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News to Know for the Week of February 18-21, 2020

Special Observances for February 


  • African American History Month is observed during the month of February. It was created by Carter G. Woodson in the 1920s. In 1976, the month-long celebration was established as a time to reflect on the history, teachings, and achievements of African Americans. For more information visit  


  • Take Your Family to School Week is February 16 – 23.  For over 120 years, the National PTA (Parent Teacher Association) has been encouraging families to get more involved in their children’s education. Click here to learn more


Save the Date  


  • In an effort to continue the conversation on the importance of early learning for children up to 5-years-old, FCS’ office of Early Childhood Programs  will offer a series of community events that will feature the documentary, “No Small Matter,” previewed here, followed by a panel discussion. The film explores early childhood education through poignant stories and humor, laying out the evidence for the importance of the first five years of learning. After each viewing, the subsequent panel discussion will provide information on local resources that support young children and families. Event locations are provided below:    


Thursday, February 13 6 PM to 8 PM South Learning Center
4025 Flat Shoals Road
Union City GA
Tuesday, February 18 6 PM to 8 PM North Learning Center
450 Northridge Pkwy
Sandy Springs GA
Tuesday, March 3 6 PM to 8 PM Teaching Museum South
689 North Avenue
Hapeville, GA
Tuesday, March 9 6 PM to 8 PM Johns Creek High School
5575 State Bridge Road
Johns Creek
Tuesday, March 17 6 PM to 8 PM North Learning Center
450 Northridge Pkwy
Sandy Springs GA
Wednesday, March 18 6 PM to 8 PM Teaching Museum North
793 Northridge Pkwy
Sandy Springs, GA


  • The FCS Department of Recruiting will host a College 2 Career event with Piedmont College on Monday, Feb. 24 from 9:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the North Learning Center (NLC). The half-day event is designed to expose Piedmont’s education majors - all juniors - to the Fulton County School system. Special guest speakers, Superintendent Mike Looney and Chief Talent Officer Ron Wade will be featured and a mini workshop on technology teaching will be offered. The NLC is located at 450 Northridge Parkway, Sandy Springs, GA. 


  • Ridgeview Charter Middle is hosting their second AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Showcase Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Ridgeview is inviting educators and visitors from around the metro area and state to observe their model AVID program and how it's implemented.  Attendees will also learn about student achievement outcomes, best practices, accountability for college readiness, classroom visits, observation of critical reading strategies,  hear from a student panel, and more. AVID instructors and administrators will illustrate how to align AVID to their  current efforts and next steps for implementation. 


  • The candidate declaration phase for the 2020 School Governance Council (SGC) elections process ends February 26.

    Each FCS principal has received information on eligibility guidelines. Voting takes placeMarch 17-24. If needed, run-offs will take placeMarch 26. Winners will be announced March 27.  School Governance Council enable parents, staff, students, and community leaders to work together on school strategic plans.  


  • Oakley Elementary will host a Black History Quiz Bowl February 28 at 8 a.m. Students in grades 3-5 will put their Black History knowledge to the test as they compete against each other via an online platform. 

    The hour-long event will enhance the students’ academic competition skills and help them develop deeper knowledge of African American history.   


Awards and Honors 


  • The Georgia Department of Education recognized Fulton County Schools high schools with these distinctions: 

    Banneker High was named an Advanced Placement Expansion School. The distinction highlights AP schools that experience 25% growth in AP participation over a one-year period (May 2018-May 2019) and also have minimum of 25 students taking AP exams in May 2018. AP STEM Schools recognized include Banneker High, Creekside High, Langston Hughes High, and Westlake High. These schools had a minimum of five students testing in at least four AP STEM courses: AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, AP Physics C, AP Computer Science A, and AP Computer Science Principles.

    Johns Creek High’s Band Director Matt Koperniak has been named the 2019 Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) Music Educator of the Year. This award recognizes outstanding merit in teaching and/or administration by music educators whose service to students, community, and the profession is exemplary. The award was presented at the GMEA In-Service Conference on January 23 in Athens, GA. Additionally, Dr. Koperniak was elected President of GMEA via statewide elections and will serve in that role during the 2021-2023 term.

    Autrey Mill Middle’s Orchestra Director Tim Anderson was named the 2019 Georgia chapter of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) Educator of the Year at the In-Service conference of the Georgia Music Educators Association in January. Winners are nominated from the general ASTA membership and then voted upon by the state ASTA board members.

    River Trail Middle’s after-school Cooking Club will be representing Fulton County Schools as the sole FCS school at the second annual Georgia Department of Education Middle School Student Chef Competition. Sponsors, Pat Hooper, Lisa Davenport, and Grace Hernandez will also be in attendance. The recipe, Spicy Teriyaki Vegetable Crunch, has been selected as the recipe for the competition which will be held on Thursday, February 20. For more information and to see competing schools, visit:

    Lake Forest Elementary  was recognized for its success in raising student achievement by Solution Tree, a global company that helps schools with improvement strategies, resources, and professional development. The school’s successful implementation of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) at Work™ process was a major contributing factor in the improved achievement of its students. PLCs are schools and districts in which educators recognize the key to improved learning for students. The three big ideas of a PLC call upon educators to focus on learning and building a collaborative culture. Schools are recognized based on strict criteria, including demonstration of a commitment to PLC concepts, implementation of these concepts for at least three years, and clear evidence of improved student learning over that period. Once measurable results can be seen, the school must explain its practices, structures, and culture and submit its application for consideration by the PLC Review Committee. One of approximately 200 schools and districts in the U.S and Canada typically receive this honor.

