Are You Day One Ready? APS Is.

Long before the last student exited from school for the 2015-2016 school year, Atlanta Public Schools began preparing for that first student walking into one of our schools for the next school year. Are you Day One ready? APS is.

Here’s how we got ready:

Our Operations Department went into high gear to ensure capital projects were completed on time, HVAC work was finished and schools were clean so that every APS learning environment would be safe and secure on Day One.

Our Human Resources team accelerated the process to fill every principal, assistant principal and teaching position so all of our schools would be fully staffed come Wednesday, Aug. 3.

Our Professional Development folks provided numerous opportunities for our educators and staff so they could come into school armed not only with the latest ideas and techniques in education but also with a renewed enthusiasm and vigor as they do their part of the APS mission to graduate every student prepared for college and career

It’s been an intense, summer-long process … and APS is ready to go. #APSFirstDay

41 Days until Day One

It’s June 23, and 68 police officers in dress blues stand ramrod straight in the auditorium of the Center for Learning and Leadership. They take the state Oath of Office every police officer in Georgia must swear to and the inaugural APS police force is officially on the job.

These officers come into our schools not only equipped with the standard equipment of a police officer, they are armed with social emotional learning skills, the reliance on positive behavior supports and a mind toward restorative justice. As part of a burgeoning national triad model, they are not only police officers, they will serve by teaching, counseling and policing our beautiful students in a way that will create a different type of learning environment that is not only safe and secure but nurturing and supportive.

During this beautiful ceremony that included Dr. Marquenta Sands Hall, our executive director for Safety and Security, and our new Police Chief Ron Applin, it was clear that we had taken the right step – and a bold step – toward transforming APS. #APSChiefofPoliceApplinRocks

15 Days until Day One

For the third year in a row, we had all of our principals in place in advance of the first day of school. I met with the principals on July 19 for a summer orientation, where I get a chance to tell them how much I appreciate them for taking on these critical jobs.

They are hand-picked to do the job. They are part of the APS team that will lead the transformation. They have been empowered with the flexibility, the autonomy and the support to do the school-based work.

I am confident in their leadership to help lead and drive this transformation. #Leadership

13 Days until Day One

Next to spending quality time with students, my favorite part of my job is when I get to interact with dynamic employees who truly put our students and schools first. The New Employee Orientation has become an APS expectation, along with the massive group selfie that I insist on taking at every single event.Cn7-TYwW8AQPFtq

Our new employee orientation – held multiple times during the school year – gives me the opportunity to tell them directly the importance of a child-centered agenda in APS. I want them to hear it from the person leading the district this one main point: Children must come first! #JoinTeamAPS

 Seven Days until Day One

Everyone in APS gets professional development. Such programs not only benefit the school district by ensuring we have the most qualified and trained employees with up-to-date skills and knowledge, but they also  contribute to their personal development and well-being. I am pleased that we provide such services to our wonderful bus drivers, who are often the first and last adults in Atlanta Public Schools to interact with our beautiful children each school day.

We put 426 buses on the road every day, transporting some 26,000 students. So I want their experience to be safe and secure. We have not only been ensuring our drivers are safe and smart, but caring as well, providing them with the same kind of social and emotional learning (SEL) development provided to our teachers and other adults in the district.

I was privileged to join our bus drivers on July 27 for some of their training, and I look forward to visiting with them tomorrow morning at the Metropolitan Bus Depot as they embark on their first bus runs of the new school year. #YellowTogether

Six Days until Day One

As superintendent and a high school sports fan, it has been a great thrill for me over the past year to meet with the student athletes, their coaches, managers and trainers and actually get to train and play with them. Over the past year, I have worked with the football players, played with high school bands, and practiced routines with cheerleaders.

Here’s a breakdown of my workouts so far this year:

  • Cheerleading and football at Carver
  • Softball at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy
  • Weight training at Douglass
  • Football at North Atlanta (where I took my selfie on July 27 of me holding the football for kicker and soccer superstar Alejandro Marin)

I have more football at Jackson after Day One, water polo with North Atlanta and Grady on Thursday and more football at B.E.S.T. Academy on Friday. So stay tuned, sports fans! #APSUnitedWePlay

Four Days until Day One

As anyone following APS in recent weeks knows, we have been all about School Readiness and having our students ready for the first day of school. To that end, we started the BASH! to ensure everyone has the supplies and information they need to be set for Day One.

Our second annual, district-wide APS Back-to-School Bash held on July 30 at the Georgia World Congress Center was an unaBASHed (sorry!) success with thousands of attendees. This free event for APS students and families featured education and afterschool resources, activities for children, door prizes and more! Our staff and volunteers (more than 200 of them!) spent weeks preparing for this event, where we gave away many prizes and backpacks.

We designed the Bash to be a one-stop shop to get all of our students and families ready for school and eliminate the traditional hiccups associated with the first day of school. We offered information about school registration and enrollment, details about immunizations, class schedules and supply lists, afterschool enrichment programs, backpacks, bicycles, car seats and just about everything our students need to arrive at school on Day One, ready for instruction.

But it wasn’t all school business! We had our new police officers, the Fox5 Storm Chaser, V-103, our food trucks, and other fun activities for event. Many thanks to our presenting sponsor Newell Brands and to our other sponsors including media sponsors Fox5 Helping Hands, WAOK 1380 AM and V-103 and gold sponsors Gas South, Georgia Natural Gas, Georgia Pacific Foundation, Pinnacle Credit Union, Google fiber, Graphic Packaging and Waffle House for getting our students Day One ready!

Two Days until Day One

Ever since our students and my colleagues left for the summer, I have been missing them. So whenever there is a school event or an athletic or extracurricular activity over the summer, I wanted to be there. On Monday, many of our schools opened their doors to the community early as part of their Day One preparations.

I was happy to see what was happening all over the district. I especially enjoyed seeing our newly consolidated schools – Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy, Michael R. Hollis Innovation Academy and Woodson Park Academy.

Check out my Twitter feed @ATLsuper to see tweets and photos of the many schools that opened their doors early.

I wish I could have visited all of the schools, but I only have so many hours in the day. As I did last year, my team and I will be taking one of our own buses around the district on Day One (and Days Two and Three as well) to visit as many schools, students, families, teachers and staff as possible to review our preparedness and excitement.

Be sure to follow our reports about Day One in APS both here and on Twitter!

One Day … and Counting

And now we are within a day of Day One in Atlanta Public Schools.

3,111 teachers are ready for Day One.

212 school administrators are ready for Day One.

364 bus drivers are ready for Day One.

95 cafeteria workers are ready for Day One.

469 paraprofessionals are ready for Day One.

894 school support staff, including counselors, social workers, media specialists and administrative assistants, are ready for Day One.

158 custodians are ready for Day One.

68 School Resource Officers are ready for Day One.

530 district-wide support staff, including staff in the Center for Learning and Leadership and in facilities services buildings across the district, are ready for Day One.

More than 600 parents and community members of our GO Teams are ready for Day One.

Nine members of the Atlanta Board of Education are ready for Day One.

And, finally, one superintendent is ready for Day One!

Atlanta Public Schools is ready for Day One! Are you?

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