from actress Mary Badham, who portrayed Jean Louise “Scout” Finch in the 1962 film adaptation of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Badhma was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress — the youngest actress nominated in this category at the time.

“I’m so glad to be here and that your teachers thought it was important enough for me to be here,” Badham told an audience full of eighth graders.

Badham talked about her experience as a young child on set, race relations, and the power of education.

The 1961 Pultizer Prize winning novel provides a view of racial injustice through the lens of its 6-year-old female protagonist Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. When a black man is accused of rape in 1930s Alabama, Scout’s dad Atticus accepts the role as his lawyer.

Like Scout, Badham is a self-professed tomboy and also grew up in Alabama.

“When I grew up in the 50s and 60s, not much had changed since the 30s,” Badham said. “The races were separated. If a Black boy so much as looked me in the face, he could’ve been beaten or killed, and nobody would’ve said anything.”

Drawing the connection to today, Inman interrelated teacher Dr. Stephen Alfred shared statistics about the disproportionate amount of unarmed African Americans who are fatally shot by police compared to whites. He encouraged students to be change agents.

“You are the game changers,” Dr. Alfred said. “Be the problem solvers. When all you can do is react, you become a problem creator, and there’s a whole other system for that.”

The question and answer portion ended with Badham asking students to repeat the following mantras.

“Ignorance is the root of all evil.”

“Education is the key to freedom.”

Burgess-Peterson Academy’s Tracey Pendley a Top 10 Finalist for 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year

Tracey Pendley, 2018-2019 Excellence in Teaching Award winner, is a finalist for 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year.

Tracey Pendley, 2018-2019 Atlanta Public Schools Districtwide Excellence in Teaching winner, has been named a top 10 finalist for the 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year program. Pendley is a fourth-grade teacher at Burgess-Peterson Academy.

“We’re very proud of Tracey here at BPA and are excited to have her represent APS and our school community at the state-level competition,” said Principal David White.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods today announced the 10 finalists for 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year.

Woods announced Pendley along with nine other teachers as finalists from a pool of applicants all previously selected as their school district’s Teacher of the Year.

The applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past Georgia Teacher of the Year winners, administrators, community leaders and others. The finalists were chosen based on the strength of their essay responses.

“The ten 2020 finalists for Georgia Teacher of the Year are an exceptional group of educators and I’m proud to call them my colleagues,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Each one of them exemplifies what a teacher should be – caring, skilled, knowledgeable and intellectually curious, and first and foremost, laser-focused on the well-being, potential and success of their students.”

Finalists met with a panel of judges for a formal interview and gave speeches during a finalist luncheon. The winner will be announced Saturday, May 18, 2019.

The 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year will travel around the state and the nation, serving as an ambassador for the teaching profession in Georgia. He or she will also be entered in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Tracey Pendley and her students at Burgess-Peterson Academy.

Principal Robin Christian Selected for 2019 Georgia State University Principals Center Award for Leadership

Robin Christian, principal of Barack and Michelle Obama Academy, has been selected as the 2019 Joe Richardson Award Recipient by The Principals Center at Georgia State University. Christian will receive the honor during GSU’s Annual New Principals Celebration, to be held Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center, near downtown Atlanta.

Robin Christian, The Principals Center at Georigia State University 2019 Joe Richardson Award Recipient

The Joe Richardson Award for Exemplary Leadership is named in honor of the founder of the Principals Center at Georgia State University, Dr. Joe Richardson, who was inspired by Dr. Roland Barth, formerly of Harvard and the founder of the Principals Center movement. This award is given annually by the Principals Center. The principal nominated for this award is an educational leader who is considered highly competent and successful within the school district and among his/her professional peers. The Award is given to a principal who most represents the mix of leadership attributes that provides for a school environment where both students and staff excel and who exemplifies the characteristics of an instructional leader within a community of learners and leaders.

Christian is a native of metropolitan Atlanta, a proud product of the public school system, and an alumna of Spelman College. Upon graduation from Spelman, she immediately began her career with Atlanta Public Schools where she has served for almost 22 years as a teacher at Bethune Elementary, Instructional Liaison Specialist at Mary Lin Elementary, and Principal of Burgess Peterson Academy. Currently, she serves the Peoplestown community of Atlanta as a turn-around principal at Barack and Michelle Obama Academy, where she is committed to the total development of children while supporting and coaching teachers to ensure their development as teacher leaders.

Over the years, Christian has been a part of several leadership development programs including SABLE, which aimed to develop the leadership potential of aspiring principals. She serves as a Principal Mentor to first year principals in Atlanta Public Schools’ Principal Mentor Program and is proud to have had several faculty members complete the yearlong district Aspiring Assistant Principal Program. She is appreciative that she is able to provide input on various school and district related issues as a member of the Superintendent’s Principal Advisory Council. Additionally, she is honored to be representing Atlanta Public Schools as the first cohort of principals participating in the prestigious 2018 Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Principals at Teachers College, Columbia University. Christian is a 2011 Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education recipient, a 2018 Atlanta Magazine’s Women Making a Mark honoree, and is the recent recipient of the 2019 Ethel Mae Mathews Courage and Character Award from Emmaus House Atlanta.

Her two most memorable events continue to be: 1.) hosting former First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit during her tenure as principal of Burgess Peterson Academy and 2.) when the school where she presently serves was renamed to honor both President and Mrs. Obama. Christian truly loves working with school communities and partners to make a difference for all children. She is very passionate about being a voice for the underserved and does not believe in having low expectations for children based on zip code or socioeconomic status. She works tirelessly to build partnerships that will provide resources for her students and their families.

