The Grady High School PTA in conjunction with Trees Atlanta honored APS Superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall on Wednesday morning by planting a tree in her name. Officials from Grady, the Grady PTA, Trees Atlanta and the Atlanta Board of Education were on hand for the celebration, which recognized Dr. Hall’s being named national superintendent of the year last February.
Dr. Hall, Trees Atlanta Program Coordinator Robby Astrove and other officials joined in on the actual planting of the tree, an October Glory Maple, after Astrove desribed the importance of the tree. “This isn’t some plaque,” Astrove explained. “This is something that’s very interactive and very much alive. May we all return to this tree and recall the wonderful accomplishments you’ve had.” Dr. Hall grew emotional in accepting the honor, which was the brainchild of last year’s Grady PTA president, Susan Muntzing.
“The reason why I was more emotional than I have been in the past with these awards is this is something that will be here long after I’m the super and long after I’m alive,” Dr. Hall said. “To think that there’ll be generations of people who will walk by, see a nice tree, relax and sit and read, someone may think, ‘Who was this person and why did they plant this tree in their honor? And they do some research and find out about the work we’ve done. So this is a living award — living breathing, and will continue in the future.”
Said Muntzig: “Dr. Hall has done a fabulous job with Atlanta Public Schools, and it’s proven by her record. It’s very exciting that Atlanta has the longest-running superintendent among large cities, and we’re so lucky to have her. Dr. Hall understands Grady, and appreciates how Grady is such a special place.”
The ceremony also served as an opportunity to showcase the partnership between APS and Trees Atlanta, which has included Grady in the Midtown Aboretum featuring 80 trees in the surrounding Midtown neighborhood, Astrove pointed out. He cited the group’s work with neighborhoods and schools along the proposed BeltLine Arboretum, and an upcoming tree-planting project including six APS schools in the West End thanks to a grant from the Georgia Forestry Commission. Astrove also cited the hard work of Grady teacher Korri Ellis, who has been very active in the Trees Atlanta partnership. Ellis is also the 2008 APS High School Teacher of the Year. This partnership will be the focus of a feature in the upcoming issue of APS’ quarterly magazine, The Atlanta Educator, due out in November.
Also present at the ceremony were Atlanta Board of Education member Cecily Harsch-Kinnane (District 3), current Grady High PTA President Vernell Britton and officers from Grady’s student government.
The ceremony was dutifully covered by Grady’s media outlets, including the award-winning The Southerner newspaper, Youth Radio and the Grady News Network.