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Honoring Our Legacy, Building Our Future

By Erroll B. Davis Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent | 8/23/2013, 6 a.m.
Atlanta Public Schools

This year, Tamika Ball was a 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year finalist. She teaches math with passion and purpose at D.M. Therrell Educational Complex

Another example of an excellent teacher can be found at Price Middle School. The school is home to a French foreign language program that’s becoming a model program in large part because of the efforts of a relentless teacher – Madame Shamita Johnson. This year, the classroom experience culminated with an unprecedented trip by a small group of students to Nancy, France. The undertaking was made possible by a coalition of legacy builders here and abroad – including diplomats at the French Embassy in New York; the honorable mayor of Nancy, France; Price Middle School’s sister school in France; the French government; and the offices of the French Consulate in Atlanta.

When teachers are committed, when teachers are supported and when they are trained, magic can happen for our students inside and outside the classroom.

State of Atlanta’s Schools: Moving in the Right Direction

I hope it is clear to everyone that the community of believers, whom Superintendent Dr. Alonzo Crim envisioned more than 30 years ago, is still alive and well in Atlanta today.

It’s alive in the membership of the Atlanta Partners for Education. It’s alive in the philanthropic groups of Atlanta, including the Atlanta Families, the Zeist Foundation and others. It’s alive in the ranks of our support staff, teachers, assistant principals, principals and central office professionals. It’s alive on the Atlanta Board of Education.

I would be remiss if I did not say a word about our new school safety partnership with Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Police Department. This year, we are phasing in 73 officers, which will allow for at least one full-time school resource officer in every middle and high school. These officers will build positive relationships that will benefit both students and families. Also starting this year, we will be interconnecting our video system with that of the police department.

In closing, the state of Atlanta Public Schools is simply this: We’re on the move and moving in the right direction toward “Honoring Our Legacy, Building Our Future.”

Our teachers and leaders are receiving high-quality professional development and support so that they can work more collaboratively. Our students are benefitting from more rigorous standards and instruction. Our systems are being re-engineered. Our dropout rate is declining. And our most recent class of graduates – the class of 2013 – earned more than $100 million in college scholarship offers!

Indeed, we are on the move and moving in the right direction.

We will move ahead on our path if our collective efforts ensure that the education system in Atlanta is about children, not power, prestige or politics. It’s about opportunity, not privilege. It’s about our future, not just our history. It’s about showing, and not just saying, that every child can learn.

Admittedly, Atlanta Public Schools has been through some difficult times. Our children have gone through much more. Yet they continue to succeed, and so will we as a system.

Thank you for your support over the years.

This op-ed is an abridged version of Erroll Davis’ state-of-the-schools address. For the complete address, please visit http://www.apsk12.org/media/SOS2013_Portal/SOS_PORTAL2013.html