    Milton High’s  magazine, The Globe, received the highest ranking from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) for their 2019 debut edition. The council’s program that honors excellence in literary magazines produced by students with the support of their teachers is Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazine (REALM). Designed to encourage all schools to develop literary magazines that celebrate the art and craft of writing, the REALM recognition program qualified 325 submissions to clear the preliminary round. The Globe was one of 46 magazines nationally to achieve the ranking of REALM First Class and the only one in Georgia. Now in its second year and under the guidance of advisor Gillian Miller, the magazine is a year-long, student-run extra-curricular project supported by teachers. Their publication aims to highlight the various writing talents of Milton students, featuring submissions from English, music and art classes to demonstrate original works of different disciplines.

    Three FCS schools won Best Overall in the Bright Spark Design Competition for the district level on February 1. Mountain Park ElementaryRiver Trail Middle, and Centennial High each won Best Overall for their school level category. First place winners for the other categories include:

       Eliminate Food Insecurity Challenge - Mountain Park Elementary

       Design Eco-Friendly Food Packaging Challenge - Centennial High

       Reimagine the Game Day Experience Challenge - Summit Hill Elementary

    The winners advanced to a state level and submitted their solutions to the Virtual Prototype Review. All review participants are invited to the Student Design Awards, held in March at the Georgia Tech Ferst Center for the Arts. The Design Challenge is one of several themed challenges and runs from January 9 – February 29.

    Bright Spark is part of the social innovation arm of the global company Bridge Innovate, which was conceived to create confidence with students and educators using design thinking. The event is open to students in fourth grade through college to build design skills including empathy, problem solving, prototyping, and experimenting to innovate new solutions.  


Cool Kids (and Schools and Staff) Doing Cool Things 


  • Coaches Thelesia Barksdale, Renaissance Middle and Beverly Stringer, McNair Middle set a precedent at a recent basketball game. The two instructors had their cheerleading teams collaborate in an act of sportsmanship and unity. The competing schools tumbled together in unity. Their principals were excited about the cooperative display at a time when taunting cheers often are performed. “I was so excited when I received word that the young ladies would be joining forces to display their talents together,” said McNair Principal John Madden. “The good sportsmanship of the cheerleaders united everyone. The entire atmosphere changed, even though we were still competing against each other that night. The young ladies were strong with their perspective schools, but together they made an even stronger statement without even trying about teamwork, sportsmanship, and just having fun doing what they enjoy.”

    Renaissance Principal Cresida Hawk said, “I felt that it was an awesome display of character and teamwork. One of my favorite quotes from author Rudyard Kipling is, ‘For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.’ Although we are individual schools, we are still a team that supports each other on and off the court. I could not have been prouder of our cheerleading teams and coaches! They’ve set the precedence for how our athletic teams should interact, collaborate, and truly show FCS pride.” 


  • Students from Hembree Springs, River Eves, Roswell North, Esther Jackson, Mountain Park, and Hillside Elementary have produced over 30 pieces of artwork that are currently being showcased at Roswell City Hall as a part of the Roswell Roots/Black History Month. Hembree Springs Instructional Paraprofessional Tiana Diggs initiated the student artwork feature and invited other elementary schools to expand the formerly adult art exhibit to feature the work of local children. The free exhibit began January 20 and will be displayed through March 6. The theme was “African Americans and the Vote.” The students’ artwork is displayed on every floor. Call 770.641.3727 or visit Roswell City Hall 38 Hill Street, Roswell, GA. 


In Case You Missed It 


  • Langston Hughes High in partnership with the South Fulton Arrow Youth Council held the inaugural South Learning Community Literacy Festival over the weekend. It was a time to focus on reading in creative ways. The Literacy Festival featured a Young Authors Showcase, Poets Café, a “live” Black History Museum, and a spelling bee. Participants were encouraged to read, write, and express themselves.

    Dr. Maya Taylor, founder of the South Fulton Arrow Youth Council said young leaders in the council created the event because “it was important for us to raise the scores for childhood wellbeing and literacy.”

    Seaborn Lee Elementary scholars McKenzie and McKayla Farfam read from their book “Be Yourself.” College Park Elementary Beta Club students performed poetry in the Expressions Café.  Literacy workshops for grades K-5 involved students in writing their own books and telling stories to the class. There were also workshops for parents to instruct them on how to support literacy in their homes. 


  • Flu Season reminder - Georgia is currently experiencing widespread flu cases as reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health.  According to the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a flu vaccine offers the best defense against getting flu and spreading it to others. The 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 flu and other communicable illnesses. For more information, please visit: