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News to Know for the Week of August 24, 2020

News to Know


Cool Kids Doing Cool Things

Abbotts Hill Elementary (AHES) has a new place for teachers to debrief and relax called the "Peace Rooms." Created by Chattahoochee High Class of 2020 graduate and former Abbotts Hill student Briahna Stabler, the rooms are designed to be a haven of peace. This is the second AHES project for Stabler who, last year, designed a special room for students to resolve disputes with counselor-facilitated sessions to help teach conflict resolution in a peaceful manner. She considers the teachers and staff her "school moms" (her own mother is AHES Principal Roytunda Stabler) and wanted to give back to the people who impacted her life as a child.

"I knew that teachers would come back with a lot on their plates," said Stabler, now a freshman at Kennesaw State University, "and wanted to do something nice for them." Aware that these are stressful times, she began to create a space for them to consider a stress-free zone right in their building. The new room is large enough to practice social distancing and debuted the first day staff returned to work in early August.


Awards and Honors

  • This past summer, Summit Hill Elementary fourth grade student McKinley Oliver won second place in the third-grade category of Georgia Public Broadcasting's (GPB) PBS KIDS Summer Writing Contest with her story "The Lost princess of Candy Cove." The contest encourages Georgia students in kindergarten through third grade to submit original, illustrated stories for great prizes and a chance to be featured on the GPB website.


  • The advanced orchestras of three Fulton County Schools – Northwestern and Webb Bridge Middle and Milton High - have been invited to perform at the 2021 Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) In-Service Conference which will be held January 28-30 in Athens, GA.

    Each year, 15-20 orchestras apply to perform, but the ensembles chosen will come from only two middle schools, two high schools, and one college.

    This year, three of the four non college level orchestras hail from Fulton County Schools.

    Directors, Evelyn Champion (Northwestern), James Barket (Webb Bridge) and Andrew Cumming (Milton), said in a joint statement “We are very proud of the work of our students in obtaining this honor.”

    Currently the conference is scheduled to be a live event, provided the public health data regarding COVID-19 is favorable. However, if the conference is virtual, the ensembles will still plan to perform.


  • Riverwood International Charter graduates Coleman Alvarez and Jessica Keen as well as Riverwood senior Lucas Daniels are the national winners of the 2020 General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Aviation Design Challenge. The students participated in the challenge over the winter and spring of 2020 working remotely but collaboratively together.

    More than 80 high schools entered the design thinking competition that spanned 35 states, and this was Riverwood’s first year of participation. During the first part of the challenge, teams used a complimentary “Fly to Learn” curriculum to learn the principles of flight and airplane design, developed in alignment with national STEM standards.

    The second part of the competition involved modifying an airplane design and completing a mission in a virtual fly-off using X-Plane software, a comprehensive and powerful flight simulator for personal computers. Judges scored the teams based on performance parameters, a checklist of the steps taken to complete a successful flight and a video summary of what was learned. Riverwood’s design included a substantially increased wingspan, winglets, retractable gear and two additional propeller blades. All entries were due in April and, though teams were given extra time due to the COVID crisis, the Riverwood team was on schedule.

    This award is nationally and internationally recognized. The team was awarded a one-of-a-kind general aviation experience which included a tour of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Brunswick, GA; flying in a Cirrus aircraft; and virtual demonstrations and panels with GAMA member companies.

    “Jessica, Coleman, and Lucas all strived to expand their knowledge base from the day we started, working tirelessly to learn new and challenging material,” said Riverwood Engineering teacher John Friske who led the team. “They embraced the Design Thinking and Engineering Design processes. It was a blast creating everything from a supersonic, prop-driven rocket to a 300-foot wingspan Sportsman that we couldn’t even get to stall. I couldn’t be prouder of them!”

    Jessica is now a freshman at University of Georgia and Coleman is at Kennesaw State University.


  • Langston Hughes High scholar Madison Webb made history when she became the first African - American woman to win the prestigious Harvard International Debate competition. The tournament was held virtually on July 10. Madison's debate partner, Christian Flournoy of The Westminster Schools, was the youngest person to win the tournament.

    From August 2019 until June 2020, Madison and other participants trained for the competition. Over 2000 people apply for the program each year, and only 25 are admitted. "Madison is a great scholar," said Langston Hughes principal Charles Chester. "She is a Student Government Association officer, Dual Enrollment Scholar, and genuinely devoted to all scholars' well-being at Langston Hughes High. We are extremely proud of Madison and the way she represents Panther Pride!"

    During the final round of the competition, the judges declared victory for Madison and Christian with a perfect 5-0 winning ballot. "One of the judges commented that I was one of the greatest high school competitors they'd ever seen," Madison said.

    Brandon Fleming, Harvard's assistant debate coach, founded the Atlanta-based Harvard Diversity Project (HDP) as an educational equity initiative for the university.

    Westlake High’s Raven “Hollywood” Johnson was named the Atlanta Sports Council’s High School Team Athlete of the Year. Johnson will attend the University of South Carolina after graduation. She is currently a senior at Westlake High.


