As we near the big school breaks, we often spend time counting the days, then the hours and then the minutes until we can have extended time with our loved ones and friends. Our APS team and students have worked hard so far this semester, and they all need this much-deserved break. After all, it’s been 16 weeks with no break so folks are reeeeaaadddyyyyy for some chill time.
But for a moment, I encourage all of us to count our blessings and the many reasons we should be thankful to be a part of Atlanta Public Schools. For me, here’s a count(down)!
10. I am thankful that my life and career brought me to Atlanta nearly six years ago. I often quote Aristotle – “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation” – when I consider this blessing, which has been both the most challenging and most rewarding part of my career.
9. I am thankful for the spirit of Atlanta – the birthplace of a King, the crucible of the Civil Rights Movement, the International Gateway to the Southeastern United States and the City Too Busy to Hate. This is a city that inspires, innovates and influences, and it’s a blessing to be here.
8. I am thankful to our school board members and all of my APS colleagues for doing the work in support of our families and students especially as we continue the difficult lifting required to create the kind of transformation that is so desperately needed in Atlanta Public Schools.
7. I am thankful for our many partners – more than 300 of them! – who have found their way back to APS through donations, expertise or sweat equity and joined us for an EPIC State of the District at Harper-Archer Elementary School.
6. I am thankful for the voters in Atlanta, who overwhelmingly reinvested in Atlanta’s kids with the renewal of the E-SPLOST, a penny sales tax that goes toward much-needed renovations of our schools, technology, buses, athletic facilities and school security enhancements. Without raising the millage, we have constructed new buildings or completed major renovations or substantial additions to 17 schools, which is about 20% of our infrastructure, with more coming online next year.
5. I am thankful for our district priority of social emotional learning, where all students can be taught skills like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making, to reach their hopes and dreams. And I am thankful that Atlanta Public Schools is at the forefront of this national movement.
4. I am thankful for Delta Airlines and TutorMate for working with hundreds of our students on the essential skill of literacy. And I am thankful that the Urban League of Greater Atlanta has joined us in full force for our new literacy campaign. With a grant from the Urban League and the Hewlett Foundation, we will continue our Race 2 Read campaign, which challenges our students and community to pleasure read together at least 20 minutes each day. We have a district-wide goal to log more than 10 million minutes of reading over the course of the year.
3. I am thankful for our parents, our caregivers, our grandparents, our families and friends who do everything they can to get our children to school each day ready to learn. I am thankful for them trying to find teachable moments in every day.
2. I am thankful for our school-based team members, who serve at the frontlines of our schools. They have spent many days (and nights and, often, weekends) in service to our students. We have a specific mission to graduate every student ready for college and career, and they are dedicated to giving them the smarts … and the hearts … to be better people than we could ever be.
1. Most of all … I am thankful for our beautiful, glorious, talented students, who never stop amazing me from our APyeS! Awards to the State of the District to the Anti-Defamation League’s Concert Against Hate. We must never lose faith in them or ever stop being thankful that they give us reasons to show up for work every day. They are first in our mission, first in our vision and first in our core values. Our children are my True North!
Again, I am #APSthankful and thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!