Milk Mustaches, Mice and Morning Storytime: APS Celebrates Pre-K Week!

This week I wore mouse ears, and I LOVED it!

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What a great group of young learners at Bethune Elementary School! They kept me on my toes.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” is the book being read in pre-kindergarten classrooms throughout the state this week, including in Atlanta Public Schools, as our early learners participate in Georgia Pre-K Week. Pre-K Week is a celebration of the tremendous learning taking place in our Pre-K program and early learning classes. I started my day yesterday with the 4-year-olds at Bethune Elementary School and later visited M. Agnes Jones Elementary School. Together with students and their teachers, we read Laura Numeroff’s sweet book about an insatiable little mouse who is not content with simply receiving a cookie before bedtime. There were plenty of props (I always bring props…remember my guitar last year with Pete the Cat?), there were “a-ha” moments and great questions from our kiddos about the book.

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Students at M. Agnes Jones Elementary gave great feedback and asked a ton of questions!

Quality early education, especially in urban districts, can provide life-changing opportunities to students. One of the reasons I was so excited about becoming the superintendent of APS was that I knew this district, and the state of Georgia, valued the early learning classroom and its teachers. In APS, I am proud to say that we have made a tremendous investment in our earliest learners. We currently have 44 Pre-K classrooms at 39 school sites across the district, serving over 920 students.

Now THAT'S a cookie.

Now THAT’S a cookie.

Our program is growing and thriving under the leadership of Early Learning Coordinator Courtney Jones, and I’m always impressed with the activities I see taking place each month when I visit teachers and students. She’s increased the interaction between our early learning office and parents by becoming active on Twitter (and you know how I love Twitter), and also publishing a monthly online newsletter for parents – Click Here to check out the October edition. And our teachers…oh man, those are our soldiers. One thing I was reminded of this week was that Pre-K students REALLY like to talk…about everything! And they have strong opinions…again, about everything! And they like to hug and even tackle superintendents!

Where am I? Under all of the Pre-K students! They were smothering me with love!

Where am I? Under all of the Pre-K students! They were smothering me with love!

Our teachers are so patient, and loving and smart and they understand the science (and heart), behind teaching our youngest brains. We are a very fortunate district.

Happy Pre-K week everyone – let’s keep this celebration of early learning going all year long!

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16 APS Students Sign Contracts & Commit to REACHing their College Goals

20140924_091521Congratulations to the 16 REACH Scholars of Atlanta Public Schools! They are eighth and ninth graders in our district, members of the “class of 2018” and the “class of 2019.” This morning we held a special ceremony where each scholar signed their scholarship contracts. Yes, it’s THAT serious. The Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Georgia program is a needs-based scholarship that started in 2012 by Governor Nathan Deal.  There are some real obligations and responsibilities that come with being named a REACH Scholar and when our scholars successfully complete the REACH program and graduate from high school, each will be awarded a college scholarship of up to $2,500 per year for a total scholarship of up to $10,000!  Scholarships can be used at any Georgia HOPE-eligible two- or four-year college.

20140924_092622That’s not all! On top of this scholarship award, many colleges have pledged to match the $10,000. Several are even double matching—for a grand scholarship total of $30,000!

Georgia State, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and Georgia Southern have all pledged a double match. If scholars go to those schools, they may receive a scholarship for up to $30,000!

I had to be honest with students about the competition taking place these days when it comes to college admission.  Did you know that India has more honor students than the U.S. has students?  Neither did the students.  The world is knocking on the doors of Georgia’s top colleges and I want to make sure our students are ready to take advantage of the opportunity offered to them today and ready to compete with students from around the globe.  I’m asking everyone, members of the community affirm our own willingness to supporting these REACH Scholars in their journey to adulthood – to commit to supporting these REACH Scholars with our time, talent and treasure as they progress through the REACH program and into college and careers. These commitments are serious, but necessary, for these Scholars to reach their potential.

Congratulations, REACH Scholars, parents and guardians!

APS REACH Scholars in the Class of 2019 (Eighth-Graders)
Quintavious Yarborough Atlanta Neighborhood Charter
Bah Mouhamed BEST Middle
Angela Stephens Bunche Middle
William Flanagan, IV Inman Middle
Elyjah Williams King Middle
Emily Weaver Long Middle
Naafiah Hennie Price Middle
Tori Priest Young Middle
APS REACH Scholars in the Class of 2018 (Current Ninth-Graders)
Jamonte Kearse Carver Early College
William Chaney Carver School of Health Science and Research
DaQuesha McKinnon Carver School of The Arts
Kiara Underwood Douglass HS
Mariah White Jackson HS
Ja’Terious Stokes South Atlanta School of Computer Animation & Design
Cameron Smith Therrell HS
Cameron Bolden Washington HS