New Experiences – New Year!

Grady Group Shot

Hats…well, helmets off, to a great group of players. Thanks for taking me through those drills!

Back-to-school is all about trying new things and having new experiences. Last week, as I prepared for the new school year, I decided to try something new for the very first time. I’ve been blogging about my running experience and recent Peachtree race, and believe it or not, I’ve continued my training. I figured I was in pretty decent shape when I stepped on the field to practice with the Grady High School Varsity football team and Mays High School Varsity football team during two of my stops across the district in preparation for the first day of school.


Several of these players at Mays have already chosen their colleges for next year. I enjoyed talking to them about the reasons behind their choices.

I put my practice gear on, #11 at Grady and lucky #13 at Mays, (13 is lucky for me because it’s the day of the month on which I was born), then broke a mean sweat as I participated in individual agility drills and situational team drills. Whew, these players are relentless. We were outside at Grady and although practice was after 6 p.m., man was it hot!  They put me through some serious conditioning. At Mays, the skies opened up with an amazing thunderstorm as practice began, sending us into the gym for a couple of hours of practice.

Grady Picture

Girl Power! Thanks for showing me the ropes Jayla Shropshire! Enjoy your season.

Earthwind Moreland, the coach at Grady is a Grady graduate, former NFL player and second-year head coach. Corey Jarvis of Mays is also an APS alum and is returning another very strong team – last year they were Class AAAAA (5A) State Runner-ups. I was welcomed with open arms by Principal Guiney at Grady and Principal Fowler at Mays.

Goodness gracious! Student athletes are no joke. So many of the lessons learned on the field can be applied to the classroom. These athletes were so patient with me, and guess what – I even caught an over the shoulder pass which was very difficult for me, but the players made it look easy.

A huge treat was visiting with the Mays High School Marching Raiders band prior to my practice with the football team.






Got it! Whoo Hooo!

I had an awesome time practicing with the Mays Raider Band, under the direction of Mr. William Oliver. I played the drums, marched with cymbals and co-directed the band through several pop and dance tunes, from Michael Jackson to Usher. They even let me try on a band uniform – check out my picture below. The school’s principal tells me that Mays is next on the list for new band uniforms, so this could very well be the final year for the ensemble I’m wearing.  Before leaving, these talented students serenaded me with Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.”


I felt SO SPECIAL when they allowed me to try on a Mays High Marching Band uniform! How cool is this!

This time of year is as exciting for me as it is for our students. Being on the field with our football players was a great way to connect with our students and some great fun for me. It was also a good time to make sure students know that our principals, teachers, and the entire district team have been working hard this summer to make sure we are ready to support them in every way possible this school year.

What a great band. Looking forward to seeing them in action this year.

What a great band. Looking forward to seeing them in action this year.

We are switching into high gear tomorrow! Open house events for Atlanta Public Schools are Monday, Aug. 3: High Schools (1 p.m.-3 p.m.); Middle Schools (3 p.m.-5 p.m.); Elementary Schools (5 p.m.-7 p.m.). Classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 5.

I’ll join the fellas over at B.E.S.T. Academy this week for another football practice as well and having fun with families at South Atlanta High during open house..

For more on registration and enrollment and transportation, please<!dayoneaps/c1jfq>.

I can’t wait for our fall sports to begin. Looking forward to seeing all my scholar-athletes from practice on the football field.


We were jamming! Thanks Mays Raiders for allowing me to practice my drum major skills.


Our drumline was on fire!

Grady Cheer

Three cheers for an awesome season!


What an amazing feeling to run across the field in my Grady gear.


It wasn’t long before they forgot all about my being the superintendent. These players are awesome.


Grrrrr! I gave it every bit of energy I had, but I was no match for this Mays defensive line.


Good coaches don’t give up on you!

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.

Go! Raiders Go! The Benjamin E. Mays football team is history in the making

Mays FootballA big congratulations to the Benjamin E. Mays football team after a big win last Friday. Tonight the Mays Raiders take on the Northside Eagles of Warner Robbins in the GHSA Class AAAAA State Championship.

These talented students, coaches and staff are making history! Not only is this the first Mays football team ever to make it to the state championship, when they win tonight, the Raiders will be the first APS football team to win a state championship in over three decades. The last school to do this was Southwest High School in 1973. Mays-SendOFF_12-12-2014063

The game will take place tonight December 12, 2014, 8:00 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. Tickets are $20.

