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Spotlight On the Metro

Tuskegee Airmen Global (TAG), APS
Collaborative Planning

Each year comes with its celebrations and stressors; at Tuskegee Airmen Global (TAG), it's no different. This year has been a stretch year for everyone, with teachers being moved to other grade levels and many teaching Fundations, the phonics program, for the first time alongside the new state mathematics standards. When teachers began to express concerns about needing support with instructional delivery, the principal and instructional support team showed up in a big way. The leaders dedicated a Collaborative Planning session that started early and extended into the afternoon to meet and address each grade level's needs. The instructional coaches modeled reading and mathematics lessons by demonstrating student engagement, aggressive monitoring, and higher-order thinking questioning strategies. Each session ended with the principal exposing the teachers to the new weekly observation tool, Teacher look fors and Student look fors. Teachers were asked to participate in a "glow and grow" review using the tool to share a glowing comment with the group regarding the model lesson they observed using the language of the tool. Once everyone had a chance to share, the principal asked the teachers to review the look for sheets and share areas where they were experiencing success and challenges. The successes and challenges were captured for future internal professional learning opportunities. Kudos to Principal Sithole and her team for hearing the teachers' concerns and promptly meeting their needs!

Learn more about TAG

SLAM! Atlanta Academy
Empowering Through Focused Instruction

In an ongoing journey towards educational excellence, Slam Academy, located in Atlanta, continues to position its students for both innovation and empowerment. In recognizing the power of small groups, SLAM has taken an intentional focus on the power of small group instruction to target instructional gaps in learning. Through focused small-group instruction, SLAM tailors its teaching methods to address the unique needs and challenges of each student. By providing personalized attention and targeted support, students are empowered to overcome obstacles and reach their full potential. Through the capacity of dedicated educators who work closely with students in small group settings, identified areas for improvement are addressed through the implementation of effective strategies for intervention. Whether it's strengthening writing skills, building confidence, or fostering critical thinking, SLAM’s goal to equip students with the tools they need to succeed both inside and outside the classroom is having a positive impact. Specifically focusing on writing has truly helped to leverage learning loss. From crafting compelling narratives to mastering the art of persuasion, SLAM’s writing initiatives are designed to inspire creativity, ignite passion, and instill confidence in scholars. The impact of SLAM’s focused small group instruction and emphasis on writing excellence is being evidenced in the breakthrough moments within the classroom to achievements that extend beyond the brick and mortar of the school; such influence is lifting scholars to higher opportunities for their college or career aspirations. Whether it's publishing their first piece of poetry, winning prestigious writing competitions, or pursuing careers in journalism and literature, SLAM students are proof that with the right support and guidance, growth is guaranteed. Our budding young authors are on the “WRITE” track for “Best Selling Authors of the Future.” As SLAM continues its intentionality around growth and with a steadfast commitment to customizing learning experiences, SLAM scholars’ futures shine brightly. Prioritizing focused small group instruction and writing success as core pillars of their approach to ensuring that every student can thrive and succeed are surely tools to punctuate academic power, performance, and prestige. Together, with SLAM, we are shaping the future leaders and thinkers of tomorrow.

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Flat Shoals Elementary School, Dekalb County Schools
High Energy and High Expectations

Mr. Mercede Broadwater is the new principal at Flat Shoals Elementary School in Dekalb County. Since Principal Broadwater’s first day on March 1, he has established himself as a servant leader with “high energy and high expectations”. In his short time as the school leader, his high energy levels have been observed throughout the building. During Principal Broadwater’s first 30 days, he has spent time in classrooms engaging with students, meeting one-on-one with teachers and staff, and fostering relationships with parents during family meet-and-greet meetings. His message of “my door is always open, and I welcome input, feedback, and ideas to work together and create the best possible educational experience for students” has been communicated to all stakeholders. He believes in working collaboratively to positively impact students' lives.

Principal Broadwater's “high energy and high expectations” motto has set the tone for the school's success, which was evident in the school's recent math and literacy night. He credits the teachers and staff for planning critical thinking activities and engaging their school families in learning activities while also having fun. Students and their families enthusiastically participated in various activities at teacher-created centers. His servant leadership platform facilitated an atmosphere of excitement and learning, resonating with teachers, parents, and students alike. Parents were thrilled by the event's success, declaring it one of the most memorable and impactful ones hosted by the school. Additionally, over 25 families attended, with the local public library issuing 12 library cards to promote the message of reading beyond the event. Communities in Schools generously provided over $100 in gift cards and essential support to families in need, ensuring everyone could fully participate in the event. Moreover, the revival of the PTA, with over 15 dedicated parents and teachers signifies a renewed commitment to strengthening the connection between families and the school, enhancing the overall educational experience for students under Principal Broadwater's leadership. Throughout, student achievement remains the driving force behind every decision made at Flat Shoals, ensuring a focus on empowering students to reach their full potential.

