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News to Know for the Week of December 16-20, 2019

Special Observances for December

  • All Fulton County Schools and offices will be closed for Winter Break December 23 - January 2. Offices will re-open on Jan 3. Teachers report for a workday on January 3. Students return on January 6, 2020.


  • Counseling, Psychological, and Social Work Services (CPSW) Campaign, "It's OK!" It's Ok not to feel Ok. It's Ok to have bad days. It's Ok to ask how someone is feeling. It's Ok to ask for help. This time of year can be tough for our kids. The holidays, grief, family challenges, end of the semester grades, college acceptances, final exams, etc. all bring extra stress and pressure. This year CPSW decided to add a "December boost" campaign. Schools have received stickers, cards, posters, T-shirts, lists of ideas, and lesson plans to roll out this campaign. We know that adults will benefit from this campaign as well. Spread the word throughout December using the hashtag #OKFCS!



Save the Date

  • Evoline C. West Elementary School presents MIST Night December 16, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. The "STEM with a Twist" event will feature a STEM Magician, Student STEM project-based learning projects, Escape Rooms, Special STEM Student Showcase, STEM Gem Wax Museum, Drones, Robots, Virtual Reality Experiences, Healthy Food Tasting, and more! Evoline C. West is the first south school to be STEM-certified by the state of Georgia. For more information on MIST Night contact STEM Coordinator Natasha T. Smith at



Awards and Honors

  • Fulton County Schools has been recognized with the "Leading Edge Award" for the advances made through its charter district status, particularly in the areas of governance, leadership and accountability. Presented by the Georgia School Board Association (GBSA), the award recognizes innovative and out-of-the-box practices by governance teams and school districts. It also highlights school districts that are leading the way in ensuring students are competitive in an ever-changing global market.

    Fulton's school board members and Superintendent Mike Looney were formally recognized for the award at GSBA's annual conference in December.

    "Receiving the Leading Edge Award is a major boon for Fulton County Schools and especially our Board of Education," said Dr. Looney. "Our School Board had the foresight to think about how the charter district's flexibility could help our schools find even greater levels of success. Education is not one-size-fits-all, and our school communities are very diverse throughout Fulton County, so it is important to support flexibility wherever we can."

    To be considered for the Leading Edge Award, applicants were instructed to select one of eight key impact areas of the Georgia Vision Project, a campaign that promotes public education and encourages engagement about educational issues. The categories were: Early Learning and Student Success; Teaching and Learning; Teaching and Learning Resources; Human and Organizational Capital; Governance, Leadership and Accountability; Culture, Climate and Organizational Efficacy; Financial Resources; and Communications and Messaging. Fulton County Schools submitted its application under the Governance, Leadership and Accountability category.



  • The Georgia Department of Education awarded six grants to Fulton Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that demonstrated a need for essential industry standard equipment and a strong partnership with local businesses. The total value of the grants awarded is $117,041. The schools that will receive this grant for their CTE departments are as follows:

    Alpharetta HS: Audio-Video, Technology and Film - $26,505
    Cogburn Woods ES: Agriculture - $8000
    Elkins Pointe MS: Construction - $14,400
    Johns Creek HS:  Audio-Video, Technology and Film - $35,811
    Roswell HS: Cosmetology - $7,125
    Roswell HS: Cosmetology - $25,200

    Additionally, CTE received a CS4GA grant award valued at $25,000 from the Georgia Department of Education to build instructional capacity to deliver computer science courses and broaden participation rates. The core component of this grant is to provide professional learning for Computer Science teachers to help increase Computer Science in middle and high schools. As part of the grant, Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) will deliver five days of computer science training to middle and high school teachers, and the district will give stipends to teachers who complete Harvard University’s Introduction to Computer Science online course.  The 2019 Legislative Bill SB 108 requires middle and high schools to have access to computer science courses by the 2024-2025 school year. The CS4GA grant award will help the district stay on track to comply with this legislation.


  • Holcomb Bridge Middle School received confirmation that they are now an official Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch. The Lighthouse designation is given by the National Forum and recognizes schools for academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational effectiveness.

    Holcomb Bridge’s application, artifacts of their work, and the site visit from the organization demonstrated the school’s commitment to academic and social excellence for their students. This is their second redesignation since the original award in 2013. Their official report will arrive in January.



