APS Partners with WINGS to Support Students’ Social and Emotional Learning

Afterschool Program Serving Underrepresented K-3 Students Launching at Hutchinson Elementary School


ATLANTA – Atlanta Public Schools (APS) announced today its partnership with WINGS for kids, an education nonprofit focused on social and emotional learning, or SEL, as part of APS’ targeted rollout of SEL efforts throughout the district. Starting Aug. 29, WINGS for kids will provide daily educational programming focused on teaching SEL skills, such as relationship building and responsible decision-making, in an afterschool setting to K-3 students at Emma Hutchinson Elementary School.

WINGS for kids will be the only afterschool program in APS focused solely on supporting kids’ social and emotional learning.

“Social and emotional learning is a district-wide initiative that prioritizes the teaching of critical skills our students need to thrive.  Through SEL, we are able to explicitly teach our students skills such as managing their emotions, creating positive relationships, and setting goals,” said APS Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen.  “Our partnership with WINGS’ innovative afterschool program will enhance the critical SEL instruction our students receive during the school day.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, WINGS serves more than 1,400 underrepresented students in schools across three states. With the addition of the Hutchinson Elementary School site, the Atlanta area is now the organization’s largest region. Hutchinson Elementary is also one of the most ethnically diverse schools WINGS serves, and therefore, the site will be led by a bilingual program director to better support the school’s large Latino population.

“WINGS is entering our fifth year of service in Fulton County Schools, and we are thrilled to expand our area of service in metro Atlanta with this new partnership with APS,” said Denise Blake, Atlanta executive director at WINGS for kids. “Our 20-year history of social-emotional skills delivery is a perfect fit for APS’ renewed focus on making SEL a district-wide priority, allowing us to help close the achievement gap among some of the district’s most vulnerable students.”

In addition to its partnership with WINGS, APS’ transformative work in SEL includes the rollout of an SEL strategy to 65 APS campuses serving Pre-K through 12th grade students with an SEL curriculum and other programming components.


APS media contact - Kimberly Wills GreenAbout Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 97 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters, 87 schools that include 16 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies. For more information, visit www.atlantapublicschools.us


About WINWINGS media contact - DeniseBlakeGS for kids

WINGS for kids is a nonprofit education program that teaches kids how to behave well, make good decisions and build healthy relationships. The program weaves a comprehensive social and emotional learning curriculum into a fresh and fun afterschool program—specifically targeted toward supporting low-income, minority students. Kids get the life lessons they need to succeed and be happy, and a safe place to call home after the school day ends.


August 26, 2016 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is among Atlanta’s Most Admired CEOs


By: Jasmine Mosley

On Thursday, Aug. 25, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen was honored by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the “Most Admired CEOs” in the city of Atlanta. Under the education category, Dr. Carstarphen ranked among 50 leaders of renowned institutions. Other honorees included Mark Becker (Georgia State University), Bud Peterson (Georgia Institute of Technology), Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice (Morehouse School of Medicine), and Stuart F. Gulley, Ph.D. (Woodward Academy).

Over 500 guests attended the ceremony, which was held inside the Georgia Aquarium Oceans Ballroom. Each nominee received special recognition and was asked to deliver brief remarks. Dr. Carstarphen cheerfully engaged the audience with the “APS chant” and acknowledged her fellow colleagues. She also highlighted her mentee and 2016 B.E.S.T. Academy valedictorian, Qwantayvious Stiggers, as a person whom she admires and seeks advice.

The “Most Admired CEO” awards ceremony is held annually and recognizes established metro Atlanta leaders who are committed to excellence and have a unique approach to leadership. These leaders also have a demonstrated record of community outreach.

The 2016 class of nominated CEOs were chosen by the community during a special voting process held this past summer.

August 25, 2016 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

Richard Elder is Named CTAE Teacher of the Year

Richard Elder_CTAE Teacher of the Year

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Richard Elder, a veteran construction teacher at Alonzo A. Crim Open Campus High School, was recently named the 2016-2017 Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Teacher of the Year. The CTAE Teacher of the Year selection is based on submission of recommendations from administrators, student work, and a description of how the nominee has gone above and beyond in the service of students.

Elder is the first Atlanta Public Schools Work-based Learning coordinator to receive the CTAE honor, which is awarded to the top 20 worked-based learning coordinators in Georgia.

“I work diligently to provide not only classroom instruction, but real-world experiences for my students as a CTAE construction teacher,” said Elder, who has also been recognized as a 2016 Work-based Learning Top Gun Recipient. “After years of hard work and perseverance, I am humbled and pleased to receive this award.”

Elder began his APS teaching career at Carver Comprehensive High School in 1982, and remained there for 20 years before transitioning to Crim Open Campus in 2002. The construction program at Crim is currently the only one of its kind at APS.






August 23, 2016 at 11:35 am Leave a comment

Dobbs Elementary School Program Bridges the Gap Between Education and Opportunity

By Donovan Harris

“The power is in your hands. You are their first teacher. Education starts at home.”

These are the wise words of Peyton Rhone, secretary at Dobbs Elementary School, as she led an introductory meeting for parents at the Kids Matter 21st Century AfterSchool Program at Dobbs on Monday, Aug. 15.

Unlike typical after-school childcare services, Kids Matter offers a two-fold program where parents are also empowered and educated alongside their children through workshops that deal with bullying, as well as cooking and parent-student painting classes. The parents involved in this program receive an all-around support group experience.


Kids Matter also offers a GED Preparation program for its parents.

“If our parents commit to these GED Preparation classes that we offer here, they are guaranteed to pass the GED test.”, Ms. Rhone proclaimed.

Rhone is a testament to this program. Thanks to the partnership between the National Center for Families Learning and Toyota, Rhone was able to receive her GED and later become a college graduate.

