Girl Power!

The Women’s Sports Foundation reports that high school girls who play sports are more likely to get better grades in school; have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and a more positive body image.  APS is proud to be a part of all of the positives associated with girls’ sports.  We are equally proud of the success of our female athletes and the robust offerings of girls’ sports in the district.

I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize four of our dynamic APS girls basketball programs.

South Atlanta – Currently 18-0 and ranked #5 Class AAA. The Lady Hornets upset the #3 team in the state this weekend (Decatur), by a score of 53-51, and beat the previously ranked #1 team in the state (Laney), 68-52 on Monday. They were also crowned champions of the Dwight Madison Roundball Classic in Montgomery, Ala. over the winter holidays. Congratulations to Coach Akisha Graham and the Lady Hornets!

Mays-Currently 16-2 and ranked #9 in class AAAAA. Under the leadership of Chantay Frost, the Lady Raiders represented the district over the break in the National Title IX Conference in Washington, DC, going 2-1 during their stay. Earlier this week they took on #3 Stephenson High for Region 6AAAAA supremacy resulting in 64-46 victory for the Lady Raiders.

Maynard Jackson- Currently 13-4. Coming off a state playoff appearance in 2014, the Lady Jaguars, under the direction of Michelle Powell look to make a serious run in Region 4AAA and establish themselves as one of the elite teams in the state.

Therrell- Currently 13-7. Under first year coach Earl Caruthers, the young Lady Panthers have shown flashes of brilliance this season. Winners of the Chuck Miller Holiday Classic over the winter holiday break, the Lady Panthers also will be a threat to challenge for Region 4AAA supremacy.

Please join me in saluting our coaches and sensational scholar athletes for their dynamic work and representation of APS Athletics.

APS Locksmith Gains National Recognition

I would like to take time to recognize Ms. Kelly Kyzer who was featured in this month’s edition of the Locksmith Ledger, an industry trade magazine which focuses on safety and security.  She’s one of the women changing the face of the locksmith business!


For the past nine years Kelly has been in charge of key control at Atlanta Public Schools. When Kelly first came to APS there was a problem throughout the district with the return and replacement of keys when employees would leave the district, transfer to another building or even relocate to a different part of a school.

With the newly established key box system, APS employees have to use their ID badge and pin to gain access to the box.  Not only does this control access to certain keys, but it also tracks the user of the keys, which is important when you’re creating a culture of accountability.   xxIMG_0038.5485b85934dd9

Kelly says that she enjoys her job because there is a challenge every day.  She also loves making people feel more secure and most of all, she cherishes interacting with students. Kelly gets a kick out of the look of amazement when she arrives at a school building with her tools.  She hopes to inspire young girls to explore career paths and jobs not traditionally held by women.


In APS, we have two female locksmiths. Vanitta Ross started her career at APS in general maintenance, and now works as a locksmith alongside Kelly. Kelly says that Vanitta was easy to train and is a great co-worker. With her background in general maintenance, she just kind of had a knack for it.

Thank you both for keeping our students and schools safe.

Make sure you check them out in this month’s edition of the Locksmith Ledger, it’s really an awesome story. Thank you ladies for all you do to keep our schools and buildings safe.

Congrats to the APS “20 under 20″ honorees

Screen-Shot-2014-12-23-at-11.11.05-AMWe have an amazing group of children attending APS. Not only do we have high achievers in the classroom but many do outstanding work outside of class as well. So I was thrilled to see students recognized in the January issue of  Atlanta Intown dedicated to 20 students under the age of 20 who are giving back to their community.

Please join me in congratulating these incredible students!

Vanessa Rodriguez-Badillo, age 17

Carver School of the Arts

Among her impressive academic achievements, Vanessa also volunteers at Family Health Enterprise and plans to become a physician.

 Gibby Heiser, age 10

Morningside Elementary School

Gibby started “The Pencil Orphanage” to collect pencils for students in need. Now she’s getting help from students at seven elementary schools across Atlanta.

Quanterya Y. Hoard, age 17

West End Academy

Quanterya is president of the Future Business Leaders of America Organization.

She worked with the Morehouse School of Medicine Health Fair to implement her first community service project.

Allison Hunter, age 10

Gideons Elementary

In addition to helping to raise money for a senior center, Allison encouraged school administrators to increase technology preparedness for the upcoming Georgia Milestones Test.

