This slideshow provides just a glimpse at some of the amazing things that happened at Atlanta Public Schools in November. Click through to see the highlights from your school. A new slideshow will be posted at the end of each month, so be sure to subscribe to APS Today and look for your scholar or your school!
The Atlanta Public Schools second annual Picture Book Bowl brought together students from kindergarten through third grade who were excited to showcase their reading skills.
Twenty-two APS schools participated in the virtual team competition over Zoom. Back in March, the Georgia Book Award Committee outlined 20 award-winning picture books for participants to read before the competition.
“This is a competition that celebrates the joy of reading and the love of reading that’s being developed in our youngest readers,” APS director of library media services Jennifer Saunders said. “The students are able to shine. They are able to show that they are readers, that they enjoy reading and are reading for the love of reading.”
Each participating school had a team of 10 students that went head-to-head against another school using an app called Buzz In Live.
The students were excited to answer the questions about the books they read and earn points for their team. They cheered when they got a question right and encouraged their classmates if they got a question wrong.
“The volunteers really liked the excitement from the students,” Saunders said. “They were also impressed by how the students encouraged each other. They said, ‘Way to go! You can do this! Keep going!’ So students were also learning sportsmanship, how to lose, how to win, and how to celebrate each other and encourage each other.”
“The volunteers were very impressed with the confidence that was displayed in the students,” she added. “This was a confidence-building activity as well as risk-taking. We think of the IB characteristics, and being a risk-taker is one of those. This gives students the opportunity to do something they may not otherwise have done before.”
By the end of the competition, it was Usher-Collier Elementary School that finished with a game-high 430 points to win the APS Picture Bowl. M. Agnes Jones Elementary School was a close second place with 420 points, and both Kimberly Elementary and Harper Archer Elementary School tied for third place with 330 points.
“This appeals to students who thrive in competition, and it motivates them and encourages them to want to do more and do better and to hone their reading skills,” Saunders said. “Oftentimes, our readers can be the more quiet students, and they don’t always get recognized. But this is an opportunity for them to really stand out and be among peers that have similar interests.”
This slideshow provides just a glimpse at some of the amazing things that happened at Atlanta Public Schools in October. Click through to see the highlights from your school. A new slideshow will be posted at the end of each month, so be sure to subscribe to APS Today and look for your scholar or your school!
This slideshow provides just a glimpse at some of the amazing things that happened at Atlanta Public Schools in September. Click through to see the highlights from your school. A new slideshow will be posted at the end of each month, so be sure to subscribe to APS Today and look for your scholar or your school!
The students at Deerwood Academy were excited to explore the school’s new outdoor learning space as soon as the opening ribbon was cut.
The new Out Teach outdoor learning space includes a weather station, an outdoor whiteboard, seating for a full class and two raised vegetable beds.
The vegetable beds have already shown signs of life with sprouts of collard greens, thyme and celery already breaking through the topsoil and growing. The outdoor learning space opens up a new opportunity for students and teachers to innovate and expand their learning experiences.
“We want to express our gratitude to Atlanta Public Schools (APS) for being able to bring this opportunity to our school as we partnered with Out Teach, Royal Foods and Atlanta United to build an outdoor classroom for our students,” Deerwood Academy principal Joy Antone said. “We are excited because it definitely brings about a lot of different opportunities. Whether it’s just being able to connect and understand, or coming up with the possibilities of solving real-world problems and issues and looking at how we can use this space and the vegetables that we’re growing to help our community.”
Out Teach is a national educational non-profit organization that builds outdoor learning labs and trains teachers to use them to improve math, science and language arts instruction. They partnered with Royal Foods and Atlanta United to help bring the outdoor learning space to Deerwood Academy.
“We are really built to inspire and prepare tomorrow’s leaders, innovators, and scientists. We really believe that the next generation is in our elementary schools and in Atlanta Public Schools,” Out Teach vice president of partnerships and growth Suzannah Koilpillai said. “We know that this space, moving forward, will provide an opportunity for teachers to get their kids inspired and engaged. We know that when they come out here now, there will be an experiment waiting to happen around every corner.”
Deerwood Academy is the fifth APS school to receive an Out Teach learning space within the last year. Dobbs Elementary and Finch Elementary Schools both have learning spaces, while Usher-Collier and Dunbar Elementary School have Out Teach learning labs. Miles Elementary School will be the next APS school to open an outdoor learning lab.
“It’s important for us to ensure that kids have innovative experiences not only inside, but also outside the classroom. This really helps them to focus on experiential learning, as well as learning about their community and how to give back to their community,” APS’ director of innovation and redesign Dione Simon said. “They’ll have an opportunity to not only learn science, math and literacy out here, but also learn how to grow things that can help them and community members.”
After the unveiling of the outdoor learning space, Out Teach led the students through a few educational activities to introduce them to their new outdoor classroom and learn some new facts about the vegetables they will be caring for.
“We created a garden club, and so our staff and students will be caring for those veggie beds as well as coming out to the outdoor classroom and experiencing nature and just being able to relate the world around them to what they are learning in class,” Antone said.
Even before the holiday season started, students at Deerwood Academy already had the spirit of giving.
Last month they took to the streets – or at least the driveways and walkways around the school campus – to raise awareness to the plight of the less fortunate among them in the community. For the third consecutive year, Deerwood Academy students staged their iCare Walk, an initiative designed to bring attention to a community issue of concern, and then raise money to combat the issue.
In the two previous years, the themes were breast cancer awareness and bullying. This year, students targeted poverty as the theme after being inspired by the story of Terrence and Cecilia Lester, whose “Love Beyond Walls” organization works to mobilize communities to move past the walls that divide people through creative community service projects.
