SPARK Garden Center Bees: A Great Learning Opportunity

Fifth generation beekeeper Jon Caylor dons his protective suit to work with the SPARK bees.

Fifth generation beekeeper Jon Caylor dons his protective suit to work with the SPARK bees.

By Lola Carlisle

On May 6, we heard there was a swarm of bees at Springdale Park Elementary (SPARK), then heard that they were part of the school’s garden center. So, where did we go? Over to watch Jon the beekeeper sort out what was happening. He wasn’t 100% sure but believed the colony had grown too large so some bees were leaving to start another colony. In this case “the defectors” gathered temporarily in a nearby tree, and then returned to swarm around the old hive. Jon set up another hive to encourage formation of the second colony. He moved the queen to the new hive along with some of the other bees and now he’ll just keep an eye on how it goes. Jon is quick to note the extensive benefits of honey bees, and points out that they are not aggressive. SPARK is very careful regarding both the care of the bees and the safety of the students.

Caylor works to establish a second colony for the swarming SPARK bees.

Caylor works to establish a second colony for the swarming SPARK bees.

If you think this is fascinating – and who wouldn’t? – jump on over to SPARK’s Garden Center website to learn more. The center’s headed up by Jenna Mobley, SPARK’s Environmental Science teacher…and many energetic kids are actively engaged. You’ll also find more stories about Jon Caylor, a fifth generation beekeeper, who says that beekeeping is a hobby. He’s actually completing his graduate degree in organizational development at Mercer. Don’t you imagine he can draw some parallels between the organizational structure of businesses and bee colonies?

Just another everyday adventure in Virginia-Highland.


CINS Awards Grants to Grady, Inman, SPARK

cinslogo. to Grady High School, Inman Middle School, and Springdale Park Elementary School for being among those awarded grants by the Council of Intown Neighborhoods and Schools. A complete list of this year’s award winners follows.

If you want to learn more, you’re invited to attend the CINS Grant Showcase on Wednesday April 30, 2014 at 6:30 PM  at Hope-Hill Elementary School. There will be a special performance from Hope-Hill’s Pre-K class, and grant recipients will make brief presentations on their projects.

2014 Grant Awardees

  1. Instructional Personal Access Device Strategies (IPADS): Centennial Place Elementary
  2. Connecting to Literacy in a Technological Age: Hope-Hill Elementary
  3. For the Love of (Leveled) Reading: Intown Academy
  4. Yoga in the Classroom: Mary Lin Elementary
  5. Study Island: Mary Lin Elementary
  6. “There’s an App for That”: Mary Lin Elementary
  7. “So You Think You Can Cluck?”: Morningside Elementary
  8. SPARK science kits: Springdale Park Elementary
  9. Study Island: Inman Middle School
  10. Epson Document Camera: Inman Middle School
  11. Tracking the Rotational Rate of the Sun: Grady High School

SPARK Update: Prospective Parent Tours and Rising K Open House


Passing along the following from our friends at Springdale Park Elementary School:

Due to the overwhelming response SPARK has received for our prospective parent tours, we are modifying our tour schedule so we can accommodate everyone. No registration is necessary since we will make sure enough staff will be available to accompany guests and answer questions. We have had to change some dates in order for us to secure enough staff to help with the tours.

Our new tour dates are as follows:

  • Thursday, February 6th at 8:45 AM
  • Thursday, February 13th at 8:45 AM
  • Tuesday, February 25th at 8:45 AM
  • Tuesday, March 4th at 8:45 AM

Note: We have had to cancel the February 27th date.

When you arrive at SPARK, please go the main office first to sign in. After check in, please wait in the cafeteria until the tour starts. Please arrive on time – after 9:00, late arrivals will not be admitted.

Also, please mark your calendars for SPARK’s Rising Kindergarten Parent Open House on Tuesday March 11th at 8:45 AM. This is an opportunity for parents to hear from SPARK administration and kindergarten teachers about SPARK’s curriculum, the daily schedule for kindergartners, and visit a SPARK kindergarten classroom. We understand that children may need to accompany their parents to the open house but please note that this event is designed for parents.

We have received many questions about activities for rising kindergarten students and SPARK does hold a lunch for new students in the spring. We will post the information on our website and to the local preschools once we confirm a date.

SPARK also has kindergarten ambassadors – parents of current SPARK students who also have a kindergartner starting next year. They are a great resource for questions about SPARK. They will set up play dates for kindergartners to meet over the summer. Visit the Kindergarten Corner of the SPARK website for updates on activities. Our Kindergarten Ambassadors are Ida Centner ( and Heather Hallett (

You can also sign up for the SPARK newsletter SPARK-e, which provides weekly updates for SPARK parents. Visit to sign up.

When visiting SPARK, please allow plenty of time to park. Due to the expansion construction, there is no guest parking on-site. Please use side streets for parking. There is a walkway to SPARK from the DHUMC parking lot, although parking in the church lot is not permitted.

We are very excited to meet future SPARK parents at one of our scheduled events. We hope you can join us!


