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News to Know for the Week of October 5, 2020
Save the Date
- The seventh annual Footprints for the Future race, sponsored by the Sandy Springs Education Force (SSEF), will be held virtually November 1 – 15, 2020. Participants can run 10K, 5K, or 1K, pick their teams and track their progress. Proceeds will help fund SSEF's targeted work supporting the academic success of Sandy Springs public school students, who face an educational gap due to reduced in-person instruction during the pandemic. Registration and payment must be received by October 16th to ensure that each race participant receives a t-shirt. To register for the race, visit https://runsignup.com/ssef. For more information, visit https://www.sandyspringseducationforce.org/roadrace2020/.
- The Cambridge High theater students will present "Occurrence at Sleepy Hollow," a live immersion experience Saturday, October 24, from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. The performance, which revisits Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman story, will take the form of guided walking tours. For more information, visit https://cambridgetheatre.org/.
- As the district moves to Phases 3 & 4, changes are in store for School Nutrition. The drive-thru Grab & Go meal kits provided curbside will now be available at 93 school sites instead of 95. Food remains FREE for all children 18 and under as well as youth with special needs under age 21. All children, regardless of school enrollment or meal eligibility status, can receive a free Grab & Go meal kit. IMPORTANT CHANGE: To accommodate lunch service for face-to-face students, the hours of Curbside Pick-Up will change. Beginning October 14th, Elementary School locations will be open from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Middle and High School locations will be open from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Children do not have to be present to receive a free Grab & Go meal kit, and student ID numbers are not needed either. To see the updated list of school distribution sites, visit https://bit.ly/2HSzrwr.
The mobile meal delivery program, a collaboration between School Nutrition and Transportation, via what is now called Bus Stop Pick-Up, will end on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. Meal kits will be distributed at designated bus stop locations from 10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. As before, families may choose the bus stop OR the distribution sites for receiving meals.
To obtain a meal kit at the Wednesday Grab & Go sites, families must order their meal kits online by Tuesday 11:59 p.m. NonFCS students must also complete the pre-order form to help with order forecasting.
Students attending school face-to-face will receive free meals during their school's scheduled mealtimes. Nutritious favorites will be provided at breakfast and lunch. For more information, visit https://nutrition.fultonschools.org/FoodStop.
- FCS to hold "Fall" In Love with Kindergarten event October 6, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
The Kindergarten Roundup 2.0 event will be held via Microsoft Teams and accessed via phone, computer, or tablet. Participants will learn about Curriculum & Assessments, Specials (Art, Music, PE), Safety Protocols, Enrollment Options, Learning Resources, and more! There will also be giveaways! For more information and to register visit www.fultonschools.org.
- Georgia Pre-K Week is happening October 5 – 9. Voices for Georgia's Children and the Georgia Department of Early Care & Learning (DECAL) are sponsoring the 10th annual event. The event celebrates Georgia's Pre-K, and the more than 1.6 million children educated since the event began. The virtual event will include videos of Georgia lawmakers reading this year's official book "Behind the Little Red Door" by Coy Bowles, as well as other state and community leaders reading Bowles' newest book, "Can You Touch a Color?" For more information on the historic week, visit www.gaprekweek.com.
- Representing an outdoor performance, the Cambridge High drama team, Bridge Ensemble, will be performing "The Occurrence at Sleepy Hollow," Saturday, October 24. Based on Washington Irving's novel "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, the cast will perform as walking tour guides, leading the audience in socially distanced small groups on the school's cross-country trails. Scenes will feature a maximum of three student actors and have strict tour departure times throughout the five-hour performance time. "Like our athletes, our performers need to practice their craft as well," the statement on the theater webpage reads. "We believe this format and approach provides something excited and new for performers to participate in but does so in a socially responsible and creative fashion." For more information, visit www.cambridgetheatre.org.
Cool Kids Doing Cool Things
- FCS high school theater directors and students are finding innovative ways to continue creating and performing despite COVID limitations. The digital age has provided tools for sharing what is usually a live art to people who can't be physically present. Live outdoor performances where audience members and performers can socially distance are also being planned. There are several FCS theater productions in the works, and one has already been produced virtually.
Northview High's Advanced Drama Class recently mounted their annual "Wax Museum" production, though this year's performance aired for virtual viewing. Typically, student actors from Northview's advanced dram class pose as still wax figurines placed around the school who come to life when audience members use an "activation code" to awaken them. The actors present a monologue that they have written from the character's point of view. This year's virtual production is entitled "Women's Wax to Vote" and celebrates the 100th anniversary of the right to vote, won by the women's suffrage movement. They split into technical or performance teams, paying attention to inclusive, representative work.
