District schools show they’re ready for Day One APS

“Has it been a good day, or a crazy day?” we asked one of our principals as he shepherded students onto buses at the end of the first day of school Monday. “It’s been a good day! OK, a crazy day, too, but a good day!” he responded, as Atlanta Public Schools’ nearly 48,000 students got their first taste of the 2010-11 school year.

New schools, new students, new staff, new teachers and new buildings were just a few of the reasons for excitement over the new year, as principals also wrestled with new school bus routes. (Check out a comprehensive list of all the new and exciting things going on at APS here.)

But more than anything, students and parents and educators alike were excited about getting back into class and focusing on what’s important: the business of getting a high-quality education in a school system focused on student success.

Over at Garden Hills Elementary, Principal Amy Wilson (pictured, above) was excited about the school’s participation (along with Gideons Elementary and two Fulton County schools) as an arts partner pilot school with the Woodruff Arts Center. “We will providing professional development for our teachers to provide 21st century learning skills and making sure we integrate the arts into our curriculum,” said Wilson. Each grade level, she says, will be paired with each of the four disciplines at the Woodruff: the High Museum, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Alliance Theatre, and Young Audiences. Students also will have an opportunity to participate in field trips to the Woodruff for various performances.

“We have a large number of students who are English-learning,” Wilson said, “and this program gives them an opportunity to express themselves in a different way.”

We visited the school just as new parent Julie Lord arrived at the school office to present a floral arrangement to the principal. Lord’s son, Koby, transferred from E. Rivers Elementary this year and will be a part of Kelly Knight’s third-grade class. “I was just happy to encourage her,” Lord said of Wilson. “There’s a saying at the school here, ‘No two flowers bloom exactly the same way,’ so I thought it was fitting. I love this school. I’ve been really impressed with their reading curriculum.”

Elsewhere around the district, North Atlanta High Principal Mark MyGrant gave us a tour of the school, which joins Grady High and Mays High as the final three schools to participate in the High School Transformation Initiative. (Check out the photo gallery here.) Decked out in crisp white shirts with blue bottoms, boys and girls at Thomasville Heights Elementary tucked their cartoon-covered backpacks away and quickly settled into classroom instruction. Over at E. Rivers, parents and teachers helped hustle their kids onto school buses and into cars, smiles beaming everywhere. “Enrollment is way up!” said Principal David White, who noted a 10 percent increase from last year. “We are excited about our renovation and expansion beginning next June.”

Among other changes this school year includes the extension of both of the single-gender middle schools into a ninth grade class that  will eventually lead to full-fledged high school. Melody Morgan has moved from principal at the middle school level of the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy to oversee the ninth-grade class. She declared smooth sailing on the first day of school. “The students were excited about starting their high school world,” Morgan said. “The teachers were eager to introduce the high school curriculum. The administration was relieved to get through the planning phase and ready to start the school year. We have a wonderful family and will continue the CSKYWLA traditions with a high school spin. Our Open House was a success. We look forward to a great school year. We are constantly in the pursuit of excellence.”

We’re also excited about the 10 Points of Pride that help make 2010-11  such a special school year.

If you’d like to share your special moment from the first day of school, or “Day One APS,” please email dsimmons@atlantapublicschools.us. Here’s to a great year!

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