Atlanta Public Schools Partners with Comcast to Get Our Kids Connected

Program to provide low-income families with internet connections and computers that support distance learning 

Get Our Kids Connected

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) has partnered with Comcast to launch the Get Our Kids Connected campaign to support low-income families. Through its Internet Essentials program, Comcast will work with APS to solicit financial support from individuals and organizations to sponsor students with low-cost, high-speed internet and computers.      

“A growing number of students attending Atlanta Public Schools do not have internet service or the technology in their homes to stay connected,” said Jason Gumbs, Comcast Regional SVP in Atlanta. “This disparity creates significant barriers for our students, particularly during a time when so many of us are required to work and learn from home.”

Get Our Kids Connected is powered by Comcast’s Internet Essentials program – the nation’s leading low-cost broadband adoption program. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Internet Essentials speeds have been permanently increased for all customers. Any new customers who connect will get 60 days of internet service for free and will only pay $9.95 per month thereafter.

“As we closed schools for teleschooling and teleworking in response to COVID-19, we needed more help from partners to close the digital divide and keep our students connected,” APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen said. “Comcast responded to our call in a great and generous way!”

“This program will not only provide our families with resources that support distance learning during the COVID-19 crisis, it also provides resources that will help supplement and enrich the education our students are receiving in our classrooms moving forward,” said APS Board Chairman Jason Esteves.  “We are grateful to Comcast and all of the program’s donors.”

For $300, contributors can give the gift of connectivity, which will provide students with a laptop and an internet connection for 12 months. APS has identified a pilot group of 1,000 students with an immediate need, which sets the fundraising goal at $300,000. 

Trinity HealthShare, a 501(c)(3) non-profit health care sharing ministry, is the first major donor with a $50,000 contribution to kick start the campaign, followed by Atlanta Tech Village with a $10,000 contribution.

“At Trinity, we believe every child should have access to all available resources in their time of need; this is one of those times,” said Trinity HealthShare CEO William “Rip” Thead. “We see the children of Atlanta Public Schools as ‘our children’. When we became aware of the opportunity to provide laptops directly to students who normally would go without, we wanted to take immediate action. This $50,000 donation is what we believe will be a jump start for reducing the technology gap for our children in the City of Atlanta.”

Both Comcast and APS have already made strides toward getting an initial group of students enrolled in the program.

Because the COVID-19 crisis has forced schools across the country to close and transition to e-learning, Get Our Kids Connected is looking to the business, nonprofit and philanthropic communities. Donating to the fund will meet the urgent need to get APS kids and families connected immediately with personal devices and connectivity in their homes for the long term.

Those interested in donating can do so by visiting www.atlantapublicschools.us/getourkidsconnected.

Atlanta Public Schools se asocia con Comcast para conectar a nuestros hijos     

Programa para proporcionar a las familias de bajos ingresos conexiones a Internet y computadoras que apoyen el aprendizaje a distancia.     

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) se ha asociado con Comcast para lanzar la campaña Get Our Kids Connected para apoyar a las familias de bajos ingresos. A través de su programa de Internet Essentials, Comcast trabajará con APS para solicitar apoyo financiero de individuos y organizaciones para patrocinar a los estudiantes con Internet y computadoras de bajo costo y alta velocidad. 

“Un número cada vez mayor de estudiantes que asisten a Atlanta Public Schools no tienen servicio de internet o la tecnología en sus hogares para mantenerse conectados”, dijo Jason Gumbs, vicepresidente regional de Comcast en Atlanta. “Esta disparidad crea barreras significativas para nuestros estudiantes, particularmente durante un tiempo en que muchos de nosotros estamos obligados a trabajar y aprender desde casa”.

Get Our Kids Connected funciona con el programa Internet Essentials de Comcast, el programa de adopción de banda ancha de bajo costo líder en el país. En respuesta a la crisis de COVID-19, Las velocidades de Internet Essentials se han incrementado permanentemente para todos los clientes. Cualquier cliente nuevo que se conecte recibirá 60 días de servicio de Internet de forma gratuita y solo pagará $ 9.95 por mes a partir de entonces.

“Cuando cerramos las escuelas y comenzamos el aprendizaje y el trabajo en línea en respuesta a COVID-19, necesitábamos más ayuda de los socios para cerrar la brecha digital y mantener a nuestros estudiantes conectados”, dijo la superintendente de APS, Dra. Meria Carstarphen. “¡Comcast respondió a nuestro llamado de una manera excelente y generosa!”

“Este programa no solo proporcionará a nuestras familias recursos que apoyan el aprendizaje a distancia durante la crisis COVID-19, sino que también proporcionará recursos que ayudarán a complementar y enriquecer la educación que nuestros estudiantes reciben en nuestras aulas en el futuro”, dijo Jason Esteves, presidente de la Junta de APS.    “Estamos agradecidos con Comcast y todos los donantes del programa”.   

Por $ 300, los contribuyentes pueden dar el regalo de la conectividad, lo que proporcionará a los estudiantes una computadora portátil y una conexión a Internet durante 12 meses. APS ha identificado un grupo piloto de 1,000 estudiantes con una necesidad inmediata, lo que establece la meta de recaudación de fondos en $ 300,000. 

Trinity HealthShare, un ministerio 501 (c) (3) sin fines de lucro para compartir la atención médica, es el primer donante importante con una contribución de $ 50,000 para iniciar la campaña, seguido por Atlanta Tech Village con una contribución de $ 10,000.

“En Trinity, creemos que cada niño debe tener acceso a todos los recursos disponibles en su momento de necesidad; este es uno de esos momentos “, dijo William” Rip “Thead, Presidente de Trinity HealthShare. “Vemos a los niños de Atlanta Public Schools como ‘nuestros hijos’. Cuando nos dimos cuenta de la oportunidad de proporcionar computadoras portátiles directamente a los estudiantes que normalmente no tendrían, quisimos tomar medidas inmediatas. Creemos que esta donación de $ 50,000 será un impulso para reducir la brecha tecnológica para nuestros niños en la ciudad de Atlanta “.     

Tanto Comcast como APS ya han avanzado mucho para lograr que un grupo inicial de estudiantes se inscriba en el programa.

Debido a que la crisis de COVID-19 ha obligado a las escuelas de todo el país a cerrar y hacer la transición al aprendizaje electrónico, Get Our Kids Connected está buscando las comunidades comerciales, sin fines de lucro y filantrópicas. La donación a este fondo satisfará la necesidad urgente de que los niños y las familias de APS se conecten de inmediato con dispositivos personales y conectividad en sus hogares a largo plazo.

Los interesados en donar pueden hacerlo visitando      http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/getourkidsconnected. 

Race2Read Update: Long, Sarah Smith and TAG Win Winter Reading Challenge + Top Adult Readers!

With more than 7 million minutes of reading logged, Atlanta Public Schools students, staff and community partners continue to Race2Read 20 minutes daily towards our 10-million-minute goal. Here is an update on our top readers!

Winter Reading Challenge Winners

Crawford Long MS (Principal Lisa Hill), Sarah Smith ES (Principal Emily Boatright), and Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy (Principal Yolanda Weems) are our victorious winners of the Penguin Random House Winter Reading Challenge! These three APS schools will share $50,000 worth of books and author visits with libraries and schools across the nation who read and logged the most minutes during the month of January.

Top Schools

Below are our top 10 schools in terms of minutes logged. Please note: total minutes logged for each school is not disclosed, rather the percentage of school goal is listed below, as each school has an individual goal based on the number of enrolled students. TAG Academy is leading in both minutes logged and percentage of school goal met!

SchoolPercentage of School Goal Met
1. Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy100%
2. North Atlanta High School36%
3. Crawford Long Middle School85%
4. Morris Brandon Elementary School49%
5. Garden Hills Elementary School79%
6. Sarah Smith Elementary School35%
7. Deerwood Academy 99%
8. Sylvan Hills Middle School88%
9. Hollis Innovation Academy44%
10. Mary Lin Elementary School29%

Top Adult Readers

NameAffiliationMinutes Logged
1. Lorrae WalkerHollis Innovation Academy15,838
2. Ketchia WoodsHollis Innovation Academy15,726
3. Joi WilliamsTuskegee Airmen Global Academy13,170
4. Oreta Hinamon CampbellHumphries Elementary School12,710
5. Shanna MilesSouth Atlanta High School7,942
6. Lindsey KilgoreHumphries Elementary School7,219
7. Jestine TaylorTuskegee Airmen Global Academy6,480
8. Patrick BaughmanCommunity Partner5,730
9. Marijane SandersCommunity Partner5,150
10. Letitia GreenCommunity Partner5,140

Kudos to the Patrice Laird-Walker and Jennifer Saunders of the APS Media Services team and our wonderful medial specialists across the District for leading our Race2Read! To learn more and join the race, go to www.beanstack.com/race2read

ELDER Art Installation to Preserve Tree and Honor Historic Community

Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen and Inman Middle School Principal Kevin Maxwell participate in brushing the tree outside of David T. Howard Middle School, which will be used as a sculptural installation. Photo credit: Patrick Addy

In an effort to commemorate the restoration of the historic David T. Howard Middle School and to honor the ongoing legacy of nature, history, and citizen-led advocacy, APS officials recently joined several community members and representatives from the Freedom Park Conservancy ​to announce ELDER, a site-specific public art project.

A sculptural installation by Atlanta-based artist Masud Olufani, the project will incorporate the shared histories of the David T. Howard school site, the Helene S. Mills Senior Center, and the Old Fourth Ward community into the project. Original plans for the redevelopment of the site included the loss of 60 mature and historic trees on the property, including some more than a century old.

Atlanta-based artist Masud Olufani and Nancy Boyd, vice chair of the Freedom Park Conservancy, discuss the details of the ELDER project. Photo credit: Patrick Addy

To address the loss of these trees, concerned neighborhood citizens initiated an appeal process—facilitated by Trees Atlanta —in which APS and project firms Stevens & Wilkinson and Lord Aeck & Sargent devised a revamped plan that ultimately resulted in the additional benefit of preserving several trees and increased capacity for public engagement via public art.

During the Feb. 28 ceremony, the 150-year-old tree was unveiled. Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen, members of the Atlanta Board of Education, and others participated in brushing the tree of debris, all in an effort to prepare it for installation.

“It serves as more if a simple way to engage and connect with the tree – much like preparing the body in transition for the next phase of the creative process,” explained Nancy Boyd, vice chair of the Freedom Park Conservancy. “We started using the brushes early on when engaging elders in the project as a simple productive way to engage. We view it as more spiritual or ceremonial.”

Olufani’s installation will transform a 100-year American elm into a sculpture that incorporates the histories of David T. Howard High School, the senior members of the community, and the historical importance of trees to the Freedom Park community into a combined artistic narrative.

“Freedom Park enjoys a unique designation as an Atlanta public art park,” Freedom Park Conservancy Board Chair Harriett Lane said in a press release. “And with ​ELDER,​ we look forward to using public art as a platform to bring community, nature, and history together in a really amazing way.” 

The finished ELDER sculpture will be installed in Freedom Park, across from the David T. Howard Middle School, will be on public display from March through October 2020 in commemoration of the reopening of the school in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.

This public art​ ​project is funded, in part, by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Georgia Council for the Arts. This project is also generously​ ​supported by Meredith Artley and Naka Nathaniel.

For more information about ​ELDER, please visit​ :​http://www.freedompark.org/fpc/​ or contact Nancy Boyd at nancy.boyd@gmail.com.

Grady Jesters Win 11th State Debate and Speech Championship

The Henry W. Grady High School Jesters Speech and Debate Team have done it again! The team competed at the Georgia Forensics Coaches Association (GFCA) at Lassiter High School in Marietta on March 6-8. The Grady Jesters brought home first-place championships in the debate and speech sweepstakes, marking the 11th consecutive win for the team!