Salome Araya, age 17

Grady High School

Salome advocates volunteerism in her involvement with 21st century leaders, a collaboration of business and professional leaders inspiring high school students to take on leadership positions, seek out opportunities, and give back to their communities.

Amadou Bah, age 18

B.E.S.T. Academy High School

Amadou is a Project Engage Research Scholar at Georgia Tech and has also volunteered at Grady Hospital. He’s also working to help minority students on the ACT standardized test.

Parker Whitlow, age 18

North Atlanta High School

Parker has dedicated over 700 hours to a middle school theater program she created. Furthermore, she’s helped ensure that the program will continue once she goes to college.

Imani Smith, age 9

J.W. Dobbs Elementary School

Imani has been dedicated to raising funds to fight breast cancer after the death of her mother.  She always carries an American Cancer Society money collection can.

Kaija M. Pack

Mays High School

Kaija asked friends to donate food instead of buying birthday gifts and started the “Feed the Need” project. She’s now hoping to expand the program to other cities

Runner Up

Jacauri Jones, age 13

Crawford Long Middle School

Jacauri helps to raise money for the Lymphoma and Cancer Societies

“SELMA” for APS Students – High school students can go for FREE while supplies last!!!


Everyone who knows me, knows that I am passionate about education.  If there is anything that rivals my love of public education…it is my love for my hometown of Selma, Alabama.

This year Selma celebrates the 50th anniversary of the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  This was a social justice campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of opposition.

Paramount Pictures recently released the movie “SELMA” which tells the story of this movement.  The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when civil rights leaders, many from right here in Atlanta, won one of the most significant victories of the movements’ history. King attended APS’ Booker T. Washington High School and entered Morehouse College during his junior year in high school.  I am thrilled that the Atlanta community answered the challenge set by business leaders in New York and throughout the nation, and will kick off the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday weekend by providing free movie tickets for “SELMA” to 10,000 APS high school (9th-12th grades) students beginning Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015.

Members of the Atlanta community raised more than $100,000 to purchase tickets for the film. Director Ava DuVernay’s “SELMA” tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history. The film also stars Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, with Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey as “Annie Lee Cooper.”

The movie has an excellent educational component for our teachers that includes lesson plans that meet Common Core Standards to incorporate into the district’s curriculum.

STUDENT “ASSIGNMENT”: Our students who present a current Atlanta Public Schools’ ID or report card at the box office of any participating theater will receive free admission while tickets last. The metro Atlanta theaters are:


The diversity of our group of funders accurately represents our city.  We’re proud of the fact that people from all backgrounds and income levels that have come forward to share Dr. King’s message with APS students.  We had a range of donations where people gave what they could, including one very special $16 gift.  I love this city’s generous nature and our generous corporations, Chick-fil-A and Newell Rubbermaid, as well as well as individuals of all means who came together to make this happen.

I appreciate the efforts of Dr. Michael Lomax, president & CEO, United Negro College Fund; Hala Moddelmog, president & CEO, Metro Atlanta Chamber; and Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., president, Morehouse College.

In addition, the following supporters are making it possible for 10,000 APS high school students to see “SELMA”:

Large Funders $10,000


Ford Foundation

Greenberg Traurig

Bill Lewis & Carol Sutton-Lewis
Chuck Phillips
Myrtle Potter & Alan Thompson
Newell Rubbermaid

The Family of Meria Carstarphen

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Other Funders ($9,999-$1,000)

Atlanta Board of Education


Coast to Coast Tours

Georgia-Pacific & Youth Entrepreneurs Georgia

Georgia Natural Gas

Hara Amdemariam

H.J. Russell and Company

Kathy and Kenny Waller

Metro Atlanta Chamber

The Integral Group

Thomas Kennedy Sampson & Tompkins

United Way of Metro Atlanta

Endorsing Organizations

100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc.

Atlanta Business League

Atlanta City Council

Atlanta Women’s Club

Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA


Dogwood City Chapter of The Links, Incorporated

First Congregational Church

National Black MBA Association – Atlanta Chapter

National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. – Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter

National Sales Network Atlanta

S.C.L.C Women

The Andrew Young Foundation

The C. T. Vivian Leadership Institute

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights

The Urban League of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta

Endorsing Individuals

Fulton County Chairman John Eaves

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard

Mr. Lonnie King

Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell

Dr. C. T. Vivian

Ambassador Andrew J. Young

“SELMA” is nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Picture and Best Original Song for “Glory” by Common & John Legend. The film earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Song for “Glory” and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.