“A family that learns together, excels together,” she said. “I have seen that in my own life and through the lives of my children.”

Throughout the evening, Rhone emphasized to parents that receiving her GED opened many “unimaginable” doors. She shared that her GED led her to  a job that ultimately aligned with her passion.

“Having my GED made it that much easier to achieve my goals,” she said.

The Kids Matter parent kickoff will be held at Dobbs Elementary School on Saturday, Sept. 17. at 9 a.m.

August 18, 2016 at 3:34 pm Leave a comment

Atlanta Public Schools Students Receive Awards from the Atlanta Citizen Review Board

By: Donovan Harris

How would you describe the police officers patrolling your neighborhood? On Monday, Aug. 15, students from the Atlanta Public Schools gathered at the Atlanta City Hall to accept awards from the Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB), an organization that promotes public confidence in law enforcement, in honor of projects created in response to the statement, “Police Officers Are _________”. The students produced original essays and works of art to express their personal ideas surrounding the completion of that statement.



First-place essay winner and Mays High School senior Jasper Harrison

First- place essay winner and Benjamin E. Mays High School senior, Jasper Harrison, is an avid writer and poet. Moved by the recent events of police shootings and the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Jasper believes that both police and the community share equal responsibility in the relationship between law enforcement and the community.


Adriunna Purnell, a third-grader at Kimberly Elementary School and third runner-up in the art contest, draws a picture depicting the helpful police officers in her neighborhood.












Grace Clarke, second runner up and a Grady High School junior, writes about her community’s patrol aptly named “Midtown Blue” which she describes as a reliable and hardworking group.

“Midtown Blue acts as the eyes and ears of the Midtown community. Midtown Blue has three goals: reduce crime, ensure that people feel safe and secure, and to respond quickly to traffic and other incidents.” -Grace Clarke 



In partnership with Greenbriar Mall, the Mall West End and the Atlanta Fulton County Public Library, winners of the ACRB “Police Officers Are_______” contest, received a proclamation from the Atlanta City Council to commemorate each student’s hard work and positive contributions to the relationship between the police and the community.


Contestants and families pictured  in the Old Chambers at the Atlanta City Hall





August 17, 2016 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Head of the Class: Thomasville Heights Elementary Students Welcome a New School Year


THES_First Day of School

Second graders at Thomasville Heights Elementary are excited about the new school year.


By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Earlier this week, hundreds of bright-eyed students at Thomasville Heights Elementary School were greeted with smiling faces as they entered freshly painted doors, excited and ready to learn on their first day of school. School started for these youngsters on Wednesday, July 27 – one week sooner than the rest of Atlanta Public Schools students, who begin Day One on Aug. 3.

From the looks of it, students at Thomasville Heights have every reason to be excited. Thanks to a new partnership model with Purpose Built Schools, Thomasville Heights is now a school on a mission. With an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics and project-based learning, Thomasville Heights is designed to replicate the success of Drew Charter School. Purpose Built now serves as the partner organization responsible for the instructional and operational management of both schools.

Day 1_THES_Student

To ensure successful student outcomes, Thomasville Heights will continue its pre-K program and offer several enrichment classes such as dance, music, art, robotics, technology and Spanish, as well as literacy and math intervention and an after-school program. Social-emotional learning is also part of the curriculum.


Dr. Nicole Evans Jones, chief operating officer, said this school year marks a special beginning for Thomasville Heights.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to meet all of our kids and families and deliver the Drew model to some very deserving students,” Dr. Jones said. “We look forward to providing improved outcomes. This is a great partnership.”


July 28, 2016 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

Social Emotional Learning Expands in Atlanta Public Schools with New Grant

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, Office of Prevention and Family Support Selects Atlanta Public Schools for $345,000 Grant to Support Award-Winning SEL Program

The Office of Prevention and Family Support, within the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) has awarded over $345,000 in grant funds to support Atlanta Public Schools’ Social Emotional Learning (SEL) initiatives that include the implementation of the Second Step and the Child Protection Unit (CPU) curriculums. APS received the largest award amount and has the most schools implementing Second Step curriculum in Georgia. Grant disbursements, which began July 1, 2016, will continue through September 12, 2016.

The Second Step program is an award-winning SEL curriculum for early learning through grade eight, created by the Seattle-based nonprofit, Committee for Children. The program teaches skills for learning self-regulation, empathy, emotion management, friendship and interpersonal problem solving. When the program is taught and reinforced school wide, staff and students develop a common language, set of explicit skills and a framework for pro-social norms and expectations. Overall, Georgia DFCS has awarded more than $500,000 in grants to schools throughout the state looking to implement the Committee for Children’s Second Step program.

“APS has made Social Emotional Learning a district priority and we are committed to making sure all students have welcoming, nurturing, respectful and supportive school environments where they are physically and emotionally safe,” said APS Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen, Ed.D. “We are grateful for the generous support of DFCS as we implement SEL strategies that support whole child development.”

By fully implementing Second Step and the Child Protection Unit, Dr. Carstarphen said students will be able to understand who they are, understand and respect diversity, advocate for themselves and others, as well as develop the skills needed to be successful in school and in life.

“We are thrilled to be able to play a part in promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families in Georgia communities,” said Carole Steele, Director of OPFS. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with schools, non-profit organizations and parents to impart the knowledge, skills, resources, and social support they need to provide safe, healthy, nurturing relationships and environments for our children.”

As APS continues its transformative work, this grant will support elementary schools that are onboarding SEL curriculum for the first time. Additionally, APS will roll out SEL strategy to 65 APS campuses that will serve Pre-K through 12th grade students. Full district-wide implementation will occur in the fall of 2017.


July 22, 2016 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

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