Here are the 2020 GFCA results:

Lincoln-Douglas Debate: Peter Haynes, quarterfinalist; Griffin Richie, 2nd speaker and champion

Policy Debate: Assata Nkosi, 2nd speaker; Daniel Wakefield, top speaker; Assata Nkosi and Daniel Wakefield, semifinalists

Public Forum Debate: Everett Stubin and Duncan Tanner, quarterfinalists

Extemporaneous Speaking: Bryant Hodgson, semifinalist; Declan McCarthy, semifinalist; Maeve Malaney-Lau, 5th place; Oliver Grady, 4th place; Sarah Likins, 3rd place; George Lefkowicz, 2nd place; Tyler Jones, champion

Impromptu Speaking: Bryant Hodgson, semifinalist; Sarah Likins, 4th place; Declan McCarthy, 3rd place; Oliver Gray, 2nd place; Lucia Fernandez, champion

Informative Speaking: Dana Richie, 5th place; Matthew Vincent, 4th place; Tyler Jones, champion

Original Oratory: Elise Isakov, 5th place; George Lefkowicz, 3rd place; Lucia Fernandez, champion

AND FROM VARSITY STUDENT CONGRESS IN FEBRUARY:

Senate: George Lefkowicz, 2nd place; Tyler Jones, champion

House: Max Murphree, finalist; Will Tanner, finalist; Sayan Sonnad-Joshi, finalist; Lucia Fernandez, finalist; Oliver Gray, finalist; Jorge Navarrete, 3rd Place; Nicolas Kamel, champion

The wins mark seven individual state champions, including three state championships for Tyler Jones. Congratulations to the Grady Jesters!

March SEL Books of the Month Promote Perseverance

This month, our Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen encourages everyone across the District to read books that explore problem solving. Our social and emotional learning (SEL) books for the month of March are all written by Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize: Malala’s Magic Pencil for elementary readers, I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) for middle school readers, and I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban for high school readers.

March: Perseverance

We set and achieve realistic goals, both immediate and long term, by maintaining our focus and using a growth mindset.

Book Summaries

  • Malala’s Magic Pencil (elementary school readers) – As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. Malala saw a world that needed fixing. This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the world view that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.
  • I Am Malala (for middle and high school readers) is a memoir that details the early life of Yousafzai, her father’s ownership of schools and activism, the rise and fall of the Taliban, and the assassination attempt made against Yousafzai, when she was aged 15, following her activism for girls’ education.

SEL Competency

Self-management skills allow individuals to handle daily stresses and control their emotions under difficult situations. Students’ capacities to regulate their emotions impact student memory and the cognitive resources they use on academic tasks. Self-management skills include the ability to monitor and reflect on personal and academic goal-setting. Academic self-regulation has important implications for student motivation in the classroom, as well as the learning strategies students use to master material.

Several copies of each book are available at school libraries/media centers and can also be found in myBackpack via Class Pass @APS.

Douglass Girls Basketball Team Repeats as State Champions!

The Douglass girls’ basketball team did it … again!

The Astros won their second consecutive Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class AA state championship on Thursday afternoon, defeating Southwest Macon, 56-46, in what was essentially a home game for Southwest as the state championship games are played at The Centreplex in Macon.

Douglass trailed 13-12 after the first quarter, but fought back to take a 27-21 lead at halftime. The Astros eventually built a 41-28 lead late in the third quarter. Southwest Macon made a run and cut the lead to 46-44 with just under four minutes remaining in the game, but the Astros outscored the Patriots 10-2 the rest of the way to seal the win.

Douglass was led by senior guard Kayla Sesberry, who scored 25 points to lead all scorers. She ended Southwest’s comeback attempt in the fourth quarter by scoring four consecutive points to push the Astros’ lead to 50-44 with a little over two minutes left in the game. Fellow senior Ikenya King scored 13 points and was dominant underneath the basket with 16 rebounds. Also, Destiny McKee scored 10 points, Zhaniya Moreland and Michelle Payne scored four points, and Yolanie Johnson and Ashley McKee each scored two.