  • The Fulton County Schools’ department of Communications partners with the School Social Work department annually to provide gifts for the holidays for Fulton students. This needs-based initiative, called Giving or Angel Tree, offers employees the opportunity to support students at schools throughout the district. Social workers identify students who are in need and provide wish lists which are shared with staff via our Angel Tree.

    In addition to Administrative Center and satellite office employees, there are corporate sponsors whose employees also participate, including Alliant Employee Benefits, Spencer Stuart Atlanta, Fiserv and Dell Computers. Additionally, FCS’s Transportation Department, including bus drivers and staff, adopt two schools and pack a bus full of surprises for students at both locations.  Through the generosity of all these employees, FCS provides more than 275 students with gifts for the holidays.



Cool Kids (and Schools and Staff) Doing Cool Things 

  • Twenty seniors from the Fulton County Schools (FCS) College and Career Academy will receive paid internships at the Georgia Aquarium as part of the Navigate Program. “The co-hort of students have gone through extensive training,” said Lorissa Edwards, College and Career Academy Coordinator. “We were selected to be the pilot for the program through United Way of Greater Atlanta.”

    The largest aquarium in the world, the Georgia Aquarium is home to hundreds of species and thousands of animals. With creative menu options from Wolfgang Puck Catering, the venue is a dramatic event space.

    “We hope the program will arm youth with industry specific culinary skills and certifications that will qualify them for above entry level positions in the workforce,” said Michele Jacobs, United Way of Atlanta.

    In December, students enrolled in the culinary arts program completed the Compass Group application process. The internship will take place January – April 20 and will include a competition in February. Participants in the program are: Jakobe Williams, Westlake; Contreis Cunningham, Creekside; Aaliyah Dorsey, Creekside; Faith Franklin, Tri-Cities; Tarius Grubbs, Westlake; Rodney Johnson, Tri-Cities; Tolicia Kendrick, Tri-Cities; Tykia Revere, Banneker; Netannea Williams, Banneker; Kymara Jennings, Westlake; La’Shaunty Branner, Creekside; Isatu Diallo, Creekside; E’niya Folk, Langston Hughes, Aaliyah Kidd, Langston Hughes; Kelis Broadnax, Creekside; Tiago Bowins, Banneker; Ameriana Williams, Tri-Cities; Chloe Bridges, Langston Hughes and Teirra Reid, Langston Hughes High Schools.


  • A little pet therapy goes a long way at Cambridge High School. Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization brought in several emotional support dogs to help students de-stress during the week before final exams. This is the fourth year Cambridge has invited the animals, and the students are now accustomed to their visit. The dogs usually arrive during the lunch periods in the Student Center (previously known as the media center). It is a win-win for both the organization and the school as the socialization helps the dogs in training acclimate to public places and the students’ spirits are lifted.


  • North Springs High School hosted the county Special Olympics Bocce tournament on Friday, Dec. 6. Girl’s Track Coach Patty Carroll organized the program with the aid of the football, track, and basketball players who lent their volunteer support with the Special Olympic students. Ms. Carroll collaborated with the transportation department to make sure student drop-off and pick-up went smoothly.


  • Last week, FCS employee Ladyjoy Love, director of utilities services at the Administrative Center, presented a $1,000 Big Check to the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (GCADV) after several months of fundraising and awareness efforts. During the month of October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Ms. Love hosted weekly training seminars for interested staff at the Admin Center. The training featured experts such as Christy Showalter, the Associate Director of GCADV, representatives from FCS police and SWAT, Sandy Springs detectives, officers, and victim advocate officers. Staff wore purple on Thursdays to shine the light on domestic violence issues.  


  • The “Raider Depot” is now open! Riverwood International Charter School has established a new food pantry to help meet the needs of members of the student body. Located in the counseling office, students can find many food and personal care item for deserving students and their families. Riverwood ESOL teacher Mary Schmidt had the vision which is now coming to fruition. Ms. Schmidt also recently lead the way with a Bingo night for teachers and students to provide another means for students to feel more connected to the larger Riverwood community.  


