The Heroes of Heritage Academy

imagejpeg_0Teachers were the celebrated superheroes during Teacher Appreciation Week at Heritage Academy and the students and school leaders were celebrating with special costumes, themed days and teacher toolkit gifts from our partners at Newell Rubbermaid.

I spent time last week handing out toolkits, filled with essential classroom supplies, and getting to know more about the students and staff at Heritage.  I really wanted to know more about their improvement in one particular content area…math.

Principal Trennis Harvey was excited to tell me about his school’s academic journey.  He said that a couple of years ago he took a hard look at the ability of the students in his school and how they were performing in core content areas.  He had long and thoughtful conversations with his teachers and realized that the area in need of immediate attention was math.  Students were arriving at the school deficient in their math skills and teachers were unable to teach the standards at grade level because students 20150506_085857didn’t have the prerequisite skills necessary to succeed.  So Principal Harvey set out to make a change. The entire Heritage Academy now works on basic math skills every single day beginning at 8:00am until 8:30am. The focus is on the building blocks of math. The steps that often stump students when they move on to higher math skills in the middle grades.

The results have been noticeable.  Heritage Academy grew 28 percentage points (from 54% to 82%) in math proficiency from 2012 to 2014, the largest growth of any elementary school in the district.  I visited several classrooms where fantastic math instruction was indeed taking place.  From fourth graders working on order of operations to younger students understanding the value of money, students in every single classroom were on task and excited about learning.  As we handed out gifts to teachers, I took a moment to work with one kindergarten class on patterns and helped another young student add with her coins. I love being inside of our schools!


Oh, and the school was immaculate. I had the pleasure of meeting the school’s custodian, Mr. Brown, and I tell you – we need more folks like him in APS. The school looked good, smelled good and felt inviting because of all of his hard work.

Thanks Heritage Academy for welcoming me and keep up the phenomenal work!

Rally for Reading with Rubbermaid: Guest Blogger David Jernigan, Deputy Superintendent

BoydRUBBERMAID2014-003I was excited to be on hand last week for a Reading Rally Assembly hosted by Newell Rubbermaid, the district’s newest partner and our friends at Scholastic Book Fairs as they donated new books to the students of William Boyd Elementary School.  This was a part of Newell Rubbermaid’s second-annual Global Day of Service where dozens of employees volunteered during the day at both Boyd and Burgess Peterson Academy.

BoydRUBBERMAID2014-005It was important to me for the students to understand what it meant to be generous, so I asked each of them to think really hard about their favorite toy or game.  Then I asked them to imagine what it would be like to give that toy or game away to their friend.  That feeling…that’s what it means to be generous, I explained, and that is what our partners at Newell Rubbermaid and Scholastic were doing with their time, talent and donations.BoydRUBBERMAID2014-007

 In addition to the donation of five books per student, (a total of 2,500 books), Newell Rubbermaid will also donate a Community Reading Oasis to both schools in the near future.  This will be a special room in the school where students can relax, enjoy books and read in a peaceful environment.  The hope is that the space will give families an opportunity to enjoy reading together.  It will be filled with reading themed artwork, furniture and even a listening library!  Teachers also received supplies, including dry erase markers that are always in high demand at any school! As a former classroom teacher and school leader, I can tell you that classroom supply donations make a difference!BoydRUBBERMAID2014-006

How did the kids thank Newell Rubbermaid President and CEO Michael Polk, all of our volunteers and our school leaders and staff for working together to create this opportunity?  We sang my favorite thank you song – it was a hit with my 3rd graders back in the day.  “That’s the BoydRUBBERMAID2014-011way, un huh un huh, I like it!”  When we finished singing and dancing, Mr. Polk said it was the BEST thank-you he had ever received!

I believe that partnerships like this can really make a difference in a child’s life because that child has something special to bring home, use and share with his or her family.  I also love that our kids get to see the values of service and generosity modeled firsthand by leaders in our community.  I look forward to seeing the finished Oasis rooms at both Boyd and Burgess.BoydRUBBERMAID2014-007 BoydRUBBERMAID2014-012 BoydRUBBERMAID2014-010 BoydRUBBERMAID2014-009 BoydRUBBERMAID2014-004 BoydRUBBERMAID2014-002 BoydRUBBERMAID2014-001