Support SPARK – Shop at Whole Foods Jan. 15th

SPARKSupporterLogowhole_foods-logo1Our friends at Springdale Park Elementary PTO have advised that Whole Foods on Ponce de Leon Ave. will hold a 5% sales day in support of SPARK on Wednesday January 15th. Whole Foods will donate 5% of net sales from 8 AM – 10 PM that day to the SPARK PTO so the more you shop during that period, the more you give to this worthy neighborhood cause.

Whole Foods’ mission is to cultivate a community of innovative thinkers with a commitment to personal, environmental, and social responsibility, where a love for learning is inspired by passionate student-focused teaching, based on the highest standards for academic excellence and creativity. Money raised through the 5% sales day will be used for curriculum, student enrichment, teacher support tools, and supplemental teacher training and aides.

For more information, visit


SPARK Angel Tree

angeltreePassing along the following from our friends at Springdale Park Elementary School:

Dear SPARK Community,

As we begin the holiday season, we are saddened that many children at Springdale Park Elementary and their families will not receive any gifts this year due to financial circumstances. However, we are fortunate to be in a community with generous and caring families and individuals, which is why we are having an angel tree for our students in need.

SPARK staff members have worked with the families of these students to get lists of needed items (clothes/shoes) and desired items (toys/games). Items are written on the back of ornaments hung on a tree, located just inside the front doors of the main building.

Unlike some angel trees that ask you to adopt a child or a family and provide their entire wish list, our angel tree has individual items on each ornament. We have also included gift card requests for each family, such as Publix and Wal-Mart gift cards, which can be used for food or toiletries.

Please consider being an angel for a SPARK student in need and providing an item or two. SPARK parents and all community members are welcome to take ornaments at any time during school hours (you will need to sign in at the main office first). If you are unable to come to SPARK and would still like to provide a gift, please email Meghan McClosky at

Gifts can be dropped off at SPARK with Kimberly Walker. Please have your gifts delivered to SPARK by Tuesday, December 17th. Gifts will be distributed to families by Friday, December 20th.

We ask that items not be wrapped in wrapping paper since we need to accurately distribute the gifts (gift bags are acceptable and appreciated). Also, each ornament tag includes a color code assigned to each family and child, in order to protect their privacy. Please send your tag with your gift or attach a note listing the two colored dots on the tag.

Many SPARK staff members are providing gifts, and we have asked SPARK parents to contribute as well. Our students even helped out by making the ornament tags for the angel tree (thanks to our wonderful 5th-grade volunteers). However, we would like to extend the opportunity for the larger SPARK community to participate in helping its students.

If you have any questions regarding the angel tree, please contact Meghan McCloskey at

We hope the many angels in the SPARK community can help our students in need and their families have a happy holiday season.


SPARK Teachers Win APS Awards

SPARKSupporterLogoCongratulations to SPARK teachers Jennifer Lockwood and Brianne Turgeon who were honored this past Tuesday by receiving $7,500 awards from Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education.

Lockwood teaches 4th grade at SPARK and Turgeon is the school’s music and chorus instructor. They were two of ten APS educators to win the prestigious award.

Click here to read a Patch article on the awards.

Congratulations again to Jennifer Lockwood and Brianne Turgeon – two of Atlanta’s top educators!


Springdale Park Elementary PTO Announces SPARK Partners Program

External Picture of SPARKLeave it to Virginia-Highland residents to meet a challenge head-on by trying something a little different.

As many are aware, the funding model for public schools across the country is under distress. While student population continues to grow at Springdale Park Elementary (SPARK), the school’s budget from Atlanta Public Schools leaves a gap in the funding needed to deliver the high quality enrichment programs our residents expect. A team of parents recognized this earlier this year and responded with an innovative new program called SPARK Partners.

SPARK Partners creates win-win relationships between profit and non-profit organizations and SPARK by establishing comprehensive, one-year partnerships. SPARK serves Virginia-Highland, Poncey Highland and a portion of Midtown and Druid Hills, so organizers reached out to potential partners that were present in all stakeholder communities. The inaugural year began in August with several different partner tiers and 25 total partners, including Whole Foods Market, Fernbank Museum and other businesses and professional services. The businesses are promoted to the parent-base (never to students) through the SPARK website, e-newsletter, signage on campus and more. More than $45,000 in cash and in-kind giving was secured in the first year from participating partners.

Organizers understand, though, that SPARK Partners will only succeed if the objectives of the business are clearly understood and programs are aligned as closely as possible to the organization’s brand positioning. Here are some examples of how this is being done.

  • Thanks to its close proximity to the school, SPARK students have historically enjoyed occasional field trips to Fernbank Museum. This year, though, Fernbank is the the program’s designated education partner and the museum’s leadership is working with teachers to create field trip experiences that map directly to the school’s Common Core Curriculum. All SPARK teachers were invited to a meeting with group education specialists to design the program, and this year every SPARK class will visit the museum. Fernbank will also take a lead role at the SPARK Family Science night in September, providing the keynote address and demonstrations throughout the evening.
  • Whole Foods, the top SPARK Partner, will not only donate 5% of all sales to the school on a date in the spring yet to be determined, but will also provide fruit for “Fresh Fruit Fridays” and flowers for the 5th grade Valentine’s teacher appreciation event. Through the Schoolyard Sprouts program, Whole Foods has actively helped build SPARK’s Environmental Educational program and continues to show a commitment to sustainable living by sharing materials to create waste-free lunches and more.

