Forrest Hill Academy Receives Grant Worth Nearly $100K from Lowe’s

Forrest Hill Grant from Lowe's (2018)
Forrest Hill Academy recently received a grant for nearly $100,000 for the innovative manner in which the school is addressing the school’s climate through Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Pictured are (L-R) Emmitt Jackson, East Point Lowe’s store manager; Dr. Kimberly Rosenberg, Forrest Hill SEL coach and author of the grant; and Dr. Zawadaski Robinson, Forrest Hill principal.

The Lowe’s Gives Foundation recently awarded a $94,049.64 grant to Forrest Hill Academy (FHA) for Addressing Trauma through Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Tranquility, and Kinesthetic. Forrest Hill Academy will use the grant to build an outdoor classroom, create a sustainable garden, add peace corners to the classrooms, and beautify the inside of the school.

“This grant will have a huge impact on our school and the community,” said Dr. Kimberly Rosenberg, the school’s SEL coach. “We have a high performing principal and great teachers dedicated to educating every child. Now, with the support from Lowe’s, we will enhance our current space so that it is representative of the passion and dedication brought forth by the staff.”

Elijah Barnes, current 6th grade student ambassador at FHA found out about the grant and was excited. “it makes me feel special that Lowe’s would want to donate so much money to us,” he said. “Changing the way our building looks can help us change our minds and behaviors.”

Carver Early College High School Named to U.S. News & World Report List of Top High Schools

US News and World Report Logo (2018)

Carver Early College High School has been recognized as one of the top high schools in America by U.S. News & World Report.

Carver Early College was awarded the “Bronze” distinction by U.S. News & World Report in its highly anticipated annual list of the nation’s “Best High Schools,” released Wednesday, May 9, 2018.

The magazine recognized Carver Early College for its 99 percent graduation rate, as well as the math proficiency and reading proficiency of its students, which are both higher than the district and state averages. This year, there are 114 students in the Carver Early College graduating class of 2018. Eighty-five (85) percent of the graduates are going to college.

U.S. News & World Report’s Best High Schools rankings evaluate more than 20,500 public high schools nationwide to identify schools that best serve all of their students – including historically underserved populations – and assess the degree to which students are prepared for college-level coursework. The Best High Schools rankings, available exclusively on, feature data on a number of factors, including enrollment, graduation rates, diversity, participation in free and reduced-price lunch programs and the results of state assessments, as well as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test data.

Go here to learn more about Carver Early College High School.


APS to Host Four Regional Community Meetings on FY2019 Budget

Graphic for Regional Community Meetings for FY2019 Budget

Atlanta Public Schools will host four community meetings to garner feedback on the district’s proposed $815 million budget for the 2018-2019 school year.

At each meeting, APS Finance Executive Director Lisa Bracken will explain the district’s budget building process and discuss key aspects of the proposed spending plan for next school year. Meeting attendees are invited to ask questions and give feedback during the hour-long meetings. Here is the schedule (all meetings are from 6-7 p.m.):

  • Thursday, May 10 at Grady High School (929 Charles Allen Drive, NE)
  • Monday, May 14 at Bunche Middle School (1925 Niskey Lake Road, SW)
  • Thursday, May 17 at Brown Middle School (765 Peeples Street, SW)
  • Monday, May 21 at Garden Hills Elementary School (285 Sheridan Drive, NE)

The Atlanta Board of Education will vote on adopting the proposed budget on Monday, June 4.

For more information, contact the APS Office of Finance at 404-802-2400.

Crawford Long Middle School Receives National Counseling Program Designation 

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Crawford Long Middle School counselors Shalonda Stinson, Dr. Tony Jones and Shirley Hale

In a first for Atlanta Public Schools, the school counseling program at Crawford Long Middle School has been designated as a Recognized American School Counseling Association (ASCA) Model Program (RAMP).

One of the most prestigious designations bestowed in the school counseling arena, the RAMP designation recognizes schools for delivering a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program in an exemplary educational environment. Since the program’s inception, nearly 650 schools in the United States have received the RAMP designation.

To earn the designation, Long Middle School used data to drive its program development and implementation so all students can achieve success. Counselors will be recognized on Monday, July 16, at the ASCA annual conference.

Maria Grovner, APS counseling coordinator, said the designation is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the school’s counselors, Shirley Hale, Dr. Tony Jones and Shalonda Stinson, and Principal Lisa Hill.

