Thank You to the Sullivan Foundation and the City of Selma!

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Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate #Selma50!

I cannot begin to express how ecstatic and humble I feel. I keep telling myself, family and friends how undeserving I feel to be the first recipient of the Sullivan and Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson Foundation Phoenix Award. There are so many people – people who paved the path … people who walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and made the march to Montgomery 50 years ago … people who are still alive and contributing … that deserve this award more than me.

Two weeks ago, I had the amazing honor and privilege to stand at the bedside of one of them: Dr. Joseph E. Lowery.

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These brilliant APS students were a part of the APS/SCLC trip organized by our Curriculum and Instruction department.

At 93, Dr. Lowery, although not feeling his best, is still a firecracker, still dynamic with the wit, charm and passion about issues for which he is known. In the short time I talked with him, it was like taking a college course on leadership, civil rights and citizenship all wrapped into one.

I told him about the award and my reservations about being the first recipient when there are men and women like him still around. He gave a gentle laugh and shook his head. He said the award recognizes my passion for children.

And he told me to accept the award and live up to the award. First, he said, by engaging our students, like the beautiful young men and women from CSK Young Women’s Leadership Academy and Atlanta International School who joined me in Selma this weekend. Dr. Lowery said you cannot let them continue on the path that they have been on and not let them be engaged about their future. Give them hope, he said.

And secondly, he said: Take that passion you have for students – don’t let the politics of Atlanta or Georgia, or anywhere else distract you from your mission to do right – and fight for our children.

I was so honored to be standing there at the Jackson House, a true touchstone of the Civil Rights movement, the humble home of Sullivan and Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson, who made their home available during the 1965 Voting Rights movement to give Civil Rights leader a safe and comfortable respite amid the struggle.

It’s a special place for me, as a Daughter of Selma. I come here, I see my parents, I see my friends from elementary, middle and high school, and I am refreshed, rejuvenated, and reminded that although much has been accomplished, much still needs to be done.

I don’t have to tell you that Selma—on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, holds and will forever hold, a special, if complex, place in the American consciousness for its role in the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. But, for me, Selma has always been in my heart and mind, holding me steady, serving as my true north – the compass that has allowed my career path to complete a full circle.

My Selma upbringing paved the way for me to take on what some have labeled the most challenging school district in America. If I had not been raised, educated and employed here in Selma, I don’t think I would have been fully prepared for the kind of work required of me in education, certainly not the kind of work for a school superintendent in an urban setting.

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What an incredible day. This award was such an honor. Thank you Ms. Jackson.

It helped me to tackle challenges with integrity, passion and grit that only Selma knows how to teach, courageousness in the face of adversity and recognition of realities about how much more we still have to overcome, and in some cases, do again. Selma helped me strive to build consensus and coalitions … often where there would have been none … and to understand when to lead, when to follow, and when to just tell naysayers and idle hands to get the heck out of the way.

It helped me at a very early stage of my career to determine exactly what it is I stand for and what I fight for. I live every day of my life without fear or worry because of traits of self-assurance and achievement my town and my family helped hardwire into me. I’ve invested in these traits and now use them as strengths to champion education for our APS children.

So I believe my job … the job of a community … must be to ensure that every student has access to a high quality education. With that high quality education, we have the power to break the cycle of poverty, the cycle of ignorance, the cycle of violence, the cycle of corruption. And, that happens because a high quality education also provides students with the skills to give them choices in life.

And as much as I am humbled by the award, I believe that is what I was raised to do when still a girl here in Selma, that is what Dr. Lowery told me to do.

Take my passion and fight for our children.

And I promise you now – as I promised Dr. Lowery two weeks ago – that I will fight to make things right for children and families again in APS.

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A special shoutout to my BOE member Eshe Collins and our awesome bus drivers who came all the way to Selma to celebrate the city’s moment in history.

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Our friends over at the Atlanta International School organized an incredible learning experience between their school and CSK Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

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Looking good CSK ladies! I hope you enjoyed your weekend in my hometown.

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We were fortunate to have a civil rights foot soldier in our midst. This kind woman explained to students how she marched 50 years ago…and again today.

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What a fabulous museum. This house is a snapshot in time.

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Students were given the history of “the boot room” in the Jackson home, then they saw the real room in person.

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The tours were great! Thank you Ms. Jackson for inviting our students.

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That chair…that is THE chair in THE room where MLK sat and watched President Johnson speak about the Selma marches on television. Cool!

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Selma’s Mayor Evans with Madeline of Grady High School. Madeline was one of three Grady reporters who received White House Press access this weekend and covered the events.

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A HUGE thank you to our fearless school leaders from Atlanta International School. You guys rock.






Happy Friday! Great Opportunities for APS High School Students

Happy Friday! We’ve been presented with some great opportunities for our APS high school students!

selmaessayCalling all APS high school students! Martin Luther King, Jr. used his words to change history. How will you use yours? The National Liberty Museum’s Selma Speech & Essay Contest is open to APS High School students ages 14-18 (as of the January 30 deadline), and the grand prize is $5,000! After viewing the Paramount Pictures film, SELMA, contestants are asked to respond to the contest topic, “ What do you think needs to be done today to protect individual freedom and self-determination? What are you doing or will you do to peacefully advance those rights,” with an original 500-700 word essay and videotaped speech reading of their essay. Deadline for submissions is February 15, 2015.  For rules, visit www.libertymuseumselmacontest.org

ptree_farmers_mkt_logo_low-res_400x400In partnership with Country Financial, the Peachtree Road Farmers Market is hosting their third annual Peachtree Road Farmers Market Reusable Bag Design Contest. Winners will see their designs on reusable shopping bags at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market throughout the season!  The theme this year is “Live, Love, Be Green.”  The winning student will receive a $1,000 scholarship in addition to having their artwork distributed throughout the city on reusable shopping bags.  The deadline is March 6, 2015. CLICK HERE or visithttp://www.peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com/pdf/2015_PRFM_Bag_Design_Contest.pdf to learn more.
 
