A Beautiful READesign for West Manor Elementary School

WManor2014-110I was excited to be on hand this week as we helped Target and The Heart of America Foundation unveil West Manor Elementary’s newly renovated school library!

The renovated space features 2,000 new books, furniture, carpet, shelves, 25 iPads, a flat screen television; and a school broadcast video system complete with a mixer, laptop, teleprompter and green screen for closed-caption televised morning announcements inside the classrooms.  Following the ribbon cutting, each West Manor student received a Target backpack with seven books to take home.

WManor2014-123So many Target employee volunteers from all across metro Atlanta, as well as volunteers from The Heart of America Foundation decorated the library and put books on shelves.  This was a big job and they did it with a smile.

Congratulations to Principal Dr. Reginald Lawrence on this new fantastic space for our students and a big thank you to Tom Knowles, community captain for Target Atlanta, John Flynn, vice president of READesign for The Heart of America Foundation, our friends from The United Way, Horizons and community volunteers for their support of West Manor and so many of our other APS schools.  I’ve been a part of these library make-overs in my past districts as well, but this is my first full library makeover in Atlanta.  I can truly say that they make a huge impact on the passion students have for reading.  Books have the power to change a child’s life and we really appreciate all of our corporate sponsors and volunteers!


Leaders love to have fun! Thank you Danielle Battle, Associate Superintendent, for joining me for this great event.

Big things are happening at West Manor Elementary. Last week this school made the 2013 and 2014 lists of Georgia Department of Education reward schools! Rewards schools are among the top schools in the state for having the highest performance or highest gains by students over a three-year period.  I am really excited about the great things going on at this school.

Congratulations, West Manor! And, again, thank you to everyone for supporting this school.

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FedEx Helps Hutchinson Elementary School Blow the Cover Off Reading


Hutchinson is the first school in APS to receive a READesign Reading Corner.

I spent Tuesday morning at Hutchinson Elementary School where the generous volunteers from FedEx and The Heart of America Foundation were building a reading corner filled with brand new books!  It was exciting to see the FedEx volunteers putting the finishing touches on the reading corner, hosting story time in the classrooms.  Hutchinson is the first school in APS to receive a READesign Reading Corner.  Not only did volunteers stuff their media center with 250 additional library-quality books, but each student also received two new books to take home.


Reading makes kids smart.

The folks over at The Heart of America Foundation and FedEx were great students and they did their homework on Hutchinson.  When they found out the school served more than 20% of English Language Learner students, they made sure the donation contained books written in both Spanish and English!  Research shows that one positive experience with reading can turn a child into a good reader.  If compelling, comprehensible material is available, even the most reluctant reader can develop literacy skills for a lifetime.


Time for a selfie with John Flynn, Vice President of Reading Design at The Heart of America Foundation.

Students at Hutchinson were reminded that reading makes them smart, builds their vocabulary and spelling and it connects everything – from math and social studies to science and art – reading helps kids understand all of their subjects better.  Literacy is the cornerstone of learning and everyone has a role to play.

It was important to me to remind the students that Principal Shaunta Broadway and Media Specialist Ms. Shirley Miller aren’t the only ones in charge of reading at Hutchinson.  In fact the principal and media specialist are only a small part of the reading puzzle at all of FedEXhutch2014-200our schools.  Parents, teachers and counselors as well as bus drivers, cafeteria staff and community partners need to ask kids, “What are you reading today?”   We can all work together to encourage students to read and provide them with opportunities for sustained, silent reading in all subjects on topics that interest them. That way, we can lead our students to deeper thinking, which results in higher achievement.


Thank you FedEx!

A special thank you to John Flynn, Vice President of Reading Design at The Heart of America Foundation, Board of Education member Eshe’ Collins and Instructional Technology Coordinator Warren Goetzel for joining us during the celebration.  Thanks again to our partners for their generosity!


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