APS Volunteers Turn Out for Empty Stocking Fund/Santa’s Village

Santa's Village 2017 - Sign (12-7-17)

(Click here to watch a short video about Atlanta Public Schools volunteers working in Santa’s Village.)

 Once again, Atlanta Public Schools students and staff members stepped up to help make Christmas merrier for hundreds of families in Atlanta, Fulton County and DeKalb County through the Empty Stocking Fund and Santa’s Village initiatives.

Cadets in the APS high school ROTC programs collected money for several weeks during the Empty Stocking Fund campaign, raising thousands of dollars. APS employees contribute during the campaign as well. The top collecting schools, according to APS Director of Army Instruction (Retired) Colonel Prentiss O. Baker, were North Atlanta (more than $10,000) and Mays (more than $7,500).

The money collected was used to buy toys and gifts for needy families in Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb County. That’s where nearly 100 volunteers who work in the APS Center for Learning and Leadership stepped in, as they spent most of the day on Thursday bagging and distributing those toys and gifts at a warehouse on the city’s northwest side, dubbed “Santa’s Village.”

“The students love this,” Col. Baker said. “They collect the money and then when they come here they are able to see what all of their hard work went for. And we really appreciate the efforts and generous hearts of all of the volunteers. They have done something really special for the community.”


Sylvan Hills Middle School Teacher Mahoganey Jackson Picks Up Another Honor: CFP Teacher of the Month

Mahoganey Jackson (Sylvan MS) - CFP TOTM 1 (Dec. 2017)
Sylvan Hills Middle School teacher Mahoganey Jackson was honored as the College Football Playoff Teacher of the Month. Atlanta Sports Council Executive Director Dan Corso presented Jackson with a $1,000 prize to help with classroom initiatives.

(Click here to view a short video on Mahoganey Jackson, the College Football Playoff Teacher of the Month.)

The good news keeps on coming for Sylvan Hill Middle School teacher Mahoganey Jackson.

In October, she was named the 2017-2018 Atlanta Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Then on Tuesday, Jackson was named the College Football Playoff Teacher of the Month, which comes with a $1,000 prize to help with classroom initiatives.

When Dan Corso, executive director of the Atlanta Sports Council, interrupted – albeit briefly – Jackson’s lesson on the Civil War to present the award to her, there were no shrieks of surprise or tears of joy. Jackson flashed a bright smile, thanked and hugged Corso, and went right back to work, helping her students break down the lyrics of a song sung in battle by the Union Army. It was a quintessential display of Jackson’s passion for teaching and serving her students.

“I knew I wanted to be a teacher in middle school,” said Jackson, an APS alum who attended Price Middle School. She will be featured on an upcoming broadcast of WSB-TV’s “People 2 People.”

“School was like a refuge and a safe place for me, coming from a disadvantaged neighborhood,” Jackson said. “My teachers looked out for me and encouraged me, and that inspired me to be a teacher. That’s where my passion for teaching comes from.”

Mahoganey Jackson (Sylvan MS) - CFP TOTM 2 (Dec. 2017)

Kandice Mitchell Named to USA Football Board of Directors

Kandice Mitchell (Small headshot - 2017)
Kandice Mitchell, assistant athletic director for Atlanta Public Schools, was named to the board of directors of USA Football.

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, announced today that Atlanta Public Schools Assistant Athletic Director Kandice Pritchett Mitchell, a member of the gold medal-winning 2017 U.S. Women’s National Football Team, has joined its board of directors. Mitchell was named to the board by a vote of U.S. Women’s National Team alumni and formally appointed to it during a USA Football board meeting on December 4.

The USA Football Board of Directors is comprised of leaders in education, medicine, sports administration and coaching and includes former U.S. National Team athletes. Board members help USA Football establish important standards for the betterment of the sport and those who play it on high school, youth and other amateur levels.

Mitchell currently serves as the assistant director of athletics for Atlanta Public Schools. Prior to playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team that won gold at the 2017 Women’s World Championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, she studied at the University of Texas and competed as a Lady Longhorn on the school’s National Championship-winning women’s track and field team. Mitchell completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Georgia State University.

“The leadership and insight of our board inspires our office to establish significant football firsts, benefitting athletes of all ages across tackle, flag and touch,” USA Football CEO Scott Hallenbeck said. “We are pleased to have Kandice strengthen our board through her knowledge, experience and expertise.”