“It is a rigorous process that takes into account collecting and analyzing data of work done with and on behalf of students,” Grovner said. “It takes commitment to earn and maintain the designation. Acquiring the RAMP designation shows that the counselors have gone above and beyond what they are required to do. Furthermore, it means you can clearly answer the question, ‘How are students different as a result of what school counselors do’?”

Long is the first Atlanta Public School to have received RAMP designation.



Dr. John Blackwell and Ingrid Gonzalez Named 2018 STAR ESOL Teacher and STAR ESOL Student by Georgia Department of Education

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Dr. John Blackwell of Sarah Smith Elementary School and Ingrid Gonzalez, a senior at Benjamin E. Mays High School, have been named the 2018 Georgia Department of Education STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher and top STAR ESOL student, respectively. Both were surprised with the special recognition on Thursday, April 19.

Meet this year’s winners:

Dr. John Blackwell – STAR ESOL Teacher

Dr. John Blackwell 2018 STAR ESOL Teacher
Dr. John Blackwell, center, rear row, is surrounded by his students, as well as Principal Dr. Michael Forehand and Associate Superintendent Tommy Usher 

While serving as a fourth-grade teacher, Dr. Blackwell identified a need to more effectively serve his growing English learner population. During the 2013-2014 school year, he completed the ESOL endorsement at APS and became an ESOL teacher at Sarah Smith the following school year. In 2017, he received the school’s Multicultural Ambassador Award.

Dr. Blackwell’s ESOL classroom is characterized by active engagement, student inquiry, problem-solving, innovative use of technology, project-based learning, and collaboration. Rather than positioning himself as a dispenser of knowledge, he actively seeks to create student-directed learning experiences that honor the funds of knowledge ELs bring to his classroom. A facilitator and co-explorer, he encourages learners to question, challenge and formulate their own ideas, opinions and conclusions.

For the past two years, Dr. Blackwell has organized and implemented with the assistance of his ESOL colleagues an after-school tutoring program that focuses on increasing reading and math achievement for English learners at Sarah Smith. The tutoring program currently serves 62 English learners.

Dr. Blackwell also sponsors “Reading Reward Dinners,” a program he created to inspire his students to love reading. Once students meet their reading goals, he takes them out for dinner at a restaurant using his own money to fund the award. Praised for his positive influence on peers, students, and families, Dr. Blackwell is known for finding ways to connect parents to the learning happening in his classroom.

Dr. Blackwell’s other responsibilities include serving on the literacy committee and the La Amistad Advisory Committee and presenting during ESOL professional learning communities to his ESOL colleagues throughout the district. His classroom often serves as a model classroom for new and existing ESOL teachers.

“Dr. Blackwell is a teacher-leader who is committed and invested in his school community,” said Margaret McKenize, coordinator in the Office of Teaching and Learning. “Dr. Blackwell is dedicated to his students and his school. The commitment and passion he demonstrates for serving English learners, their families and his colleagues have rightly earned him the title of 2018 GADOE STAR ESOL Teacher.”

GaDOE 2018 STAR ESOL Student
STAR ESOL student Ingrid Gonzalez and her Maria Moses, ESOL teacher at Benjamin E. Mays High School

Ingrid Gonzalez – STAR ESOL Student

A native of Mexico, Ingrid Gonzalez began attending Atlanta Public Schools in third grade at Fain Elementary School, and later matriculated to Harper-Archer and Young Middle schools. She currently has a 3.5 GPA and has taken several honors level course, as well as Advanced Placement European history, AP Spanish and AP psychology classes. Ingrid serves as president and founder of the school’s Cultural Diversity Club; president of Skills USA; vice president of Beta Club; and is a member of Future Business Leaders of America, the National Honor Society and BELLES.

Maria Moses, ESOL teacher (and 2016 GADOE STAR ESOL Teacher) at Mays High School, referenced Ingrid’s compassion for others, her dedication and her commitment as defining characteristics.

Moses said that Ingrid immediately stood out in ninth grade.

“As an ESOL student, Ingrid made it her duty to immediately connect to all ESOL newcomers, ensure that they felt comfortable in all of their classes, and inform parents about basic supplies that students needed at school,” Moses said.

In 2015, Ingrid decided to create a club where diverse students would come together and celebrate one another’s uniqueness. The Diversity Club was formed. Since its formation, the club has  invited several motivational speakers, civic leaders and former ESOL students and parents.

