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News to Know for the Week of  November 2 , 2020


Save the Date 

  • November 3 is Election Day. All Fulton County Schools (FCS) will be closed.


  • FCS will hold a “Celebration Conference” November 3, 8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. to celebrate the successes of FCS teachers, leaders, and classified staff. FCS Rising Stars will share best practices in a Microsoft Teams live event. The six areas of successes shared are self-care; building and maintaining relationships and routines; planning effective synchronous, asynchronous, and simultaneous instruction using Standard Mastery Framework; student engagement; feedback, assessment, and grading; and supporting students with disabilities and English Language Learners. More than 300 FCS employees have been nominated by their peers to be saluted for their impact in one of the six areas.


Cool Kids Doing Cool Things 

  • Elkins Pointe Middle School (EPMS) Interact Club is partnering with the Rotary Club of Roswell to "Adopt A Platoon" - supporting troops overseas. Interact is a service-focused organization and a student branch of Rotary. EPMS club teacher chair and eighth grade social studies teacher Isabella Alfara invited her brother, Marine Sgt. Carlos Gonzalez to a Microsoft TEAMS meeting with the club to understand what life is like for servicemen and women. Students learned the importance of supporting troops overseas and shared how much it means to receive letters and items from home. Items collected include batteries, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, word searches, face masks, hand sanitizer, fuzzy socks, lotion, snacks, candy, and a personal favorite of Sgt. Gonzalez: beef jerky. Though Sgt. Gonzalez is currently stateside, the Interact Club, along with Rotary of Roswell, will be sending items to three naval carriers, USS Nimitz, Ronald Reagan, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, across the globe. Rotary of Roswell will pick up the club's items on November 5 and send them to the naval ships.


  • In response to the heightened stress placed on healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients in the summer, a group of Riverwood International Charter School 11th grade students (now seniors) created Food for the Frontlines, a project to provide fresh, hot, restaurant food to healthcare workers. The five students, all enrolled in Riverwood's International Baccalaureate (IB) program, were searching for a way to show their gratitude to frontline workers at hospitals in Athens and Atlanta. The group partnered with Athens restaurant Jinya, funding the meals' cost by creating custom-embroidered T-shirts for sale and requesting donations.

    "Our goal is to provide ramen and rice meals to medical workers treating COVID-19 patients," notes Food for the Frontlines founder Ashley Wang. "I hope these meals show our gratefulness for them and that the meals bring a little more happiness into their day."

    Assisting Ashley are Lily Strouman, Aahil Lalani, Murphy Barja, and Bergen Thielen, who developed a business plan, each taking a critical role to support the project. Ashley and Lily serve as T-shirt creators and designers. Aahil is the financial officer who tracks donations and manages expenses, while Murphy and Bergen handle packaging and delivery of the T-shirts. They have developed a website where they offer 11 different T-shirt designs. All planning meetings have been virtual due to social-distancing requirements.

    Students in Riverwood's IB program complete Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) programs as part of the IB course curriculum. Ashley is documenting Food for the Frontlines as her project. "We don't think we are doing something amazing or out of the ordinary," Ashley said. "It should be standard to say 'thank you' to those who show courage by going to work every day and risking not only their lives but their families' lives as well. Anyone of any age can be making a difference in their community." 

    The group donated 190 ramen, rice, and BBQ meals to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and St. Mary's Hospitals in Athens, and Northside Hospital in Atlanta. They have sold 59 T-shirts and received donations from friends and family. Their collective statement: "We hope that once we have gotten through COVID, everyone will continue to support our hardworking frontline workers!"

    The group is brainstorming new ideas to implement in the future. For more information on this initiative, please visit and on Instagram @food4thefrontlines.


  • When FCS received numerous face shields donated by Georgia Tech affiliate Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), they realized that the unassembled shields would need to be put together quickly for staff who wanted extra protection. Fortunately, community relations did not have to look far before finding willing helpers in new FCS community partner Lionheart WORKS. Lionheart WORKS is a vocational training program for young adults ages 18 and up with autism and other neurodevelopmental differences. Lionheart Works provided workforce training participants who immediately tackled the project and assembled around 200 masks. Many participants are FCS graduates of the district’s Community-Based Instruction (CBI). This is not the first time the life center young adults have given back to the community. Participants have also refurbished much-needed computers and donated them to FCS schools and homeless youth through nonprofit StandUp for Kids and individuals recovering from addiction in Anchor in Recovery and many more organizations and people. This year, they made 25 decorative wooden box centerpieces for the Meals by Grace fundraiser. “Fulton County Schools is a special community partner to Lionhearts WORKS,” said Lionheart WORKS Director Heather Wagner. “We are grateful for the support we can give back and the support Fulton gives to all children, youth, and young adults with autism and other neuro differences.” Since becoming an FCS official partner, the life center participants are looking forward to their next collaborative project with the district.