Earlier this fall, Terence Lester spent two months walking 650 miles from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness for poverty, which inspired the students at Deerwood Academy to hold their “March Against Poverty.” Nearly all of the 744 students participated, collecting pledges from donors based on the number of steps they took. Students will host several more fundraising events throughout the remainder of the school year. All proceeds will be combined and given to “Love Beyond Walls.”
Fifth graders Ella Loyo and Layla McReynolds were two of the event’s main organizers.
“I was with my dad one day and we saw two women and both of them had two little kids and they were just walking around in the road,” Layla said. “People like that need help and we thought this was a good way to do that.”
Ella agreed. “There are too many people with children who are struggling,” she said. “They are not able to take care of themselves and so we want to be able to help them.”
When Laura Henderson brought her class at Deerwood Academy Elementary School down to the gym for a “special assembly” on the last day of the first semester, she had no idea it was all for her.
The third grade teacher was about to be announced as a winner in the Symetra “Heroes in the Classroom” program. Symetra partnered with SunTrust and the Atlanta Falcons to recognize this year’s teachers.
Henderson is one of 16 K–12 teachers in Georgia honored for educational excellence program during the 2015 NFL season. Teachers are recognized in front of their students and peers at surprise in-school presentations, and they receive a $1,000 donation for classroom books and supplies. In addition, they receive tickets to a Falcons home game and are acknowledged during an on-field presentation. Henderson will be recognized at the January 3 game when the Falcons face the New Orleans Saints.
Teachers may be nominated by their principal, district staff, student or student’s parent. The winners are selected based on their ability to make a real difference in students’ lives; to go above and beyond in their day-to-day responsibilities; and to help students build life skills. Henderson was nominated by Deerwood Academy parent Belita Hamilton.
“Laura Henderson creates a trusting and safe classroom environment, where all her students can learn. She encourages the use of technology, creating real-world projects for her students like a series of STEM activities designed to help build their confidence in working as a team,” Hamilton said. “Ms. Henderson communicates with parents both when they might need some additional support and when they are excelling. She has such a kind and gentle spirit. Her generosity is evident in the supplies, snacks and extra time she spends with her students.”
Deerwood Academy Principal Camisha Perry said Henderson is a great example of the caliber of teachers working at the southwest Atlanta school.
“It speaks to the true passion for teaching and the love for students that all of our teachers have, especially Ms. Henderson,” Perry said. “It’s one thing to send an email or a note, but for a parent to take the time to go through the nominating process in order to make sure her child’s teacher gets recognized, it’s really overwhelming.”
Henderson said the award indeed caught her by surprise.
“I’ve grown really close with this group of kids,” said Henderson, who taught the same group of students last year in second grade. “They are great. For a parent to reach out like that, it makes you feel really special, really appreciated. I feel so honored.”
During APS’ College and Career Motivation week, Deerwood Academy invited professionals from throughout the metro Atlanta area into the school to speak to students about the importance of education, discipline, and how actions and decisions can impact their future careers.
The purpose of the College and Career Motivation Week is to encourage and inspire students to focus on success in school as they plan for college. CCMW is also designed to make students more aware of career options and help them better prepare to compete in a global society.
Mr. Martin Jongue, an author and motivational speaker, served as the keynote speaker for the young men of Deerwood. The keynote speaker for the girls’ program was award-winning artist Mrs. Regina Bell-Battle. Deerwood Academy would like to thank all of the professionals who took time out of their busy schedules to speak with students about future career opportunities.
Commemorating Georgia Pre-K Week, State Superintendent Dr. John Barge read to a group of bright-eyed 4-year-olds at Deerwood Academy. The purpose of the week, from September 30 to October 4, was to direct the public’s attention to the important work of preparing Georgia’s youngest children for school success.
Deerwood Academy Principal Noletha High, Associate Superintendent Steve Smith, Regional K-12 Executive Director Dr. Danielle Battle, and professionals from the school and the district’s Office of Early Learning participated in the special week and VIP school visit. Georgia Pre-K Week was hosted by the nonprofit Voices for Georgia’s Children and its partners.
Dr. Barge was among the nearly 150 officials who visited some of the approximately 3,800 Pre-K classrooms in Georgia.
APS has 34 school sites, including Deerwood Academy, with 41 classes that serve more than 850 students in the traditional Pre-K program. In all, APS serves approximately 1,050 early education students, including 3- and 4-year-olds who have special needs and attend an APS Pre-K classroom.
Students, teachers and parents enjoyed a Saturday night filled with touchdowns, cheers, music, and more at the Therrell High School Cluster Football Night. Guests enjoyed a great game of football as Therrell High School competed against North Druid Hills High.
The schools of the Therrell Cluster include Therrell High School, Bunche Middle School, Continental Colony Elementary School, Deerwood Academy, Fickett Elementary School and Kimberly Elementary School.
The highlight of the evening for the Kimberly Stingers was the opportunity to represent Kimberly on the 50 yard line during the pre-game introductions. The students of Kimberly ran onto the field as they were cheered on by football fans.
“I love football,” said Seth, a fourth grader at Kimberly Elementary. “This is so much fun!”
“I’m excited to see so many other students from Kimberly at the football game,” commented another Kimberly Stinger.
Jeff Beggs, Director of Athletics for Atlanta Public Schools, says, “This is the first year we have had cluster nights during our football games. We hope to have this every year and each year we hope more and more students will attend. This is a chance to build strong clusters throughout our school system.”
According to Mr. Jolly, Kimberly’s Media Specialist, this was a wonderful opportunity for students, parents and teachers throughout the cluster to spend time with one another and celebrate school pride.
Students had an exciting time as they witnessed the touchdowns and tackles, and enjoyed music from the Therrell Marching Band!