Credit: Dr. Dominique Merriweather. Photo: Atlanta Board of Education

Atlanta Public Schools has a lot to celebrate this year. Beginning with 150 years of legacy  followed by a media frenzy around Sutton Middle School’s first African American principal, the youngest principal in APS this academic year, Dr. Dominique Merriweather 

Merriweather has found his place in APS history and he is living a legacy.

Born and raised in College Park, Merriweather grew up surrounded by the representation of Morehouse Men. He had always had his eye on attending Morehouse College. Following his graduation from Westlake High School, Merriweather set out with the hopes of becoming a lawyer. After volunteering at an APS school in the West End, he realized that teaching would be his life path.  

“I had an opening in my schedule, so I decided to take up my Spelman sister on an opportunity to read to elementary school students, Merriweather said of that faithful day. “I just kept coming back, so I transitioned into education. I just wanted to do something I love,” he explained. 

Following his heart, he entered into the field of education through Teach for America. Landing his first job in the Fulton County Public School System at Bear Creek Elementary School as a special needs teacher. Merriweather continued to build relationships with his students and community by attending his student’s sporting and community events. In his second year at Bears Creek he was moved to general education in order to impact more students. 

“My Principal at Bear Creek approached me as I approached my second year of teaching and recommended that I move to general education to impact more students. I negotiated being able to continue to see my special education students in a co-taught clas,” Marrieweather said. 

Before the end of his second year Merriweather was appointed to be the Chair of the English Language Arts Department. Though hesitant because of his age and his only being a second year educatucator, Merriweather accepted. Now, in leadership he engaged and supported his fellow teachers. By the end of year three he made the list of top educators at Bear Creek and was excited about his upcoming fourth year where another promotion would be forthcoming. 

Merriweather would find out on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of his Zakby’s order that he would be entering his fourth year as an Instructional Coach. Although Merriweather really wanted to be in the classroom, he moved into his new position carrying with him the strong skill of relationship building. Within his first year in the new role the literacy numbers at Bear Creek jumped. 

Fastforwarding to his fifth year, Merriweather decided it was time for a new challenge. He wanted to go into School Leadership and applied within the APS system and was given the opportunity to be the Assistant Principal at Sutton Middle School at the age of 26.

“I know many would say that this was fast tracked, but I was ready to move the school, highlight the district’s mission, closing achievement gaps and really walking and talking about the mission, as a lifelong learner.” Merriweather said. 

When Merriweather became the principal of Sutton, it was his desire to reestablish the culture of the school for students, teachers, and parents. He had no idea that obtaining this position would also come with being the youngest principal in APS and the first African-American principal in decades at Sutton. With this new found information Merriweather is even more inspired and motivated to leave a legacy for others to grow and expand on as the principals have done  before him. 

Sutton Middle School is going through a rebranding under Merriweather, with a student population of about 1500. Merriweather wants the community to know about the amazing things taking place at Sutton. 

Sitting in his new office Merriweather challenges his community to have fun and to continue to push him to put his best foot forward everyday. 

“I want Sutton to be a household name,” declared Merriweather.

   Credit: This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Atlanta Voice through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the country.