Mitchell is a longtime educator and coach in Atlanta-area high schools and middle schools. In her current role with Atlanta Public Schools, she facilitates the daily operations of football and 13 other sports district-wide (23 middle and high schools) and Region 6AA. Mitchell is one of only three women who serve on the board of governors for the Touchdown Club of Atlanta and the National Football Foundation. Mitchell replaces fellow U.S. Women’s National Team alumna Molly Goodwin on USA Football’s board of directors.

“This is an exciting opportunity for me to advance the world’s greatest team sport, which inspires so many life-enriching experiences,” Mitchell said. “Football has been a saving grace for me and so many others who play and coach this game. I look forward to working with a group of leaders who embody the spirit of this game and who embrace the global brotherhood and sisterhood that USA Football represents.”

USA Football educates more high school and youth coaches combined than any organization in the United States. As the only U.S. Olympic Committee member dedicated solely to football, the organization designs and delivers premier educational, developmental and competitive programs for coaches, athletes and administrators.

USA Football Board of Directors 

Gen. Raymond T. Odierno (RET), Chairman

Bobby E. Abrams Jr., Montgomery (Ala.) Jefferson Davis High School

Dawn Aponte, National Football League

Todd Berry, American Football Coaches Association

Matt Birk, American Youth Football

Tom Cove, Sports & Fitness Industry Association

Woodie Dixon, Pac-12 Conference

Bob Gardner, National Federation of State H.S Assns.

Brad Garrett, Oregon School Activities Association

Roger Goodell*, National Football League


Cody Hawkins, U.S. Men’s National Team (2011)

Leroy Hollins II, Louisiana Youth Football

Oliver Luck, NCAA

Mark Meana, Fairfax County (Va.) Youth Football League

Mark Murphy, Green Bay Packers

Elizabeth Okey, U.S. Women’s National Team (2013)

Kandice Pritchett Mitchell, U.S. Women’s National Team (2017)

Brad Smithey, U.S. Men’s National Team (2015)

Michael Strickland, Atlantic Coast Conference

*Ex officio member

Hour of Code Celebrated Throughout Atlanta Public Schools

Hour of Code at Bunche MS (2017)

(Click here to watch a short video about Hour of Coding activities at Bunche Middle School.)

Former President Barack Obama once famously said, “Don’t just play on your phone, program it.”

Scores of student throughout Atlanta Public Schools took those words to heart on Monday, as the district began its participation in an annual global movement to demystify coding and show that anybody can learn to code. The “Hour of Code,” held each year during the first week of December as part of Computer Science Education Week, is designed to introduce students to the basics of computer science and coding, giving them an even stronger foundation for success in today’s technology-driven society.

Bunche Middle School is one of several schools participating. On Sunday, two BuncheHour of Code at Bunche MS with Monica Kaufman Pearson (2017) students – Amani Bedwa and Enam Amevo – were interviewed by Monica Kaufman Pearson on her radio show on KISS 104FM. Amani and Enam talked about the importance of education, specifically in terms of computer technology.

Then on Monday, ADP associates from metro Atlanta gave Bunche Middle School students early exposure to coding in a fun, hands-on way, using a 12-level activity in Minecraft called “Hero’s Journey,” a game designed to improve critical thinking and literacy skills.

Here are various “Hour of Code” activities that will take place in other district schools this week:

— Monday, Dec. 4: Third graders at Humphries Elementary School used conduct coding activities using Minecraft, from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

 — Monday, Dec. 4: Third graders at Sarah Smith Intermediate performed activities with the LightBot computer program, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

— Monday, Dec. 4: Spanish classes at Mays High School conducted coding exercises throughout the day.

— Tuesday, Dec. 5: Students at King Middle School participate in grade-level coding sessions throughout the day.

— Tuesday, Dec. 5: Students at North Atlanta High School conduct coding activities at rotating stations in all grades throughout the day.

— Tuesday, Dec. 5: Fifth-grade students at Heritage Academy teach second graders how to do simple coding activities, beginning at 1 p.m.

— Tuesday, Dec. 5: Several Hollis Innovation Academy students attend coding sessions on the campus of Georgia Tech.

— Wednesday, Dec. 6: Students in all grade levels at Brown Middle School conduct coding activities throughout the day.

— Wednesday, Dec. 6: Students at Sarah Smith Primary School participate in a coding exercise, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

— Wednesday, Dec. 6: Students at Sylvan Hills Middle School conduct coding activities in French throughout the day.

— Thursday, Dec. 7: Students at Inman Middle School participate in coding session in science classes throughout the day.


APS Middle Schoolers Hit the Field, Learn Life Lessons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

SEC Youth Clinic 2017 at MBS
Nearly 200 students from seven Atlanta Public Schools middle schools took part in this year’s SEC Youth Football Clinic, Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The annual event is coordinated by USA Football.

