As we start National Teacher Appreciation Week, take time to #ThankATeacher!

Today marks the start of National Teacher Appreciation Week, and our beloved APS teachers deserve recognition now more than ever! As we collectively continue to work through these unprecedented times, our teachers – many of whom have children and families of their own to care for – have taken on the challenges of virtual learning and other wraparound supports with passion and compassion for our scholars and families.

I offer this tribute video to our teachers with much love and air hugs until we can all be together again!

Please join me as I say THANK YOU, and I APPRECIATE YOU to our dynamic APS educators across the District through a weeklong series of virtual celebrations that include virtual yoga, a comedy show, and an Instagram Live dance party! I can’t wait to have fun with you all week long.

My Message to Teachers of Atlanta Public Schools

Good morning, beloved teachers of Atlanta Public Schools!

Six weeks into school closure for teleschooling and teleworking, and here we are. Stronger and smarter for all the trials and tribulations in the wake of COVID-19. How can we in Atlanta thank the hundreds of teachers like you who not only bore a significant brunt of the heavy lift but do so with an unrivaled grace under pressure?

Not only did we ask you to continue the hard work of educating our beautiful and talented students, but our ask also came under unusual and sometimes seemingly untenable circumstances. You had to create virtual classrooms and experiment with new and unfamiliar methods – all in real time. You had to find new ways to connect with students and colleagues –from a distance! And for many, you did all of these things while taking care of your own children’s schooling and your families’ well-being.

I wish I could call out every single of one of our amazing, talented, beautiful teachers. I see you on social media every day. Please continue sharing your stories with me and the entire APS community. I do want to highlight a few of you now!

Of course, we have Tracey Pendley of Burgess-Peterson Academy, who because of COVID-19 has had her tenure as Georgia Teacher of the Year extended another year! I may be biased, but I think Tracey has been one of the most engaging, spirited Teachers of the Year that this state has ever seen.

Yo, Grady Cluster! From your cluster, we have our current district-wide Teacher of the Year Krissi Davis. Her reaction to receiving this honor at the APyeS awards last semester is as priceless as the instruction she gives as Orchestra Director at Grady High School.

I want to shout to all of our teachers from our Jackson and North Atlanta clusters and our elementary and middle school Teachers of the Year – Amanda Larkin, who teaches ESOL at Sarah Smith Elementary, and Kamilah Rose Pettway, an 8th grade language and literature teacher at King Middle!

Chef Larry Alford of Washington HS

During this age of social distancing and self-isolation, I am missing so much good food, especially from Chef Larry Alford at Booker T. Washington High. We love you, Chef, and everyone in the Washington Cluster!

Holla to the Douglass Cluster! I saw you, Lisa Perrymond, in the AJC! You are an amazing dance teacher, and I want to thank you and your Trailblazer dancers at Harper-Archer Elementary for all you did for State of the District!

Let’s go to South Atlanta cluster, where our teachers truly show their hearts. Yes, I’m talking about you, Keisha Browning! I saw those lovely messages you mailed to each of your Dobbs Elementary first graders!

And we have leaders among our teachers, don’t we Mays and Therrell clusters? I’m thinking about Dr. Katie Sudduth, master teacher leader at Young Middle, who has been critical to the turnaround efforts there, and Lockett Amey, kindergarten teacher at Fickett Elementary, who also serves as a teacher recruitment ambassador and a member of the Teacher Advisory Council. A special shout to all members of the Teacher Advisory Council, who have devoted time and energy and guidance throughout my tenure.

Lockett Amey, kindergarten at Fickett ES

I’ve been worried about literacy during the pandemic. But we have reading superstars, don’t we Carver Cluster? Teachers like Ashley Williams, who teaches 7th grade at Sylvan Hills Middle and has been recognized for her work in literacy and is one of our ELA Ambassadors. And I must give a shout out to The Book Wrangler – Mike Rawls, media specialist at Morningside Elementary – who inspires me and others to read every day.

And our charter schools have superstars, too, like Sammy Rigaud at Kindezi Fourth Ward, who rewards his achieving students with the spotlight on Freestyle Fridays!

Because of your hard work this year, we are more excited than ever to celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week this week. Frankly, a week hardly seems enough to express the gratitude and appreciation we believe you deserve.

The district has some fantastic activities in place to celebrate you and to give you a few moments of fun, respite, and reconnection with your friends and colleagues. This includes yoga, a comedy show with comedian/educator Cornelius George and a virtual party with V-103 DJ Greg Street

We have already started the virtual APS Rocks and Runs, created last year as a benefit for APS teachers. While we won’t be hoofing it through the historic West End as intended, your friends and colleagues are running in your honor from all corners of Atlanta and surrounding areas for the next two weeks!

All of this is only a small token of our love, respect, and thankfulness we all hold for the beloved teachers of Atlanta Public Schools.

With much love and air hugs until we can all be together again!

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