Learn more about Flat Shoals Elementary.

Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School, Atlanta Public Schools
Science In Action!

The 5th-grade students at Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School had an opportunity to design, build, test, and troubleshoot circuits. The dynamic 5th graders were given light bulbs, foil, batteries, wires, scotch tape, and recording sheets to create their circuits. Students worked independently and with peers as they explored creating electricity. As the students worked on their designs and understanding of circuitry, the teachers provided students with standards-based feedback to guide their progress toward mastery of the standard.

Mr. Tennyson, IB Instructional Coach, supported the 5th-grade team with their instructional planning, providing the supplies and feedback after observations. Mr. Tennyson and the 5th-grade team enjoyed providing the students with inquiry-based learning opportunities that promoted critical thinking and communication skills. The key takeaway from the hands-on activities is that the simple circuits students created helped students understand and visualize how a circuit provides a closed path for electricity to travel. Atlanta Public Schools and the Jackson Cluster’s future is looking bright with these future engineers and scientists!

Learn more about Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary.

KIPP Woodson Park Academy Instructional Tactical Meetings

At KIPP Woodson Park Academy, one of our main approaches is an enabling structure called an "Instructional Tactical Meeting." This weekly convening is designed to meticulously review and analyze scholar data. This process ensures that both educators and scholars receive the targeted instruction necessary for optimal learning outcomes. Utilizing the most recent academic data, week over week, we've established a system that guides the implementation of precise instructional strategies tailored to meet the needs of our scholars' instructional gaps. During these tactical meetings, a structured protocol empowers secondary leaders and teacher leaders to present accurate current data, identify trends, and construct direct coaching cycles. These cycles are instrumental in supporting team-based strategies that significantly enhance teaching and learning experiences. Each content lead departs the meeting equipped with clear, actionable steps—"what" to focus on and "how" to effectively integrate these insights into core instructional practices. Furthermore, these instructional tactical meetings serve as the driving force behind the thematic focus of common planning meetings, ensuring that all discussions are aligned with the identified instructional needs. The 60-minute weekly meetings are crucial for all building leaders and teachers to grasp the immediate and strategic actions required to propel instruction forward. The aftermath of these meetings sees leaders engaging in instructional rounds or walks to observe and assess the implementation of the agreed-upon action steps. This hands-on follow-up is essential for ensuring that the strategies devised during the meetings are brought to life in the classroom, thereby fostering an environment of continuous improvement and high-impact teaching. Through this meticulously crafted process, we ensure that our instructional practices are always aligned with the evolving academic needs of our scholars, guaranteeing that the right instruction takes place at the right time.
Learn more about KIPP Woodson Park Academy

KIPP WAYS Primary School/KIPP WAYS Academy
Pioneer Pride with Mr. Nate Snyder, Principal

For nearly a decade, Mr. Snyder has served as principal of KIPP WAYS Academy and recently taken over as principal of KIPP WAYS Primary where WAYS is the acronym for West Atlanta Youth Scholars. Mr. Snyder is proud of his team of enthusiastic educators who have dedicated themselves to upholding the culture of "Pioneer Pride". This commitment extends beyond mere words and manifests itself into tangible initiatives aimed at embedding the school's values into the fabric of daily life. At the heart of their mission lie the core values of love, joy, perseverance, teamwork, and excellence, which serve as the guiding principles shaping every aspect of the school's environment. One such example is the dedicated time block on Fridays, where students are encouraged to pursue activities reflective of their unique identities, fostering a sense of belonging and self-expression. They are also committed to fostering strong partnerships with families, recognizing the indispensable role parents and guardians play in the educational journey of their children. Through this collaborative effort, the staff strives to create a cohesive community where every individual feels valued and supported because they know that is the foundation for success. KIPP WAYS remains steadfast in its pursuit of academic excellence, particularly in the realm of early literacy. By prioritizing the science of reading and implementing targeted interventions such as small group instruction, the school is witnessing tangible progress in student growth and development. This strategic investment in foundational literacy underscores their dedication to equipping students with the tools they need to thrive academically to become future leaders, thinkers, and doers!

Learn more about KIPP WAYS Academy 

Continental Colony Elementary  Math Instructional Coaches in Teacher Development at Continental Colony Elementary School

The pivotal role of knowledgeable instructional coaches cannot be understated in guiding instructional support in our schools.  Primarily, literacy and math instructional coaches play a crucial role in supporting teachers, enhancing their instructional practices, and supporting student learning.  At Continental Colony Elementary School, the Literacy and Math coaches have many roles including contributing to planning, professional development, one-on-one coaching, tiered support, and data-driven decision-making.  With shifts in the curriculum and the roll-out of new state standards, their expertise in literacy and math enables them to provide valuable insights, helping their teachers create engaging and targeted instructional plans that cater to diverse learning needs with hands-on applications during PLCs.  During collaborative planning, the Instructional Coaches ensure the scope of their sessions is comprehensive and designed to introduce teachers to innovative pedagogical approaches, share best practices, and address challenges within the realm of literacy and math education.

