It’s Official! M.A. Jones Elementary is APS’ First Certified STEM School

M.A. Jones ES STEM celebration 1
Georgia Schools Superintendent Richard Woods (Back row, left to right), APS Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen and M.A. Jones Elementary School Principal Margul Woolfolk celebrate with students at a ceremony to honor M.A. Jones’ official recognition as a STEM school.

After five years of hard work, it was party time at M. Agnes Jones Elementary School on Tuesday as the school celebrated becoming the first Atlanta Public School to earn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) certification.

The school held a pep rally featuring Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen and State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods. Prior to the raM.A. Jones ES garden (carrots)lly, Dr. Carstarphen and Woods were taken on a tour of the school’s urban farm where students are growing lettuce, spinach, carrots, collards and basil. Students are also caring for the farm’s two chickens – Coco Puff and Valentine.

M.A. Jones Principal Margul Woolfolk said the five-year journey to become a certified STEM school was well worth it. Instead of teaching science, technology, engineering and math in isolation, the STEM schools feature an integrated curriculum driven by problem solving, discovery, exploratory project/problem-based learning and student-centered development of ideas and solutions. It helps prepare students for success in the 21st century workforce.

M.A. Jones ES STEM celebration (Dr. C and robot)“I wanted this to be sustainable for the long term, and so it took some time for all of our teachers to be certified in STEM. Also, being a charter system gave us autonomy with our funds so that we could adequately support STEM,” Woolfolk said. “It’s having an impact on our students and the community.”




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Burgess-Peterson students get on board STE(A)M truck

The STE(A)M truck will be parked at Burgess-Peterson Academy for 20 days.
The STE(A)M truck will be parked at Burgess-Peterson Academy for 20 days.

By Leslie Rivera

Curious second and third graders at Burgess-Peterson Academy got their first hands-on experience with the school’s new STE(A)M truck this week.  Students were able to touch and play with items on the mobile learning facility which is dedicated to the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math experience.

Burgess-Peterson Academy students explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math on the STE(A)M truck.
Burgess-Peterson Academy students explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math on the STE(A)M truck.

The truck serves as a mobile innovation lab and allows students to tackle problems using real tools and modern technology under the guidance of community experts. Children and local artists worked together to tinker, design and build solutions in a fun, educational environment. The students’ first challenge was to create an object made of paper using at least three folds that could hold pennies.  The student whose design held the most pennies won.

Principal Robin Robbins is excited that students have the opportunity to collaborate at this level. “I am hopeful that my students will take advantage of authentic learning by engaging in projects which use critical thinking and problem-solving while sparking students’ interest in STEAM related careers,” said Ms. Robbins.

Community Guilds, which operates the truck, facilitated funding from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA). The grant allows student access to the mobile maker for 20 days.

Burgess Peterson Students take on a challenge in the STE(A)M truck.
Burgess-Peterson Students take on a challenge in the STE(A)M truck.

Principal Robbins applauds the non-traditional approach, “Globally students must begin to learn how to collaborate on real world issues with teams. The experience will also hopefully launch our students into careers and educational opportunities where minorities have been underrepresented. Having the STEAM truck here for 20 consecutive days will allow my students the opportunity to execute a plan from beginning to end”.

The truck will be parked at Burgess-Peterson until the end of the school year, a great way to make a lasting impression on these inspiring young minds!

Whitefoord Elementary School Celebrates the 100th Day of School


Pre-K, kindergarten, and first-grade students at Whitefoord Elementary School celebrated the 100th day of school in technology-based, interactive learning centers themed around the number 100.

Whitefoord Elementary, in collaboration with Public Broadcasting Atlanta, was the recipient of a Peg + Cat  100th Day of School PBS KIDS media lab.

Whitfoord2014-022Grounded in a rich math curriculum, Peg + Cat is PBS KIDS’ newest series and focuses on helping children build math skills. This series offers transmedia content, which features a robust online experience, on-air content, and mobile apps designed to extend math learning across the curriculum.

Activities included online and mobile math games through use of Kindle Fire devices that were donated to Whitefoord as a tool from the PBS KIDS media lab, hands-on activities for all learning styles, and informal learning spaces.

Whitfoord2014-159“Math is a priority in the Jackson cluster,” said Tim Foster, Whitefoord Elementary’s principal.

“We are always researching and planning innovative, hands-on math lessons for our students,” said Christie Johnson, Whitefoord’s instructional coach.

Students used inexpensive grocery items to create a “100” collage that they can re-create at home. The grocery items were donated by the neighborhood group Organized Neighbors of Edgewood.

“We want to support innovation in our neighborhood schools and provide opportunities to connect home and school and extend learning outside the classroom,” said Garry Long, president of ONE.


Peg + Cat airs on PBA TV Channel 30 Monday through Friday at 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. To learn more about Peg + Cat, visit

Peg + Catwas developed as part of the CPB-PBS Ready to Learn Initiative and is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Public Broadcasting Atlanta is a broadcast service of Atlanta Public Schools.