CouncilofGreatCity_LogoNamed for the first African-American to walk in space, ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarships are available to 2015 graduating high school seniors in school districts represented by the Council of the Great City Schools. (By the way, APS is a member of the Council of Great City Schools.)  Four scholarships for two males and two females — $5,000 each — will be awarded to two African-American and two Hispanic students on behalf of the former NASA astronaut, physician and businessman, Dr. Bernard Harris, and ExxonMobil.  Deadline for submissions is April 8, 2015. Click here to access the Council of Great City Schools website. Here’s the link to the application:  http://cgcs.org/cms/lib/DC00001581/Centricity/Domain/19/2015%20ExxonMobil%20Bernard%20Harris%20Scholarship%20Applicatoin.pdf

“SELMA” for APS Students – High school students can go for FREE while supplies last!!!

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Everyone who knows me, knows that I am passionate about education.  If there is anything that rivals my love of public education…it is my love for my hometown of Selma, Alabama.

This year Selma celebrates the 50th anniversary of the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  This was a social justice campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of opposition.

Paramount Pictures recently released the movie “SELMA” which tells the story of this movement.  The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when civil rights leaders, many from right here in Atlanta, won one of the most significant victories of the movements’ history. King attended APS’ Booker T. Washington High School and entered Morehouse College during his junior year in high school.  I am thrilled that the Atlanta community answered the challenge set by business leaders in New York and throughout the nation, and will kick off the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday weekend by providing free movie tickets for “SELMA” to 10,000 APS high school (9th-12th grades) students beginning Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015.

Members of the Atlanta community raised more than $100,000 to purchase tickets for the film. Director Ava DuVernay’s “SELMA” tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history. The film also stars Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, with Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey as “Annie Lee Cooper.”

The movie has an excellent educational component for our teachers that includes lesson plans that meet Common Core Standards to incorporate into the district’s curriculum.

STUDENT “ASSIGNMENT”: Our students who present a current Atlanta Public Schools’ ID or report card at the box office of any participating theater will receive free admission while tickets last. The metro Atlanta theaters are:

  • AMC PARKWAY POINTE 15-Atlanta
  • AMC PHIPPS PLAZA 14-ATLANTA
  • AMC SOUTHLAKE 24-MORROW
  • AMC STONECREST 16-LITHONIA
  • CARMIKE CINEMAS MOVIES ATL 14-ATLANTA
  • REGAL ATLANTIC STATION 18 IMAX & RPX-ATLANTA
  • REGAL HOLLYWOOD 24 @ NORTH I-85-CHAMBLEE
  • REGAL PERIMETER POINT STADIUM 10-ATLANTA

The diversity of our group of funders accurately represents our city.  We’re proud of the fact that people from all backgrounds and income levels that have come forward to share Dr. King’s message with APS students.  We had a range of donations where people gave what they could, including one very special $16 gift.  I love this city’s generous nature and our generous corporations, Chick-fil-A and Newell Rubbermaid, as well as well as individuals of all means who came together to make this happen.

I appreciate the efforts of Dr. Michael Lomax, president & CEO, United Negro College Fund; Hala Moddelmog, president & CEO, Metro Atlanta Chamber; and Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., president, Morehouse College.

In addition, the following supporters are making it possible for 10,000 APS high school students to see “SELMA”:

Large Funders $10,000

Chick-fil-A

Ford Foundation

Greenberg Traurig

Bill Lewis & Carol Sutton-Lewis
Chuck Phillips
Myrtle Potter & Alan Thompson
Newell Rubbermaid

The Family of Meria Carstarphen

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Other Funders ($9,999-$1,000)

Atlanta Board of Education

AFCME

Coast to Coast Tours

Georgia-Pacific & Youth Entrepreneurs Georgia

Georgia Natural Gas

Hara Amdemariam

H.J. Russell and Company

Kathy and Kenny Waller

Metro Atlanta Chamber

The Integral Group

Thomas Kennedy Sampson & Tompkins

United Way of Metro Atlanta

Endorsing Organizations

100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc.

Atlanta Business League

Atlanta City Council

Atlanta Women’s Club

Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA

CARE

Dogwood City Chapter of The Links, Incorporated

First Congregational Church

National Black MBA Association – Atlanta Chapter

National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. – Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter

National Sales Network Atlanta

S.C.L.C Women

The Andrew Young Foundation

The C. T. Vivian Leadership Institute

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights

The Urban League of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta

Endorsing Individuals

Fulton County Chairman John Eaves

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard

Mr. Lonnie King

Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell

Dr. C. T. Vivian

Ambassador Andrew J. Young

“SELMA” is nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Picture and Best Original Song for “Glory” by Common & John Legend. The film earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Song for “Glory” and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.

The film’s educational outreach includes a curriculum guide with 11 interdisciplinary lesson plans in Social Studies, ELA, Geography, Math and Art. All lessons meet Common Core State Standards.  Educators and parents may download a curriculum guide by visiting:

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We’ve put up a page on the district’s website – for more information about theaters and show times for this weekend visit www.atlantapublicschools.us/selma or follow the Twitter hashtag #selmaforstudents.