  • This fall, FCS students in kindergarten, first, and third grade got to experience phonics lessons through role-playing, silly songs, puppetry, and a healthy dose of humor from entertaining characters like Phineas McPhonic, Mama Koku, and Ms. Noodlehead. The creative staff at FCS’ north and south Teaching Museums designed the program that features live arts performances by professional teaching artists to support the Phonics Pathway (PP). The program is a collaboration between the Museum and the Professional Learning, Humanities, and Title I Departments and is offered free to schools with teachers who have complete the PP training as recently as spring of 2019. In these performances, students go on wild interactive adventures with classes like “Dust Bunnies Have a Party”, “My Mouth is Exploding”, “Rhythm, Rhyme, Rodeo” and more. Concepts like word clusters, blending sounds, word roots, compound words, phonemes, onomatopoeia, rhyming and alliteration are tackled through the hands-on art performances. Different scenarios encourage imagination and dramatization with funny mouth puppets, costumes and props, books and percussion instruments.

    These professional teaching artists attended training to directly experience what the classroom teachers were learning and the pathway’s strategies, and then created arts performance proposals. Their submissions were vetted for standards compliance and grade-level appropriateness. Once approved, the performance piloted in a school with a teacher who was engaged with the PP program. Five programs were approved and presented in schools this year, and each typically serves about 50-60 students per one-hour performance. Teachers sit in on the performances and are provided with follow-up study guides and play lists on Safari Montage, a platform for sharing videos and education materials. Funding for the performances was provided, in part, by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.



In Case You Missed It 


  • Dr. Anthony Newbold was named principal of the new South Fulton STEM School. The veteran educator is currently principal of Centennial High School in Roswell and was previously principal of Bear Creek Middle School. Dr. Newbold will assume his new role in January and will focus on preparing the STEM school, staff, and prospective students for its August 2021 opening.

    One of Dr. Newbold’s top resume credits is his forward-thinking work with educational technology and his partnership with Microsoft. Bear Creek Middle School, where he served as principal before moving to Centennial, received a Microsoft Showcase School designation under his leadership. Internationally, less than 500 schools have received that honor. He also is a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE), a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE), a Surface Expert, and has been a featured speaker for multiple Microsoft events.

    In the coming months, Dr. Newbold will hold a public “Meet and greet” and work with committees to select the school’s official name and determine its academic programming. He will recruit corporate, community, and higher education partners to provide support to the school as well as begin hiring teacher leaders and other key positions and administrative staff. This spring, recruitment will begin for the school’s inaugural student body, with the application window opening next fall. 



For your information


  • Applications are available beginning Jan. 1 for parents who wish to apply for a 2020-21 hardship transfer or to renew a current hardship to another Fulton elementary, middle or high school. Parents will use an online form, available through the school system’s web site, to enter and submit their information. Hard copy applications are not required this year, with the exception of medical transfers which require pertinent medical provider’s signatures and documentation. The deadline for submitting a transfer application is Feb. 28, 2020, by 4:30 p.m., with no exceptions or extensions granted. All requests must be received or postmarked by this date and time. In addition, school system employees who have children receiving an employee hardship transfer must renew their request. The February 28 deadline applies to students and parents seeking a hardship transfer for medical reasons, curriculum differences, and child care situations or for employees’ children.

    Schools participating in open enrollment, a separate transfer process that allows students to move to a school with available space, will be announced in early May. Parents with questions or who need more information about hardship transfers can contact the Fulton County Schools’ Student Assignment Office at 470-254-5550 or visit


  • Flu Season Update - Georgia is experiencing the onset of an early flu season with confirmed cases already reported by local health providers. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics have stressed the importance of children receiving flu vaccines and the dangers of the flu to children. According to the CDC, a flu vaccine offers the best defense against getting flu and spreading it to others. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that the flu can cause 10 days of fever and lead to serious complications even for healthy kids. Therefore, we are sharing this information to remind us to take precautions and to work together to help prevent the spread of flu. To ensure the safety and health of students, staff and parents, we encourage you to take proactive measures that can help reduce the spread of the flu and other communicable illnesses. For more information, click here.     


  • Text4Help, a program for teens in crisis to anonymously find resources and support, will be expanded to Fulton County Schools middle schools. Launched in 2018 in collaboration with Fulton County Government, the program is an anonymous crisis text line aimed at providing a valuable resource for students seeking support or an outlet to share concerns. The program allows teens facing stress or in crisis to reach a licensed clinician who will respond within three minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The program was initially launched in FCS high schools now, one year after its launch, the program will be expanded to students in middle schools. Fulton County Government and FCS were the first in the Southeast to launch the Text4Help program.