The film’s educational outreach includes a curriculum guide with 11 interdisciplinary lesson plans in Social Studies, ELA, Geography, Math and Art. All lessons meet Common Core State Standards.  Educators and parents may download a curriculum guide by visiting:

We’ve put up a page on the district’s website – for more information about theaters and show times for this weekend visit or follow the Twitter hashtag #selmaforstudents.

Exciting new APS partnership


Artwork I had the pleasure to see during a recent visit to Sarah Smith Elementary School.

I am thrilled to announce that APS is now a Partner in Education with the John F. Kennedy Center.  This is a very prestigious partnership that will help us with advancing the arts and whole child development in APS! The district is being added to Georgia’s only Kennedy Center Partnership in Education Team that began in 2001 between the Woodruff Arts Center and Fulton County Schools.

The goal of the program is to foster partnerships among arts organizations, schools and communities. The primary focus of these school/community partnerships is teacher professional development. As a partner, we will be able to hire Kennedy Center teaching artists who create staff development utilizing the arts as a way to learn other subject areas and increase engagement.  It also sets the stage to be part of more Kennedy Center initiatives like Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child (to help address access and equity in arts programming), Changing Education through the Arts (to promote professional learning for educators and teaching artists) and Very Special Arts (to provide arts and education opportunities for students with disabilities and increase access to the arts for all).

What an amazing partnership and opportunity to further whole child development in APS! Thank you to Jessica L. Booth, our Coordinator of Fine Arts, our Fine Arts team and principals for working so hard on the application and outreach. We’d also like to thank The Woodruff Arts Center for the invitation and Dr. Robert Avossa, Superintendent of Fulton County Schools for his support.

Learn more about the partnership here:

Georgia Power Invests in a Strong APS

Our generous partners at Georgia Power stopped by this week to present the district with our first partnership donation of the new year, a gift of $50,000 that will help support APS’ five-year strategic plan!

Our district spent the fall articulating a clear mission and vision, guiding principles and aligned operating norms.  Now we are focused on engaging the community as we work on major planning initiatives, including our strategic plan.  The plan focuses on four strategic objectives:  academic programs, talent strategy, systems and resources, and culture.  You can take a look at the plan HERE.

This plan is our strategy map…a change strategy that identifies four big buckets of work and steps to shift the district and leverage its strength.  Georgia Power has been a great sustaining education partner, even providing us a loaned executive for the past couple of years to work on systems upgrades. Thank you Georgia Power, especially B. Mitchell King, region manager for the Metro East Region at Georgia Power who visited with our staff, for investing in building stronger students, a stronger staff, stronger schools and a strong system.

georgia power

Student Athletes End Football Season on a High Note!


This photo is from earlier this season when I visited Carver High School during a Hi-5 pep rally!

Our football student athletes ended the season on a high note!  Please join me in congratulating the coaches and student-athletes chosen from the AJC as All City/All State Recipients for the 2014 Football Season. 

ALL City/South Fulton
·         Coach of the Year- Corey Jarvis- Mays
·         Defensive Player of the Year- Natrez Patrick/ DE- Mays
·         Dallas Warmack/ OL- Mays
·         Jeremiah Abby/ OL- Carver
·         Tyshawn Brown/ WR- Mays
·         Orenzo Smith/ WR- Maynard Jackson
·         Deshawn Waller/ Ath- BEST
·         Aaron Williams/ DB- Carver
·         Khalil Brooks/ DB- Mays
All State
·         Defensive Player of the Year- Natrez Patrick/ DE- Mays
·         AAAAA/ OL- Dallas Warmack-Mays, DB-Aaron Williams- Carver
·         AAA/ Honorable Mention- WR/DB-Orenzo Smith- Maynard Jackson
·         AA/ RB-Deshawn Waller- BEST, Punter-Brandon Wright- KIPP Atlanta Collegiate

Congrats to all of our hard working coaching staffs as well as APS Athletic Director Jasper E. Jewell.  What a great season!