In Case You Missed It

Fulton County School’s Nutrition department launched the fall semester food distribution on Wednesday, Aug. 19, continuing service of nutritious and safe meals to all enrolled FCS students while instruction is virtual.

When Universal Remote Learning was announced, the Nutrition Program knew one of the top priorities included continuing to provide nutritious meals for all FCS students. The department began working on an efficient food distribution plan for families to pick up meals at centrally located school sites throughout the district. The FCS FoodStop drive-thru model, established in March when schools first shut down, is being utilized to distribute weekly meals on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at feeder school sites throughout the district. FoodStop provides an opportunity for families to drive up for Grab & Go meal kits for students. To maximize social distancing, participants order online using bar codes, and drivers stay in their vehicles while food is delivered directly into the car, so transactions remain contactless. Walk-ups are still allowed.  For more information including a listing of feeder schools, visit
Fulton County Schools was recently given a AAA credit rating from Moody’s. Moody’s, along with Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Group, is considered one of the Big Three credit rating agencies.  Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef says, “this rating is exceptional and far surpasses the U. S. median of AA3” (which is the average rating for school districts.  Triple A is three levels above the median.)


Fulton County Schools welcomes new principals:

  • Laurie Woodruff - Sandy Springs Charter Middle  
    With 21 years of experience in education, the last six as Principal of Hembree Springs Elementary, Woodruff is excited to begin the year at Sandy Springs Charter Middle. A former third, fourth, and fifth-grade teacher, Woodruff understands the challenges of classroom teaching and has built a strong administrative foundation from serving in various administrative positions such as Title I Instructional Coach and Curriculum Support teacher at Barnwell Elementary and Assistant Principal at Roswell North Elementary. "I am honored to serve as the Principal of Sandy Springs Charter Middle School," said Woodruff. "I hope to give back by providing opportunities that will shape the success of all students."


  • Dr. Danielle Miller – High Point Elementary  
    As the new Principal of High Point Elementary, Dr. Danielle Miller is a passionate leader who holds four core values at the forefront of her leadership: high levels of learning for all students, excellence in teaching, collaboration and teamwork, and empowering and growing leaders. Miller brings 15 years of experience in education, having taught at the elementary level in both private and public schools. More recently, Miller began teaching at Woodland Elementary and served as a Curriculum Support Teacher and Assistant Principal at Lake Forest Elementary. In her various roles, Dr. Miller has had the opportunity to collaborate with diverse groups to increase achievement and prepare students to be successful global citizens. “I am committed to ensuring that High Point will continue to focus on cultivating knowledgeable, compassionate, inquiring learners who impact our community and achieve academic excellence,” said Miller.


  • A.J. Smith – Hembree Springs Elementary  
    Andrea (“A.J.”) Smith began her teaching career at Elkins Pointe Middle as a special education teacher. She taught across all subjects and grade levels and was voted the 2013-14 Teacher of the Year and eventually became the Special Education Department Chair. By 2015, Smith accepted the Assistant Administrator position at Sweet Apple Elementary. In 2017, she was named Assistant Principal at Hembree Springs Elementary. During her time at Hembree Springs, she has supported students, teachers, and the community and built a reputation for excellence through her leadership style. “All students can achieve at high levels in any environment,” she said after being named principal. “At this time, we are charged with reimagining education, and I am up for the challenge.”


  • Ashley Agans - Cambridge High School 
    Ashley began her teaching career at Northview High in the social studies department in 2006, after which she became the department chair and then 504 Chair at Northview High School. Eventually, Agans joined Autrey Mill Middle as Assistant Principal.  After three years, she became Assistant Principal for Johns Creek High, where she has served the past three years.  Agans is passionate about promoting a positive high school experience. This fall, Agans was promoted to Principal of Cambridge High and said, “I am excited to join the leadership team to continue to support the mission of educating, challenging and inspiring all students to reach their full potential and achieve college and career readiness.”


  • Dr. Darren Clay – Conley Hill Elementary 
    Dr. Darren Clay is a fourth-generation educator.  He joins Fulton County Schools as the principal of Conley Hills Elementary, after working at the Georgia Department of Education as Transformation Leadership Coordinator. He developed and facilitated professional learning activities for school and district leaders, led the design of climate and culture activities, and provided direct coaching to school leaders. Dr. Clay’s leadership was pivotal in 85 percent of schools improving their Climate & Culture rating and 75 per cent of schools improving their CCRPI scores. “I have a compelling drive to help others achieve,” said Dr. Clay.


  • Dr. Ashley Rose – Renaissance Elementary  
    Dr. Ashley Rose brings diverse and expansive educational experiences to Renaissance Elementary. Her teaching and leadership experiences include working in a variety of school settings serving diverse populations. Dr. Rose began her teaching career in Fulton County Schools, working at Tri-Cities High. Following her teaching at Tri-Cities, Dr. Rose transferred to Woodland Middle School, where she served as an Administrative Assistant. 
    In 2016, Dr. Rose was named Assistant Principal of Sutton Middle in the Atlanta Public Schools system. She brings leadership that will focus on a positive learning environment where teachers and students are valued as the new principal. “I’m passionate about school culture and school connectedness,” said Dr. Rose.