Whenever you get a chance as a superintendent to open a freshly renovated school building and welcome students back to state-of-the-art technologies, new desks, sparkling floors and tasty, nutritious school lunches … that pretty much makes your week.
And at Bunche Middle School today, home of the Chargers, I thoroughly enjoyed touring the new building – after more than $20 million in renovations – with Principal Mario Watkins and then having lunch with several of his wonderful middle school students. Principal Watkins is passionate about Bunche Middle School. I have never seen a principal go through so much to build a building for his students. He loves these kids and so do I!
I toured the facility and I will admit, it was jaw dropping – as nice as any modern office building or hotel – and the grounds boasted a new football field, track and softball field. The school was filled with touch-screen Promethean boards in classrooms and two gorgeous courtyards that will be used as outdoor classrooms. It was NICE!
The lunch was the best I’ve had so far. Hummus and pita bread, a gorgeous green salad, fantastic baked chicken and much improved seasoned broccoli. Oh and that baked sweet potato! Man, that was good! My lunch crew included a young student by the name of Javare who expressed an interest in becoming a wildlife photographer.
Javare may be able learn how to use camera equipment sooner than he thought.
Today we had another surprise in store for the teachers and students of Bunche… thanks to Staples, the Entertainment Industry Foundation and DonorsChoose.org. And it was nearly impossible for me to keep the secret as we rallied the Bunche students, faculty and staff to their beautiful new auditorium.
The Secret: A $231,000 donation to cover all Atlanta Public Schools projects on DonorsChoose.org. Teachers throughout our district, not just Bunche, found out today that their projects were funded, (in fact I met a few others who had received the news later in the day at Inman Middle School).
You see, DonorsChoose.org is a crowd-funding site that allows users to send donations to teachers, classrooms and schools, who have posted their needs online. APS teachers have used the site to fund classroom projects or obtain much needed supplies, including computers and tablets. In fact, Mr. Watkins tells me that Bunche teachers have secured as much as $20,000 from the generosity of DonorsChoose.org visitors.
What has not been a secret … and hasn’t been for decades … are the challenges our teachers and students face every single year in getting classroom supplies and tools they need for a regular school day and especially for special projects they have in mind for the rest of the school year.
I remember too well from my time as a middle school teacher in Selma, Alabama, the frustrations that my fellow teachers and I felt at the beginning of every school year, knowing that we sometimes didn’t have enough pencils, rulers and paper for the school year much less have the materials and equipment we would like to have for the bigger projects.
So I must give out a huge THANK YOU to Staples, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, WSB-TV, actress Danielle Campbell of The Originals and DonorsChoose.org for the amazing generosity to our teachers and our schools and, most of all, to the children of Atlanta. I hope that it sparks even more donations on DonorsChoose.org from the community and Atlanta businesses.
I’ll close out with the cheer I led at today’s announcement –
When I say Bunche, you say Chargers!
Have a great year you guys!
BUNCHE MIDDLE SCHOOL FUNDED PROJECTS
- Cheerleading – Tumbling Octagon: Ms. Young
- Music – Sony HD Camcorders: Mr. Scott
- Orchestra – Strings, Shoulder Rests, Books: Ms. McCoffey
- Math – Color Laser Jet Ink Printer: Ms. Glass
- Computer – Electronic Notebooks: Mrs. Ojore
- Computer – 10 Tablets: Ms. Jones
- Dance – Dehumidifier: Ms. Barnes
- Dance – Camcorder: Ms. Young
- Chorus – Portable Sound Equipment: Ms. Kelly
- Writing – Apple MacBook Air Laptops: Ms. Scott
- Orchestra – Cellos: Ms. McCafferty
- French – Tablets with Headphones: Ms. N.