Dear Atlanta Public Schools Colleagues,
Welcome back to Atlanta Public Schools for 2020-2021 in what will no doubt be a different and challenging school year.
As you know, I am Dr. Lisa Herring, the new superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. I have met a few of you in person and many more virtually. We all hope for a time soon when we can all be in person again… together … and I will have the opportunity to meet all of you at our schools and in our communities.
But for now, we must mostly meet virtually. I had a great time meeting nearly 500 new employees at orientation last week. So I can attest that it is possible to create engagement and foster relationships even in a virtual setting. I hope to use my space – as with the welcoming video for you that I’ve linked in the image below – to provide essential updates, address many of your concerns, and attempt to alleviate some of the anxiety we all are feeling because of a pandemic, unrest, isolation, and uncertainty.
In my heart and at the core of my experiences as an educator, I am a school counselor. As a school counselor, I cannot help regularly taking the wellness temperature of people around me, whether they are family or colleagues or students. Being in a virtual space makes it difficult to take that wellness check, but our APS teammates must do all we can to regularly check on each other and provide that additional support.
As we prepare to venture further into this virtual method of teaching and learning, I want to remind each of you to remain focused on our updated mission:
With a caring culture of equity, trust, and collaboration, every student will graduate ready for college, career, and life.
As I say in the video, we are only three weeks away from an unprecedented Day One for Atlanta’s students, families, teachers, and all of us. I want to assure you that “virtual” is not a bad, seven-letter word but a sign of opportunity to take teaching and learning in APS fully into the 21st century.
It won’t necessarily be comfortable or familiar and certainly not usual. But understand this: While we may not be IN our schools for the next nine weeks or more, we all will be AT school.
I have confidence that we will face these challenges, confront our fears, and support our students – each in our own ways – so that our children will see real success even amid trying times. That confidence comes because I truly believe I am working with the best team in public education today, with colleagues #WalkingInTheirGifts and prepared to #DisruptTheFear!
I pledge to work with you in every way possible and to maintain regular communication with you for updates and support. I encourage you to bookmark my blog and follow me on both Twitter and Instagram @DrLisaHerring.
Welcome back and have a great year!
Yours in Service,