In her spare time, Christian enjoys spending time with her husband, Neal Christian, and her children, Kennedy Robbins, age 17, Kenneth Robbins, Jr. age 14, London Christian, age 10, and her godson, Caden, age 5. She is a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and is extremely active in her church and community. Her favorite quote is, “I am not anxious to be the loudest voice or the most popular, but I would like to think that at a critical moment, I was an effective voice of the voiceless, an effective hope of the hopeless” (Whitney Young). Robin Christian strives daily to put this quote into action as she serves her school and community.

APS Schools Participate in Eighth Annual KITES Science and Engineering Festival

APS students went into spring break on a high note, ending the month of March with the Eighth Annual Kids Interested in Technology, Engineering, and Science (KITES) Science and Engineering Festival. The event was held on March 29 at Scott Elementary SchoolG.A. Towns ElementaryCoretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA), and John Lewis Invictus Academy.

There were a variety of exhibitors from multiple career fields ranging from packaging to education. The students enjoyed hands-on activities that allowed them to understand what was happening scientifically through creating it. Students at CSKYWLA for example, created soda, organic face masks, and tested for contamination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

K.I.T.E.S. encourages and motivates students to explore their options for the future. APS is dedicated to creating an environment that cultivates the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, business leaders and scientists.

C.W. Long Middle School Holds Second Annual STEM Fair

This STEM mural at C.W. Long Middle School is courtesy of Hands On Atlanta.

Musicians, pilots, police officers and nurse practitioners were just a few of the professions represented at Crawford W. Long Middle School’s second annual STEM Fair on April 12.

“The whole purpose of the day was college and career-based STEM,” said Tanya Barrett, STEM program specialist. “As we work towards our STEM certification, our goal is to build leaders and to help students get to college and start careers. Hands-on opportunities allow our students to see themselves in new ways, and it allows teachers to see students respond to content differently.”

Students rotated to different STEM sessions throughout the day. STEM professionals also joined classrooms for discussions. Barrett says students particularly enjoyed the police officer who discussed how STEM is used in investigations. The Black Pilots Association talked to students about aviation, a nurse practitioner talked about the medical profession, and Make Music Count founder & CEO Marcus Blackwell showed students how to engage with math through music.

The Make Music Count app is an innovative math curriculum for grades 3-12 that teaches students how to master fractions, graphing, algebra and pre-calculus through popular music. (Blackwell is offering free licensing through the summer to any interested APS school. Just email marcus@makemusiccount.com for details.)

Other hands-on activities included photography, robotics and spheros, operating 3D printers and drones and building model bridges with cue tips and marshmallows. The model bridge project illustrated engineering concepts and was facilitated by Field of Dreams, a nonprofit with the goal to expose under-served students to STEM.

The day concluded with students who put the “A” in STEM; that is, the “arts.” Representatives from Billionaire Buddies guided students in 45-minute sessions, where they learned how to count beats, write music, devise a social media marketing plan, and rehearse. Select groups performed their original lyrics and dances to a small group of peers.

#APSRace2Read Update: Let’s Up the Momentum!

Yes, testing season is approaching. That means the District is reading more than ever! As you’re preparing for your 2019 Georgia Milestone Assessments, be sure to log all those minutes of reading to count towards our #APSRace2Read goal of 13.1 million minutes!

Below is a snapshot of how we are progressing (as of April 10).

Top 10 Schools

#APSRace2Read at Morris Brandon Elementary
SchoolMinutes Logged
Morris Brandon Elementary484,980
Sutton Middle 345,232
Springdale Park Elementary325,430
Morningside Elementary294,564
Sarah Smith Elementary288,596
John Lewis Invictus Academy264,529
Long Middle School253,257
Grady High School248,609
Miles Elementary245,827
Garden Hills Elementary235,095

Top 10 Making Progress

SchoolMinutes Logged (since March 26)
Long Middle School19,830
Morris Brandon Elementary19,210
Heritage Academy17,477
Grady High School17,409
Sutton Middle12,161
John Lewis Invictus Academy11,604
Garden Hills Elementary10,290
Usher-Collier Elementary8,029
Finch Elementary7,234
Morningside Elementary6,193

Top 10 Adult Readers

NameMinutes Applied ToMinutes Logged
Juliette JohnsonCSKYWLA14021
Jason MooreHutchinson Elementary12681
Eric CarpenterToomer Elementary11590
Linda GreenCentral Office10922
Oreta CampbellHumphries Elementary9470
Melissa Dandy WalkerCentral Office7898
Deanna HastyNorth Atlanta High7230
Leslie BadgerHutchinson Elementary5834
Ketchia WoodsHollis Innovation Academy5235
Victoria KoehlerCentral Office5010

About APS Race2Read: On Nov. 6, 2018, Atlanta Public Schools launched our district-wide literacy campaign, APSRace2Read. This challenge was designed to encourage students, teachers, staff and parents to read daily and collectively reach 2 million minutes of reading by the end of the 2018-2019 academic year. Since surpassing our original 2 million minutes goal in January, we have raised the bar to 13.1 million minutes—the equivalent of a half marathon of reading! Learn more about Race2Read and log your minutes at www.beanstack.com/race2read!