So make sure you fill the Dome and show your APS pride.

Congratulations again to Coach Jarvis and his football team. The entire district is cheering for you.

We Believe!!!!

Go Raiders!  Go!

Benjamin E. Mays Raiders brings GHSA state quarterfinal football contest to Lakewood Stadium


Coach Jarvis and players from the Mays Raiders football team at the 2014 APS Media Day event.

Congratulations are in order AGAIN for our Benjamin E. Mays Raiders football team! They pulled off a spectacular upset last Friday with a 21-18 victory over the number one ranked Ware County Gators in Waycross, Ga.

The Raiders now advance to the Georgia High School Association state quarterfinals for the first time in school history and host the Jones County Greyhounds at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 28 at Lakewood Stadium. This is the first time in four years that APS has hosted a quarterfinal football contest. The Grady Knights were the last to accomplish this in 2010.

Come show your Raider and APS pride! Tickets to the game this Friday are $12.

Congratulations to Coach Jarvis and his football team. The entire district is cheering for you and supporting our students this weekend as they compete to advance to the semi-finals of the GHSA state playoffs.


Let’s go Maaaays…LET’S GO!

                    I just received this note from our athletic director Jasper Jewell.                      Way to go Mays High School!10698624_988082771205777_3443144641954910743_n-2“Please join me in congratulating the Mays High Varsity Competition Cheerleading squad for becoming Region 6AAAA Champions this past Saturday at Kennesaw Mountain High School. This is the first region championship in cheerleading since 2003 for Atlanta Public Schools. The Raiders will now compete at the GHSA State Cheer Finals on this Saturday, Nov. 15 at the Columbus Civic Center, in Columbus, Ga. Great job Raiders, under the dynamic leadership of Head Coach Dana Stiles, Assistant Coach Tiffany Davenport, Mays Athletic Director Natasha Harrigan, District Athletic Director Jasper Jewel and Principal Richard Fowler.”




‘Shout Out’ to our great students, teachers and schools

There are a lot of GREAT things happening in our district.  Each month I will give “shout outs” to students, staff and volunteers who are helping us achieve excellence in Atlanta Public Schools.

Let’s give a shout out to…

The 38 North Atlanta High School students who competed against students from 17 other high schools in the Embracing Differences-Students Draw the Line Against Prejudice contest. They made a clean sweep walking away with all three awards for the high school category. Congratulations to the three student winners: Erin Jimison, Maggie Richardson,  and Allie Barbone.

Our ten Posse finalists at Benjamin E. Mays and Maynard Jackson high schools. Congrats Maria Gallo-Blanco, Jamiah Shoemake, Nia Carter, Lena Adams, Angel Gabriel, Keairra Brown, Danielle Simmons, Selema Gonzalez, Kennedi Brantley, and Atia Butts!

Posse finalist from Mays High School.

Posse finalists from Mays High School.

Maynard Jackson High School students Cecilia Cole and Selema Gonzalez who earned Superior ratings for their solos at the Georgia Music Educators Association Festival.  They performed Italian Arias and operatic solos, for an adjudicator for the coveted top rating.

Henry W. Grady High School’s debate team, “The Grady Jesters” which competed in the Saint James School Speech and Debate Tournament in Montgomery, Ala. winning the award for Overall Sweepstakes Champions!

B.E.S.T Academy High School students, Tyler Bivens and Kaleb Anderson! Both have been selected to intern with the Atlanta Hawks for three months!  This opportunity will provide these students with some very valuable experiences.

Way to go APS! Keep up the great work.

Two Mays High School Football Players are Army Football Strong!

ALLam2014-012Today, two of our hardworking scholar athletes, seniors Natrez Patrick and Dallaw Warmack of Benjamin E. Mays High School, were selected to play in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.  The game will take place January 3 in San Antonio, TX.  Army Bowl officials were on hand to present each player with an Army Bowl game jersey.

The Army All-American Bowl is considered the nation’s premier high school All-American football game and features 90 of the best players in the country.

Let’s all plan to join the more than 40,000 fans expected to watch the game, January 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm on NBC.

Congratulations to both of these young men!

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