North Region Math and Science Night

Parents and students are invited to attend the North Region Math and Science Academic Showcase for a fun, informative, interactive parent workshop on Common Core curriculum lessons for grades K-12.

Thursday, January 23, 2014
Harper-Archer Middle School
3399 Collier Drive
Atlanta, GA. 30331
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Thursday, March 20, 2014
North Atlanta High School
4111 Northside Parkway
Atlanta, GA. 30327
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

For more information, please contact the North Region Family Engagement Specialist at (404) 802-6559.


Coan Middle: Greatest Student Achievement Growth from APS Middle Schools

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Sammye E. Coan Middle School earned the greatest gains in student achievement out of all 6th to 8th-grade Atlanta Public Schools traditional schools according to results of the Spring 2013 Criterion-Reference Competency Tests (CRCT). Dr. Betsy Bockman, who is beginning her second year as principal at Coan, along with her team, have been lauded for identifying strategies and purposeful interventions that have yielded student growth.

Coan’s progress reflects a cluster-wide effort as the entire Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School cluster worked collaboratively throughout the school year. The administrators and teachers met on a regular basis to analyze the data cluster wide, evaluate their teaching practices, and share strengths and weaknesses. In addition, students in 3rd through 8th grade in the cluster, including Coan, Toomer, Whitefoord, and Burgess-Peterson Academy, had an opportunity to attend 3 hours of classes on Saturdays. The Saturday classes were held for 20 weeks at Toomer Elementary, and had at least 100 students in attendance each session.


Last year, Coan started an Individual Learning Plan (ILP), an initiative where every student set personal goals to reach in each content area. The students and parents met with an advisor three times during the school year, to establish goals and monitor their progress. They used benchmarks from the CRCT, computer adaptive testing, and additional assessments to keep students focused on their goals during the school year. The ILP resulted in 80 percent of the students meeting or exceeding their goals last school year.

Mathematics continues to be the leading focus at Coan, as students now attend two math periods per day.

“Early on last year, we noticed that math was a serious deficit area for our students,” says Dr. Betsy Bockman, Principal at Coan. “We knew the students needed more math, and as a result, every student at Coan has two math periods per day.”

One math period is dedicated to grade level content, and the second math period is tailored to the needs of each student. This individualized math class is dynamic and flexible, offering both accelerated and remedial math.

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 10.59.21 AMStudents who did not meet requirements and are retained this year will receive additional support to be successful. A graduation coach will work with each student, and a mentor will be available for additional guidance. The ILP will add more support to ensure academic success and improve school attendance and behavior.

“My experience at Coan was a struggle in the beginning, but my teachers and uncle always motivated me to put forth more effort,” says Racresha Brown, 8th grader at Coan Middle School. “I went to afterschool tutoring, did my homework, makeup work or any extra credit that would bring up my scores. When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian or a pediatrician, so I’m willing to do all my work to reach my goals.”

Coan is looking forward to students and staff building on their success from last year, and continues to work closely with the Maynard Jackson High School cluster in providing the best educational environment for their students. They are committed to college and career readiness, and strive for every student to succeed.

Coan Student Starts Math Tutoring Program

Transitioning from middle school to high school can be quite a challenge for most incoming freshmen, but Uwezo Flewellen II has taken on the challenge and exceeded the expectations of most.  Uwezo is a pre-IB student at Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School and an alumni of Coan Middle School.  His love for math and dedication to student achievement led him to create a math-tutoring program called “Simple Math Today,” which is offered to students at Coan Middle School.

Uwezo teaching[1]

Uwezo one on one[3]Although math can be a challenging subject, Uwezo believes that all students can achieve success in math by incorporating a peer-to-peer modeling technique. This technique supports students with their math assignments and builds the students’ self-confidence to tackle new math skills.  High school students who volunteer with Simple Math Today receive service hours for their time and talent.

Uwezo maintains a 3.5 GPA while being active in drama club, chorus, and his youth group at Impact Church. He often volunteers in the community and helps classmates with their projects as well.  Uwezo plans to continue offering tutoring to After School All Stars students at Coan Middle, and he hopes to offer the program to more ASAS Atlanta sites in the future.

Uwezo and his students[3]

– written by Debbie Vassell Mitchell, Media Specialist at Coan Middle School

Benteen Celebrates National Pi Day


On March 14th, Benteen Elementary celebrated National Pi Day with exciting, educational activities.  In class, students participated in exercises related with the never-ending number Pi. Students measured circular objects to prove that every circle’s circumference is about 3.14 times longer than the circle’s diameter.  They also created color-coated paper chains representing digits of Pi, and each student decorated one or more paper plates with a designated Pi number.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 7.57.06 PM“After completing grade level specific Pi Day activities, the entire student body formed a line outside to emulate the vastness of the number pi,” says Shenita Vaughn, Instructional Coach at Benteen. Students held their Pi numbers proudly as they lined up outside the school.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 7.57.59 PMFor the final activity, the students of the month were allowed to throw pies at teacher volunteers. A total of 12 pies were thrown with a ripple effect of laughter and excitement. It was a memorable experience for Benteen students and faculty as they celebrated their appreciation for the number Pi.