West Clayton Elementary School
Power Hour at West Clayton Elementary School

All Hands-on Deck! The WCES Instructional Coaches, administrators, special area (EIP, gifted, STEM, and special education) teachers, and paraprofessionals meet weekly for one hour in an arena-style setting with 3rd-5th grade students two days a week. Ms. Dawnia Pieze, Title I Instructional Coach, and Dr. Cynthia Hathaway, the K-2 Literacy Coach, model instructional strategies for teachers, and guide students in engaging activities in reading, writing, and mathematics centered around the novel, Black Brother. The purpose of Power Hour is to provide additional support to all students in grades 3rd-5th using the same instructional resources and strategies. All students are reading, writing, and discussing the same book, which cultivates a shared interest and energy throughout the school. An additional focus of Power Hour is to allow the administrators to connect and support students as well as monitor implementation in the classroom. Power Hour builds capacity for the teaching staff and creates a safe learning community for students. Principal Rochelle Harris says, “We are all rowing in the same direction!” Kudos to West Clayton Elementary teachers and staff!

Mr. Langston Longley, Principal Scott Elementary School, APS

Engineering the reteach structure is a top instructional priority for Scott Elementary Rams! Scott Elementary School is a S.T.E.A. M. site led by Langston Longley, who is committed to providing a challenging learning environment to maximize student academic potential. Principal Longley contributes his academic gains to his collaborative planning protocol; established by the principles of the See It. Name It. Do It. Get Better Faster collaborative planning protocol. The teachers have been involved in intentional professional learning communities centered around data analysis and the use of planning for reteach opportunities. Principal Longley noticed that the teachers were planning reteach opportunities for the whole group as opposed to utilizing student data to construct an appropriate reteach plan. In addition, Principal Longley also noticed that students were not participating in personalized instruction aimed at meeting their needs. The teachers are now planning on purpose by creating an error analysis chart, identifying the instructional gap(s), selecting the appropriate reteach structure based on the student data, creating a gap statement, formulating a reteach plan that addresses not only the misconceptions but personalized small group instruction, and practicing the reteach opportunity. When asked what has contributed to the most recent academic success, Principal Longley stated, “Intentionality and improvement in collaborative planning processes.” The changes in the schools’ collaborative planning protocol have contributed to consistent academic growth on the local benchmark assessments. Based on current benchmark data, Scott Elementary is performing significantly above the performance projection line on the Challenge Index in all subjects! It is safe to say that the school improvement efforts set forth by Principal Longley has the Rams’ academic trajectory flowing positively.

Check out their beautiful school overview video with Mr. Longley and students.

Dr. Crystal January, Principal Harper Archer Elementary, APS

Dr. January and the Trailblazer Student Voice Groups Cheryl Jackson, the Metro RESA School Improvement Specialist has the honor of supporting Dr. Crystal January, at Harper Archer Elementary School in Atlanta. This is Dr. January’s second year leading HAES. It’s evident she cares about not only the students but the adults in the building too. Jackson shared the principal is very visible throughout the school. To keep up with the principal, Jackson said, “I usually wear my tennis shoes to keep up with Dr. January. If she is not observing collaborative planning, she is observing classrooms. In between observing classrooms and collaborative planning, she is meeting with her Trailblazer Student Voice groups and other meetings.” The Trailblazer Student Voice groups consist of grade level students who voice their opinions about everything from personal problems to things that can be improved in the school. Jackson recently attended the fifth-grade meeting and was blown away by the caring attitudes displayed by the young people. As adults, we sometimes forget that students have problems that bother them, and they too want to be heard. During an interview with Dr. January, she shared her philosophy of education, the driving factors that motivate her to get the work done and some of her accomplishments since taking the helm at HAES. According to Dr. January, she believes “all scholars and educators can and must learn. We have a collective responsibility to improve our world by educating our scholars and staff. Together, we must strive to cultivate and maintain the best place to work and learn. In this learning environment, we relentlessly and zealously demonstrate our commitment to empowering all scholars and educators through wellness, excellence, and lifelong learning.” Her motivation stems from her purpose, gratitude and an unconditional love for people and learning. She feels the scholars, educators, families, communities, and the greater world should commit to overcoming barriers, growing, serving, and leaving every place and person better than we found them. Dr. January recognizes that all significant contributions are made through the efforts of her supportive team. She gives accolades to the HAES educators, scholars, their families, community partners, APS district support, RESA support, and GADOE. Each of these parties supports the HAES school village, which consistently focuses on empowerment through learning (Trailblazer Student Voice groups, STEAM access, increased opportunities for scholar competition, scholar-anchored Trailblazer News, staff professional learning, and commitment to providing high-quality Tier 1 instruction evidenced by scholar learning).