Stakeholders Unite At “Support The Good” Event
BY Carrie L. Williams Contributing Writer | 6/28/2013, 2:19 p.m.
ATLANTA -- In a strong demonstration of unity and encouragement for metro Atlanta’s “good” teachers, administrators, support teams and parents, over a hundred stakeholders recently met at First Iconium Baptist Church in East Atlanta for a first of its kind “praise and prayer” session.
Organizers were successful in getting a historic number of Superintendents (four) from major metro Atlanta school systems to attend and speak. The Superintendent speakers were: Robert Avossa (Fulton County), Errol B. Davis, Jr. (City of Atlanta), Luvenia W. Jackson (Clayton County), and Michael L. Thurmond (DeKalb County).
Each Superintendent spoke about the superlative achievements their school systems had accomplished during the year.
“Support the Good” event organizers were clear about their intention for the gathering.
“We’re here to say ‘thank you’ to people who get rare (thanks),” proclaimed opening speaker Dr. Joyce J. Dorsey, President and CEO of the Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority. The evening’s program proceeded to delight attendees with the “thank-you” offerings .
The “good” were treated to special musical performances by the gospel choir and musicians of First Iconium Baptist that led to standing ovations, along with poet Hank Stewart’s ever-popular rendition of “It”. Stewart slowed and lingered over the poem’s phrase, ‘It gives more than it takes’.”
Several audience members were randomly selected to extemporaneously describe their favorite teacher and the impact on their lives, bringing some to tears. The youth performances, including a children’s choir, dance group, and the “Future Voters of America” invoked clapping, waving of hands -- and more standing ovations.
Rev. Timothy McDonald, Sr. Pastor of First Iconium and Past President of Concerned Black Clergy, lead the event, introducing each segment of the program, and acting in the capacity of “head encourager”. Organizations that had been a part of the “Support the Good” Committee were in attendance, along with education board members, blue t-shirted representatives from teacher’s associations and unions, urban and business league members, civil and social rights activists, and members from diverse communities.
When asked how the idea came into being, one of the event’s key organizers, Atlanta leader Aaron Turpeau, explained to The Voice:
“An effort was started two years ago in Centennial Park, as a rally against all the negative media on The Atlanta Public School scandal. It was not intended to be a regular affair, but at times, you feel that enough is enough, and a group of Atlanta community organization leaders just want to speak out for the good. We are not taking a position on any investigation, legal issue or political issue. We are just publicly supporting good educators.”
Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, retired Sr. Pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church, and highly respected education advocate, closed out the event with the Community Prayer. Before leading the emotionally uplifted crowd, Durley implored, “Can I ask you all a question? Where are Channel 2, Channel 5, and Channel 11 tonight? Whenever we are doing good, the media doesn’t want to come out.”
Yet, attendee testimonials were overwhelmingly positive about the “good” that had been accomplished by the event, regardless of network coverage. After two hours of “praise and prayer”, Shawnna Hayes-Tavares -- a parent, nonprofit leader and APS Board Candidate -- offered the following words to describe her experience:
“I am full -- of love, respect, joy, and hope for the future of our children, our schools, and our nation -- I am so full!”