(Go here to view a short video on this year’s SEC Youth Football Clinic.)

Two days before Auburn University and the University of Georgia will decide the Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 175 Atlanta Public School middle school students hit the field under the guidance of former college and National Football League (NFL) players, during the SEC Youth Football Clinic.

Sponsored by USA Football, the one-day event gives students the unique opportunity to learn lessons in football and in life in a big-time football venue. The event is held during the week of the SEC Championship Game and had been hosted at the Georgia Dome, previously.

Students from seven APS middle schools were represented at the event, Thursday (Brown, Bunche, Inman, King, Long, Sylvan and Young Middle School). They rotated through a number of stations, participating in a different football-related drill at each. At the end each student received a t-shirt, lunch courtesy of Jersey Mike’s Subs, and a football.

“I preach education,” said Michael Haynes, a 10-year NFL veteran, who played receiver for the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. He is a graduate of Northern Arizona University. “At some point, football ends for everybody. I try to get them to focus on their plan for what comes next. Education is forever.”

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to get some football instruction but also hear positive messages to help them be successful,” said Jasper Jewell, APS Director of Athletics. “And the beautiful thing is that it is specifically for our kids.”




Garden Hills Elementary Receives 2017 Georgia Department of Education Family-Friendly Partnership School Award

GHES_Family Friendly Partnership School Award
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen is joined by State Superintendent Richard Woods and Garden Hills Elementary School Principal Stacey Abbott during a special visit celebrating the school’s distinction as a 2017 Georgia Department of Education Family-Friendly Partnership School. 

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

On Tuesday, State Superintendent Richard Woods presented Garden Hills Elementary School with the 2017 Georgia Department of Education Family-Friendly Partnership Award for its exceptional commitment to fostering a welcoming environment that encourages families to become active partners in improving student achievement and success.

During the event, Garden Hills received a special plaque, a welcome mat to display at the school’s front entrance identifying its family-friendly award status, and a special professional learning opportunity provided by The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

One of five Title I schools in Georgia to receive the award, Garden Hills was praised for  maintaining and updating an older facility; reaching out to Hispanic families to register students for the school year; partnering with neighboring private school, Atlanta International School; and ensuring that disparate communities come together to form one school community through an English-Spanish dual immersion program.

Garden Hills was also recognized for establishing tours and schedules for prospective parents who would otherwise move their children to a private school. The school also partners with Passion City Church, which donates book bags and snack packs for students, and Peachtree Presbyterian Church, which sods the soccer field each summer.

“Garden Hills is committed to building relationships and focusing its efforts on a family- friendly environment and being involved is in the community,” Woods said. “This award represents that commitment to engaging with parents and the community.”


The four factors for assessing a school’s welcoming environment are: physical environment, personal contact, communication, and school practices and policies. As part of the award criteria, each winning school addressed how they are implementing the six National Parent Teacher Association Standards for Family-School Partnerships by creating welcoming environments to increase parent engagement throughout the school.

The Georgia Department of Education launched the Georgia Family-Friendly Partnership School initiative in the summer of 2010 to assist Title I schools, families, and communities in working together to create welcoming environments that lead to increased student achievement. Each school honored with the Georgia Family-Friendly Partnership School Award is designated as a Family-Friendly School by the Georgia Department of Education for five years.

Carver Advances to State Semifinals for the First Time in Nearly 50 Years!

Carver High School Football Photo
Carver advanced to the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class AAAAA semifinals for the first time since 1968, after defeating Jones County, 26-21, last Friday. The Panthers will face Warner Robins (Houston County), Friday, for an opportunity to play for the Class AAAAA state championship in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Carver is having an historic season! The Panthers advanced to the semifinals of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state playoffs after defeating Jones County 26-21, in the quarterfinals last Friday.

Quarterback Octavious Battle completed 16-of-21 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown, caught by Oquindarious Monday. Octavious also ran for 82 yards, while sophomore running back Jo’Quavious Marks ran for 106 yards. The win puts Carver in the state semifinals for the first time since 1968. The Panthers now have a record of 12-1 and will face Warner Robins (Houston County), Friday at 7:30 p.m., at McConnell-Talbert Stadium in downtown Warner Robins. The winner earns a spot in the state championship game – Dec. 8, 4:30 p.m., at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The season came to an end for the Raiders last Friday, when they were defeated by Lee County, 34-14, in the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals. Mays finished with a record of 11-2 and won the Region 5-AAAAAA championship for the second consecutive season.