APS holds exceptional talent within our ranks while at the same time, we’ve fostered strong relationships with many outstanding organizations that provide us with a pool of committed volunteers. The strength of this union was on full display at our first Annual Partnership Summit last week.
Hosted by our dear friends, Trees Atlanta, this event allowed me and our team to engage those who have volunteered to participate in summer learning and enrichment programs. Volunteers got to collaborate and give us feedback, as well as learn how they can “plug-in” this summer to make a difference in the lives of our scholars.
I had the joy of introducing Joi… that is, our newly appointed executive director of the Office of Partnerships and Development, Mrs. Joi Hunter. She is a proud product of APS and brings an exceptional background in fundraising and grants management to the position. She also works closely with volunteers from both the public and private sectors.
My other joy was getting to meet and speak at length with our volunteers, staff, and attending board members in a face-to-face setting celebrating partnerships.
What we thought was going to be two weeks of separation turned out to be almost two years to the day. And while we have faced previously unknown challenges together, APS emerged on this side of the pandemic even stronger.
The pandemic blanketed the first two years of my administration. While navigating public health strategy and mitigation measures, APS did not have the option to let COVID interfere with the work at-hand. By pressing forward on all fronts, we were able to rack-up an impressive list of accomplishments, including:
• Holding multiple town halls and community conversations to connect with thousands of APS stakeholders on various key topics
• Creating the Department of Innovation, Improvement and Redesign to identify and scale best-practice initiatives across clusters and schools
• Founding the Center for Equity and Social Justice, an initiative to remedy past injustices and eliminate barriers in education
• And, moving to a model of student outcomes focused governance to tie performance at all levels to student success
Among our list of accomplishments in the era of COVID, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to once again raise the APS5. This five-point program serves as our blueprint for student success. We are placing our collective focus into five measurable methods to drastically improve outcomes for our students:
• Data – making evidence-based decisions
• Curriculum & Instruction – choosing the very best teaching tools and practices
• Whole Child & Intervention – building connections, confidence, and wellness
• Personalized Learning – growing every student to their full potential
• Signature Programming – boosting the quality and consistency of each cluster program
I cannot end this blog post without giving special recognition to our gracious hosts, Trees Atlanta. They have a marvelous facility. (www.treesatlanta.org)
Green space provides such a boost for our mental and physical health and our quality of life. Last week as I prepared for our partnership summit, I learned the five most popular trees to plant in Atlanta are Crepe Myrtles, Eastern Redbuds, Tulip trees, Bald Cypress, and Northern Red Oaks.
I drew a parallel with the APS5 – just as we plant and nurture the trees which take root, grow, and improve our lives, Atlanta Public Schools is focusing on “the five most” important methods for planting and nurturing the growth of our students. If you are interested in being a part of that growth, I invite you to visit our partnerships page to learn more and spread the word across your networks!