The repeat championships by the Astros, who finished the season with a record of 26-5, is the first ever for the school and the first for Atlanta Public Schools since the Maynard Jackson girls track team won the Class AAA championship in 2015 and 2016.

Therrell boys come up just short

The Therrell boys’ basketball team’s bid to join the Douglass girls team as back-to-back state champs fell just short, as the Panthers were defeated, 69-65, by Swainsboro, in the Class AA boys’ finals, following the girls’ game Thursday in Macon.

The Panthers trailed 35-23 midway through the second quarter, but battled back to trim the deficit to 35-29 at halftime. Going into the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 50 and Therrell eventually took a 59-56 lead, but the Tigers closed on a 13-4 run to win the championship.

Therrell, which finished with a record of 26-7, was led by senior Resean Frederick, who scored 23 points to lead all scorers in the game. Fellow seniors Calvin Miller scored 16, Cameron Fortson scored nine, Roman Son scored eight, and Justin Worrill scored five, while sophomore Caleb Smith scored four points. 

As an added honor for the school, the Panther dance team, which finished second in the region and qualified to compete in the state dance competition, was selected by the GHSA to perform at halftime of the game. 

B.E.S.T. Academy Hosts First STEM Invitational

B.E.S.T. Academy hosted its first-ever STEM invitational on Feb. 27, a day-long event where 50 boys from TAG Academy, M. Agnes Jones, Cleveland Elementary, and Centennial Academy flexed their scientific and technological muscles while participating in various coding and robotics competitions.

Sponsored by the Atlanta-based Henry and Beverly Respres Foundation, the program was designed to serve as a pipeline opportunity for STEM education while exposing and providing younger students with hands-on science, technology, engineering and math activities.

During the event, students participated in circuits designed to teach the basics of coding, as well as robotics, mechanical engineering, and computer programming. In addition to making DIY lightsabers and learning about electricity, students also mastered the basics of programming a robot to make a square and travel through an obstacle course.

Other activities included creating makeshift cars using rubber bands, Popsicle sticks and plastic bottle caps to mimic a wheel and axle, as well as assembling airplanes to fly straight across the room.

STEM coordinator Marlon Alfaro said the program was designed to enhance students’ learning in a fun, yet stimulating environment.

“I want students to think that STEM is cool and fun, and that it’s interesting when they see the application,” Alfaro said. “I also want them to feel empowered that the things they’re learning in school they can apply that knowledge and have the ability to do those things. When they learn they can do it, there’s a sense of accomplishment.”

Jeremy Stready says he said a fun time learning new skills.

“I like it,” said Jeremy, a fifth grader at Cleveland Avenue Elementary School. “It’s something new.”

“I like that we can do so many things with coding,” said Randy Rios, a B.E.S.T. Academy sixth grader, who was on hand to assist the elementary students. “I also like that we make planes that can fly.”

His classmate, Vozjeon Cook, helped students build a rubber band-powered car.

“I love building new things, and I love using rubber bands,” he said.

According to Principal Dr. Timothy Jones, the program also served as a recruitment tool to attract prospective students who are matriculating through a STEM pathway.

“We are celebrating achievement and academics, and all the components of a STEM education – whether it be coding, engineering, the design process, innovation and creativity – as an opportunity for kids to work with our students,” Dr. Jones said. “We’re excited. This has been a real foundational opportunity for us to become a direct feeder for STEM pathways for grades 6-12.”

Assistant Principal Dr. Yamilsa Roebuck agreed.

“We wanted to provide seamless transition and let students know that there are options for them,” said Roebuck. “B.ES.T. has always been the best kept secret. We want parents and students to know that B.ES.T. is here, and we are working and pushing through, and we have a lot of options for our young men.”

Following the event, three students were crowned winners and received drones as top prizes. Sidelharth Gupta of Centennial Academy took home first prize, followed by second-place winner Anthony Daniel of M. Agnes Jones Elementary School. Justin Mohammed, who attends TAG Academy, placed third.