Awards and Honors

  • Two Centennial High choirs, Bella Voce and Cavatina as a combined choir, have been selected to be part of the World Premiere of Grammy-nominated, Denver-based composer and conductor Chris Maunu's new work "Remember." Set to the famous Victorian poem by Christina Rosetti. Led by Centennial Choral Director Chelsea Burney, the choir will join 36 other ensembles from around the U.S. selected from a pool of 200 high school choirs who applied to sing in the consortium premiere ensemble. Tentatively, the choirs plan to record in December.

    The honor of being selected gives the choirs access to the music, performance, and recording rights and enables them to work closely with the composer in the piece's preparation. Bella Voce is Centennial's auditioned Mastery Women's Chorus class, and Cavatina is the Intermediate Women's Chorus class. Both are comprised of ninth through 12th-grade students.


  • Manning Oaks Elementary School (MOES) was recently awarded a $1,000 grant by the Pi Beta Phi Alpharetta Alumnae Club for classroom books from the First Book Grant Initiative. In September, MOES was contacted by the club's president informing them of the grant offer, and the school applied. The school was notified of the award in mid-October, and since then, the school has purchased 300 books and is stocking classrooms with brand new books.


  • Fulton County Schools' own Dr. Chris Matthews, Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services, received the Award for Seeding Improvement in Educational Policy and Practice by the University of California Davis (UC Davis) Social Justice Awards Committee. "His outstanding service record in FCS shaped their final decision," said Dr. Vajra Watson, Director of the Office of Research and Policy for Equity. Winners of this award are considered by UC Davis and colleagues in their community to be "leaders among leaders and beacon of justice." Dr. Matthews was presented with this award at the 10th Annual UC Davis Equity Summit in March of 2020, with approximately 250 people in attendance. The event brings together individuals from a range of disciplines and professionals, all of whom are committed to social change. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Matthews briefly spoke about his program, shared his advice, and his vision for the future of education.


  • Each year, the Georgia Art Education Association (GAEA), in partnership with the National Art Education Association, presents outstanding art educators awards for their work in the field. The program recognizes excellence in Georgia art educators, and the awards focus professional attention on quality art education and exemplary art educators.
    • Several art educators in Fulton have received state awards in the following categories:
    • Georgia Art Educator of the Year: Drew Brown, Milton High
    • Georgia Administration/Supervision Art Educator of the Year:  Betsy Eppes, Visual and Performing Art Coordinator
    • Croy West Special Needs Art Educator of the Year: Donna Cohen, Adaptive Art Teacher, Banneker High
    • Outstanding Jr. National Art Honor Society Sponsor (NJAHS): Amanda Marbry, Holcomb Bridge Middle
    • Outstanding National Art Honor Society Sponsor (NAHS): Shakirah Bryant, Banneker High


In Case You Missed It

  • Autrey Mills Middle counselor Joshua Williams and his 5-year-old son Wade wrote a book, "Wade Through the Pandemic." The book captures the challenges of growing up right now and is designed to help uplift other children.  Specifically, the book outlines the ups and downs of dealing with COVID-19. Wade writes about his grandmother's successful recovery from COVID and the birth of a new baby sister. The book even includes the reward Wade receives for wearing his mask, ice cream.


  • On October 20, FCS became the grateful recipient of community partner North Point Community Church's generosity to the tune of 16,000 books donated to district students in need of personal book collections. It was part of the church's Be Rich campaign, an annual initiative to engage congregants in meaningful ways that help the broader community, captured in their tag line "Give, Serve, Love." This year's campaign volunteers have stayed busy with constant needs, yet they continue to brainstorm and mobilize for new projects. The book drive evolved out of a conversation on student needs between FCS's Executive Director of the Office of Student Supports Chelsea Montgomery, Coordinator of Middle and High School Counseling Shamona Harrell, and North Point's Ameera Joe, director of their community relations ministry called Intersect. Be Rich is proactive in seeking information on meeting an organizations' needs rather than guessing solutions before designing a donation or funding campaign.

    Montgomery and Harrell shared critical information uncovered during FCS' universal remote learning, that some students did not have books or resources at home to complete reading time. Knowing that literacy is one of Fulton's prime goals, Joe launched the book drive, making it part of the Be Rich campaign. The North Point community collected new and gently used books, using a booklist created by Montgomery and Harrell. The student ministry kicked off the drive and collected 2,500 books, followed by another 2,500 books from the congregation. Not stopping there, they opened the initiative to their community. Several of their Community Supporters joined in, including Chick-fil-A restaurants, which promoted the drive with stickers on their food bags. Also, Andy's Frozen Custard and Clean Juice extended the effort to their clients and collected a total of 11,000 books. They created a wish list on Amazon to allow participants who could not physically drop books off at the church order online and have them delivered. "It made me so happy coming to work each day with a stack of Amazon packages as well as full bins of books from our community," said Joe.

    She even got to drive the van filled to the brim with books into the FCS Administration Center parking lot to the cheers of many FCS employees. They officially presented the donation and a $10,000 check for Student Support Services and a 5,000 check for emergency mental health needs. Both Montgomery and Dr. Chris Matthews, Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services, were on hand to receive the checks before the van journeyed on to the FCS warehouse in Fairburn, where the books will be distributed to students.