Members of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) leadership team recently surprised several employees with news that they will be honored for their contributions to helping APS achieve its mission and vision. The honors include Principal of the Year, Assistant Principal of the Year, Schools First Award, Students First Award, Districtwide Partner of the Year Award and School-Based Partnership Award.
The winners will be honored during the inaugural APS Employee Recognition Celebration ceremony at 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 at the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center, 100 CNN Center, NW, Atlanta, GA 30303.
Each year, APS employees are nominated by their peers for awards in each category. Nominated employees are judged based on their accomplishments, work history, community service and professional honors. This year, the district expanded the recognition ceremony to include employees who are inspiring and guiding students. The new categories recognize support staff and administrators who play a critical role in educating students. The 2015-2016 Employee Recognition Award winners are:
Principal of the Year – Trennis Harvey, Heritage Academy
Atlanta native Trennis Harvey has served as principal of Heritage Academy for seven years. As an educator for the last 20 years, Harvey has dedicated his career to instilling a love of learning in children from all walks of life, in particular, in students
who come from environments where survival is the top priority with education being a close second. He is an energetic educator who makes learning fun for children and adult learners as well. Over the last three years, Heritage Academy has made enough progress to be removed from the Georgia Focus Schools List during the 2014-2015 school year. This progress includes closing the achievement gap of students with disabilities, increasing math proficiency levels from 54 to 84 percent and writing proficiency from 69 to 90 percent. Harvey attributes this accomplishment to a staff who embraces challenge and change and believes in the Heritage Academy mission of creating students who are excellent readers, dynamic mathematicians, and critical thinkers committed to making their community a better place to live. Harvey is a graduate of APS’ Benjamin E. Mays High School, Morehouse College and Brenau University. He was classroom teacher for nine years before serving in leadership roles in education.
Assistant Principal of the Year – Lakeesha Ramdhanie, KIPP STRIVE Primary School
Lakeesha Ramdhanie’s deep passion for Atlanta’s students and community inspired her to help establish the Atlanta’s first KIPP elementary school, KIPP STRIVE Primary (KSP). For the past four years, Ms. Ramdhanie has served as STRIVE’s Assistant Principal, contributing her expertise in early childhood education and literacy instruction. Ms. Ramdhanie’s deep passion for literacy led her to be nominated by her peers to serve as the Regional Literacy Coordinator. With her leadership, she has guided the scholars at KSP to earn designation as top performers in both math and reading for three consecutive years. Prior to coming to Atlanta, Ramdhanie was a founding kindergarten teacher at SPARK Academy in New Jersey. Ramdhanie earned degree in Psychology in 2009 from Spelman College and last summer, she completed the master’s degree program at Columbia University’s Principals Academy.
Schools First Award – Sheral Kemp-Mizell, Supervisor, Department of Transportation
Veteran transportation supervisor Sheral Kemp-Mizell enjoys working with special needs children and elderly citizens. She started her career in transportation working extensively with students who have special needs from 1973 to 1979, when she was a bus driver and classroom assistant at the Cerebral Palsy Center. During that time, she volunteered with the local and national Special Olympics competition. For a decade, Kemp-Mizell continued to operate in her passion with Lanell’s Transportation Company as a special needs bus driver, route coordinator, and dispatcher. Kemp-Mizell’s career
continued with Atlanta Public Schools in 1988 as a special needs bus driver, dispatcher and now, cluster transportation supervisor. She is a certified school bus driver trainer where she is cultivating the careers of other drivers. Kemp-Mizell is an avid volunteer. She participates in and coordinates groups to adopt children, families, and the elderly for Thanksgiving and Christmas through the provision of toys, school supplies, clothes and meals. Her motto is “Every day is a blessing.”
Students First Award – Tiarra Moore, Instructional Coach and STEM Coordinator, Crawford W. Long Middle School
Tiarra Moore became a science teacher at Crawford Long Middle School through the Teach for America program in 2002. As a Long Middle School educator, Moore has created numerous programs and initiatives including a recycling program, wellness initiatives for students and teachers, the school’s first organic garden and fruit orchard, and inquiry-based science teaching and learning, which has increased standardized test scores in science. In addition to implementing academic initiatives, Moore has established numerous business partnerships for Long Middle including NeuroNexus, Inc., Northside Hospital, the Captain Planet Foundation, Emory University, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the Whole Kids Foundation, the YWCA’s Teen Girls in Technology Program, Georgia Power, Kroger, and the Jonesboro Road Home Depot. She has also garnered $35,000 in grant money for Long Middle within the last four years. Her latest accomplishment is establishing Long Middle School as a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) campus to deliver engineering and computer science courses to a cohort of sixth grade students.
APS Districtwide Partnership Award – Achieve Atlanta
This school year, Achieve Atlanta launched a $20 million initiative to increase dramatically the number of APS graduates who enter college and successfully graduate from colleges and technical schools. Achieve Atlanta advisers are at APS high schools to connect students to post-secondary institution advisers and financial packages to help close the college funding gap. Achieve Atlanta was created in partnership by The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation and APS.
APS School Partnership Award – IBM Corporation
The IBM Corporation has provided a wealth of support to students at L.J. Price Middle School for nearly a decade. Most notably, since 2007, IBM has bolstered the STEM educational experiences for students through its I.G.N.I.T.E (Igniting Interest in Technology and Engineering) and E.X.I.T.E (Exploring Interest in Technology and Engineering) Technology academies. During the two technology academies, members of the IBM family work with Price students on various activities that hone their skills in science technology engineering and math. The success of this partnership can be measured by the increase in students’ test scores, number of students completing fair projects, and the increase in the school’s College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) score.
This year’s event is an expansion of the annual APS Districtwide Teacher of the Year ceremony. APS teachers Dennis Toliver of Grove Park Intermediate School, Travis Brown of Sylvan Hills Middle School and J. Scott Allen of Henry W. Grady High School were named finalists for the 2015-2016 Districtwide APS Teacher of the Year award the week of October 16. The winner will be announced during the ERC ceremony October 29 and will move on to compete for Georgia Teacher of the Year.
Congratulations to all of the winners!