Dr. Hall delivers seventh-annual State of the Schools address

Dr. Hall (right) interviewed by IBM's Ann Cramer

UPDATE: For complete coverage of the State of the Schools address, click here. Check out the video here. Check out the photo gallery here.

APS Superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall insisted on accountability and provided a blueprint for Atlanta Public Schools to move beyond the CRCT investigation report during her seventh-annual State of the Schools address Tuesday morning at the Carter Center. Dr. Hall delivered her address before Atlanta Board of Education members, APS staffers, community and business leaders, and partners.

“In school you’re taught a lesson and then you’re given a test. In life you’re given a test that teaches lessons,” Dr. Hall said, quoting author Tom Bodett.

Lessons learned from the CRCT investigation will include a comprehensive plan to reinforce test-taking and handle security, internal audits, enhanced investigation and discipline, accelerated academic support, and additional ethics training among APS staff. (Read the complete action plan.) Dr. Hall also insisted on transparency and communication with the community through the district website, which features a continually updated section on the CRCT.

“The transformation at Atlanta Public Schools is working,” Dr. Hall said, and quoted Dr. Martin Luther King when she added, “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope. … Teaching is personal. The children must come first.” Dr. Hall proceeded to take questions from the audience, fielded by Ann Cramer, director of Americas Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs for IBM Corporation. Dr. Hall cited the myriad ways community and business partners give their time and money to help support the district’s education reform initiatives, including Atlanta Partners for Education and the Atlanta Education Fund.

Metro Atlanta Chamber President Sam A. Williams, a proud APS parent who lives near Springdale Park Elementary, welcomed guests during the event. Also providing greetings were Sandy Miller, senior vice present of finance and CFO for Gas South, and Atlanta Board of Education Chair LaChandra Butler Burks. Three APS 21st Century Atlanta Scholars — Jared Vallair, Brittany M. Williams and Fatouma Kunjo — introduced Dr. Hall.

Vallair will attend Tufts University this fall, while Williams is a junior at Hampshire College, and Kunjo recently graduated from Bowdoin College and will commence graduate work this fall at Stanford University.

Grove Park Elementary Principal Caitlin Sims was inspired by Dr. Hall’s speech as well as the community and business partners who showed up in support of APS. She noted how much Grove Parks’ partners —  including L.E.A.D. Inc., Salem Bible Church and Arby’s — make a difference in her students’ lives. Those partnerships have translated to everything from 2,000 new books to a popcorn popper that’s used for assemblies to reward students. (Check out a previous post on L.E.A.D. Inc. here.) As a product of APS with children in APS elementary and middle schools, Sims is especially invested in student success.

“I can send my children school knowing what they’re getting because my kids are getting the same thing,” Sims noted. As for Dr. Hall’s speech, Sims added: “I felt a lot of affirmation. I didn’t need reassurance.”

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