Additionally, they made the work applicable as an assessment for teachers to include in cross-curricular lesson plans on the platform Quizizz. To view, visit tinyurl.com/nhswaxmuseum. The performance will be available through the end of the fall semester.
- Fulton County Schools' student-teacher program, Go First STEP, is thriving despite the education paradigm shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was revamped more than two years ago by Coordinator Dr. Marsha Francis to introduce increased accountability and incentives for both cooperating and student teachers. Outstanding FCS teachers with a minimum of three years' experience, principal recommendations, and extra training are hand-selected by Francis to supervise as cooperating teachers. She also implemented data analysis of progress metrics and devoted more time to nurture relationships with local colleges and universities. The clinical teaching timeline has been lengthened from one semester to an entire school year, thus the name change from student teachers to "interns." They are carefully paired with First Step interns to support their progress from observation to clinical teaching through a close mentoring process. Francis and cooperating teachers conduct regular evaluations, and data is collected and analyzed. New motivators include coaching for cooperating teachers and professional development for interns and stipends for both. An ultimate mutual benefit is a teaching contract at the end of the year for the intern and a pipeline of potential employees already familiar with the district's system. Much like a corporate internship, this program has created value on numerous levels.
Since the new model began in 2018 with an inaugural cohort of 45 interns, this unique program has grown, and it and Francis have garnered national attention. Of the initial intern class, 36 were hired, making an 86% conversion rate. The second year in 2019-2020, the cohort grew to 69 interns, and then the pandemic hit. Francis wondered how the program would fare with such discouraging changes and uncertainty. Throughout the spring, teachers had to make enormous adjustments. This fall, they have had to transition from universal remote learning to phasing back to face-to-face classes, implementing hybrid teaching methods to instruct students virtually and in person. Those committed to additional cooperative teaching are shouldering massive responsibilities. Thankfully, the momentum is still there; interest among college seniors who are education majors has not waned, and cooperating teachers are still willing to supervise. Francis hails their tenacity and enthusiasm. At the end of the program's second year this past spring, the retention rate, though a bit lower, was still strong at 75%. This year's cohort stands at 83 interns. Some are teaching remotely, and others are doing both.
There appears to be little evidence of such a program around the country, but many districts learn about First STEP and show interest in learning more. "When questioned about the most beneficial part of the internship," reflects Francis, "interns report it's the relationships with their cooperating teachers and early feelings of professionalism as they can take on a larger role in the classroom than their peers in neighboring districts."
Throughout the year, Francis continues to meet with the six university partners: University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Spelman College, University of West Georgia, Clark Atlanta University, and Kennesaw State University, encouraging open dialogue about what's working and what can be improved. Even in the face of a pandemic, First STEP demonstrates the value of education and appeals to aspiring teachers – nicknamed Fulton's Future Teachers. Francis anticipates a teacher conversion rate of 90% next spring.
In Case You Missed It
- Feldwood Elementary Curriculum Support Teacher Allison Bridges connected the school with DPR Construction to assist with outdoor seating for lunch and lessons. Bridges envisioned a safe outdoor space for students and staff and reached out to the partner. "As summer progressed and it became clear that the pandemic was not likely to subside anytime soon, I began thinking about student and teacher safety more than ever before," said Bridges. "I read many scientific, research-based reports describing the benefits of outdoor open spaces for decreasing contagion factors. We have a STEM garden in need of some love after the spring and summer neglect, but very few seating options. I recognized the best start would be picnic tables. They provide a surface for learning or eating, and I thought they might be cost-effective.
Austin Ramsdell, DPR Construction project superintendent, was contacted by Bridges. "My wife used to work at Feldwood, and we became good friends with Allison Bridges," said Ramsdell. "She reached out to me two months ago and said they were looking for ideas to have outdoor seating for classes and breaks. This is the idea we came up with."
DPR signed on to the project in record time. "DPR was incredibly swift coming out to assess the school grounds to determine next steps," said Bridges.
To date, five picnic tables have been assembled and placed in outdoor spaces at Feldwood. "DPR is going to continue the partnership by providing even more tables," Bridges said. "We are hoping to create covered options as well, but for now, we are very excited to be able to have outdoor seating for a dose of sunshine with our lunch or lesson!"
Principal Raquel Harris is excited that the tables will be placed nearFeldwood's STEM garden so that students can engage in STEM-related activities. "I am so happy to see how our community is coming to support us," said Harris. "We want to keep our students and staff healthy, but we also want to provide familiar experiences like being with friends. Our community is helping us to provide those experiences while staying safe."
Feldwood ES Partner DPR Construction Sands Down Picnic Table
Feldwood ES Partner DPR Construction Supervisor