“Under Ingrid’s leadership, the club has created fantastic programs for the school, including celebrations for Hispanic Heritage Month and International Day.”

After graduation, Ingrid plans to attend college. Although Ingrid hasn’t decided where she will attend, Ingrid is committed to achieving her dreams and helping others along the way. She has received several scholarships and admission letters from numerous schools.

“She truly is a STAR student,” Moses said.

Office of Student Services Hosts Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony

2018 Volunteers - group shot
The Office of Student Services hosted the annual Student Services Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony on Thursday, April 19, to honor APS volunteers, donors and partners.

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Volunteer Appreciation Program On Thursday, April 19, the Office of Student Services hosted its annual Student Services Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony to express gratitude to Atlanta Public Schools volunteers for the amazing work they do to support schools and improve students’ lives.

Held at the Cleveland L. Dennard Conference Center at Atlanta Technical College, the ceremony honored 20 individual volunteers, donors and partnering organizations. The event was held in recognition of National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, to celebrate people in action and the importance of community outreach.

During the ceremony, APS social workers demonstrated their appreciation by offering remarks and presenting their school’s respective partners and donors with commemorative plaques. Associate Superintendent of Student Services Tammie Workman also recognized several APS partners and volunteers for collectively making a difference in students’ lives.

“Thank you for spreading kindness, concern, effort, resources, time, and your commitment for APS schools, students, and families,” Workman said. “I read somewhere that ‘success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.’ You all should be able to sleep well as you are using your own special talents and abilities for the betterment of our future…and that is the investment in our kids. We are so very thankful for you and all that you do.”

Some of those partners include:

  • The Atlanta Police Department and MARTA truancy officers;
  • Vision To Learn and Onsite 20/20 for providing students with free eye exams and glasses;
  • The Anti-Defamation League for working with school counselors to implement inclusive and supportive activities for all students through the “No Place for Hate” campaign;
  • The Atlanta Community Food Bank for feeding nearly 10,000 APS students and families;
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., for collecting hygiene packs and backpacks for homeless children; and
  • Watchman Warriors for donating coats, hats, scarves, backpacks and school supplies to students in need

“This was a valuable opportunity to recognize our partners and to show how much we appreciate and value their work,” said Social Work Services Coordinator Dr. Jacquelyn Anthony,  who coordinated the event. “We are so grateful to them for helping meet the needs of our students.”

Click here for a complete list of this year’s honorees.




APS Salutes Paraprofessionals: Meet Regina Edward of Garden Hills Elementary School

Regina Edward

By: Alicia Sands Lurry

Atlanta Public Schools proudly salutes paraprofessionals across the District. In recognition of Paraprofessional Appreciation Day, which was celebrated earlier this month, APS honors the nearly 600 full-time and hourly paraprofessionals who provide support to our teachers in the classroom every day to ensure every student succeeds.

One such paraprofessional is Regina Edward, who works as a pre-K parapro at Garden Hills Elementary School. A paraprofessional since 2016, Edward previously served a pre-school director, pre-school teacher, and an applied behavior analyst for children requiring specialized behavioral and academic therapy before starting her career at APS.

Having spent her entire career working with young children, Edward will tell anyone who asks that her work as a paraprofessional is more than just a job – it is a mission.

In fact, it was Edward’s love for education, as well as her passion and commitment to working with children in the public sector that ultimately led her to APS.

“This is where I wanted to be,” said Edward, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in general and special education from Mercer University. “I love seeing children’s growth and I love working with English Language Learners. To see these children blossom to where they begin talking and writing sentences is amazing.”

In her role as a pre-K paraprofessional, Edward assists lead teacher Jessica Bergstrom with a classroom of 22 children in providing small-group instruction, classroom management, as well as addressing behavioral issues.

“She’s an awesome teacher,” Edward said of her colleague. “Our goal is to do what’s best for the children.”

Garden Hills Principal Stacey Abbott contends that Edward is just as talented of a professional.

“Regina is amazing,” Abbott said. “When you’re in the classroom, you never know who is the teacher and who is the parapro. She and the teacher both equal. In addition to that, our parents love her. She’s really an angel. You can see the wings as she walks down the hall.”

Edward aspires to become the type of educator who inspires students based on her belief that all children can succeed.

“I want to be that teacher who goes the extra mile, and I hope to live up those expectations,” said Edward, who will graduate in 2019. “The day I lose passion for what I do is the day I no longer want to work with children.”