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.
By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Atlanta Public Schools recently received the 2016 United Fresh Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award. Held June 20-22 in Chicago, the awards ceremony was held during the United Fresh 2016 convention and trade show. The winning categories included business in industry; casual and family dining restaurants; colleges and universities; fine dining; hotels and healthcare; K-12 food service; and quick-service restaurants.
APS Nutrition Director Dr. Marilyn Hughes accepted the award on the district’s behalf, and was joined by seven of the country’s most exciting chefs and food service professionals representing various culinary styles and backgrounds.
Now in its ninth year, the United Fresh awards program pays special tribute to chefs and food service operations for excellence in the use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. The APS Nutrition Department was recognized for concept development and menu design using fresh produce and incorporating culinary trends; knowledge of food safety and handling skills; and the Farm to School Program, which promotes produce-related events to educate students on fun ways to live and lead healthy lifestyles.
Dr. Hughes was honored to receive the award on behalf of students served in APS schools every day.
“The students are the real winners, because they are learning, both in the cafeteria and classroom, the importance of fruits and vegetables to their health,” she said. “Also, the award represents the importance the district has placed with offering fresh produce through the APS Salad Bowl. This initiative provides fresh fruits and vegetables each day in all school cafeterias as part of the lesson plans for classrooms in 36 elementary schools.”
Winners were selected from more than 120 nominations submitted by produce companies and food service operations across North America. A panel of produce and food service industry leaders reviewed each nominee’s incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of food safety protocols for proper storage and handling of produce, leadership in produce related community service, and special events and recognition by their company and industry peers.
This year’s winners were featured in a panel discussion on the United Fresh 2016 trade show floor in the Fresh Marketplace Learning Center.
Currently, Atlanta Public Schools is voluntarily testing for the presence of lead in 113 district buildings. This proactive process is ongoing and district officials are receiving results from tests and retests daily.
Of the 750 water sources sampled thus far, 23 showed elevated levels of lead. Each of these sources was immediately isolated from public use and corrective actions are being implemented to address the elevated levels. In some cases, a simple flushing of a fountain or sink was all that was required to produce a clear report.
APS continues to be committed to the safety and well-being of its students and employees. The district will continue to take corrective action on any water sources found to have elevated levels of lead, with the goal of having all water sources cleared when school employees return to their buildings for the start of the 2016-2017 school year on July 27, 2016.
By: Alicia Sands Lurry
On Wednesday, June 29, the XQ Super School Bus rolled by Price Middle School to celebrate D.M. Therrell High School being named a semi-finalist for the Atlanta Arts and Innovation Academy (AAIA) $10 million grant application.
During the event, dozens of students, parents, teachers and community members were invited to board the 47-foot modified school bus complete with a recording studio and interactive virtual walls. While touring the bus, visitors explored and learned to “rethink high school” as they shared their experiences and creative ideas for what it takes to discover, design, develop and re-imagine better high schools in America.
“This means so much to the Therrell community,” Therrell Principal Shelly Powell said of the XQ event and her school’s semi-finalist standing. “Our students are super excited to rethink their high school and bring about different experiences for themselves and their classmates. They’re looking forward to redesigning the high school experience for students.”
If awarded, AAIA will be Georgia’s first ever STEM-Arts integration and innovation school serving students interested in technological and scientific elements of film and theatrical arts. The grant application was developed by a team that included Therrell High School students and staff, parents, community members, business partners, and APS district office staff.
In its inaugural year, AAIA will serve approximately 100 students in grades 9-12, reaching eventual capacity of 400. The school will serve students currently zoned for Therrell High School.
In addition to the school bus, the XQ event featured an art station; writing wall to share thoughts and ideas; food and entertainment; and a virtual reality station that allowed students, teachers and parents to explore the evolution of classrooms and technology.
“This is awesome,” said parent Tess Glover, whose three children attend Sarah Smith Elementary and Sutton Middle School. “One size doesn’t fit all, and this project certainly shows that. This is something all students can benefit from.”
Zameh Omonuwa, a rising senior at Therrell High School, is just as excited about the XQ project.
“This project gives Therrell a better impression among the community and students,” she said. “Knowing that XQ is trying to help students and the community is a good thing.”
Summertime in Atlanta brings two things for certain: hot weather and Xanadu in Atlanta Public Schools.
The annual summer enrichment program, sponsored by the district’s Office of Gifted and Talented Education, has been a staple in the district for more than 20 years. The four-week initiative, for rising first graders through 12th graders, provides students an opportunity to learn new, challenging concepts while interacting with teachers and students from APS schools other than their own.
More than 300 elementary school students and 75 middle and high school students participated in this year’s program, which was held at Price Middle School under the theme “The Summer of Wonder.” As has been the case every year, the ending of the program is celebrated with a musical performed by students. The elementary students performed “Xanadu Wonderland” – inspired by “The Wiz” – on Tuesday. The middle and high school students concluded with “Xanadu” Wednesday
“We hope the students found fun and exciting ways to learn new information. [Price] Principal Duane Hale and his assistant principal Schredrick Austin were great hosts,” said Tanya Barrett, a STEM Program Specialist and the site administrator for Xanadu this year. Students took mini-courses in non-core subject areas like health and physical fitness, drama, visual arts and cooking, as well as math, science and history.
“Our teachers incorporated gifted standards and Georgia GPS standards in all of the classes,” Barnett said. “The students learned new concepts, and loved seeing their friends from other schools. For some of them, this is the only time they see each other all year.”
Acid Based Chemistry was a class in which students studied pH levels in liquid and made their own water-based paints, which they used to create artwork.
In Disection 102, students worked like medical examiners, disecting pigs to discover how they died. The students even filed medical examiner reports, just like the professionals.
In Eco-Friendly Homes, students studied the strategies and techniques now being used to construct the most environmentally friendly houses and buildings, and then created their own miniature models.
In Energy Everywhere, students studied various forms of energy, and then built simple machines and power sources to demonstrate how energy is used.
Maynard H. Jackson Principal Stephanie Johnson Named Finalist for 2017 National Principal of the Year
ATLANTA – The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) announced Monday that Stephanie Johnson, principal of Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School in Atlanta Public Schools, is a finalist for the 2017 National Principal of the Year.
The honor recognizes principals who excel in educational leadership; while resolving complex problems, developing self and others and providing community service. Johnson is one of three finalists named from across the country who will be recognized during the 2016 NASSP Principals Institute, September 11-14 in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced during National Principals Month in October.
Johnson has been a high school principal for 10 years, including four at Maynard H. Jackson. In February, Johnson was named Georgia Principal of the Year by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP).
“I am so appreciative and honored to be named among the top three finalists for the 2017 National Principal of the Year,” said Johnson. “Not only am I thankful for NASSP and GASSP for recognizing our work, I am also thankful for our faculty, staff, parents, business and community partners, as well as our students, for buying into our vision to transform Maynard Jackson High School and the entire Jackson Cluster into a cluster of choice schools in Georgia.”
For more information about this prestigious award: Three Top School Leaders Selected as 2017 National Principal of the Year Finalists