SPARK GardenSeveral other SPARK Partner programs have launched that have gotten the collective community engaged. Among them:

  • For years, Osteria and Doc Chey’s have supported SPARK through independent gifts and “dine-outs” – when a restaurant gives a percentage of an evening’s sales to the school. This year the school moved from these very ‘transactional’ dine-outs, to SPARK Partner Spirit Nights. A Spirit Night will be at Doc Chey’s during Chinese New Year this year. Students will receive enrichment in class to learn more about the cultural celebration, and will then enjoy an evening at Doc Chey’s with classmates exploring the food and iconography with greater appreciation.
  • As part of the School Yard Sprouts program, Atkins Park’s Chef Andrew has worked in the garden for years with Jenna Mobley, the SPARK Environmental Education teacher. This year, we will also enjoy the SPARK Spirit Night “garden to table” style. Students will harvest sweet potatoes and other vegetables from the school garden and Chef Andrew will prepare them in various dishes at the restaurant for kids and families to enjoy in preparation for the Thanksgiving celebration.
  • Established in 1922, Atkins Park is proud of its history in our community. In February the restaurant will launch a competition for students to submit a photograph of an in-town historic building or architectural detail and the winning student will receive a free dinner for their entire family. Atkins Park owner Sandra Spoon says, “We are excited to be a community partner with SPARK this school year. We want to know our neighbors and we want the neighbors to know us as their local business. Chef Andrew has a passion for quality fresh produce and works with local farmers. He enjoys his work with the Environmental Education program at SPARK, engaging with students in gardening and cooking demos.”
  • Murphy’s Restaurant will also be celebrating a “Garden to Table” Spirit Night, featuring fresh lettuce from the October harvest.
  • San Francisco Coffee Roasting Company supports each Principal Tea / PTO Coffee that is held at the school for parents to gather with administrators. They’ve also allowed students to use their Virginia-Highland location during the summer months as a gallery for their end-of-year art show.
  • Career Day takes place in November and this year school counselor William Holley needed to look no further than the professional talent of SPARK Partners for expertise. American Roadhouse’s Emile Blau, Ameriprise Investing’s Marc Welborn, Harry Norman Realtors’ Ashley Bynum and others will be sharing their enriching career experience with students.

Another program benefit for parents is a SPARK Retailer Card, a loyalty card fob that can easily be attached to a keychain. Partners will offer different promotions that will be posted on a website and parents can visit the business to take advantage of the discount. Rich Chey, of Osteria and Doc Cheys, shared that  “The SPARK Partner Program is a great way for my restaurants to support Springdale Park Elementary and all the families it serves. We often have guests in the restaurants who thank us for supporting their school. It’s gratifying and reinforces the decision to dedicate a portion of our marketing budget to the SPARK Partners program.”

Strong in-town communities have been described as having three essential characteristics: an active residential community, with safe, walkable streets and established parks; a successful public school system; and a healthy business community. Business owners clearly recognize that a thriving school system enables the next generation of our community to succeed, which helps their business to prosper in future years. As Sandra Spoon said, “we view this as an important investment in the future of this community.  If our community is successful, it helps us be successful.”

Parents feel much the same and want to celebrate what the SPARK Partners are bringing to enrich the lives of the students. Mark Rebillot, one of the parents actively involved in the program’s development, said, “It’s important for the program that parents recognize the contribution of our Partners, and in turn that Partners exceed their business objectives. We intend to execute successfully so that each partner will commit again for next year, hopefully at a higher investment level.”

Scroll down to see logos of the businesses currently enrolled in the SPARK Partners program.

To learn more about SPARK Partners program, visit

Banner with SPARK Partners logos jpeg


Education Update: April 1, 2013

Inman Middle School

By: Nicole Foerschler Horn

There are several changes being proposed as well as updates for schools within the Grady Cluster. Following is a summary:

Significant Changes Proposed for Springdale Park Elementary (SPARK)

Ending Spark’s Extended Day

SPARK is one of a handful of schools with 30 minutes of additional instructional time. APS is considering ending extended day for SPARK. The Spark Parent Teacher Organization opposes this change for several reasons, including the potential impact it would have on recess, concerns about teachers’ planning time, and the extra time needed for SPARK students to transition between multiple buildings on campus.

Cutting Early Intervention Program (EIP) Teachers From 5 to 1

APS has announced it’s changing how schools will be allocated teachers for the Early Intervention Program (EIP), which will result in Spark losing 4 of its current 5 EIP teachers. The EIP teachers help students keep pace with the academic rigor of SPARK. There are more than 80 students currently served by EIP teachers and this population (as with SPARK’s overall population) is expected to increase next year. Without these teachers, SPARK will have a large community of children who will receive diminished academic support in the coming year. The SPARK PTO believes that cutting 4 of the 5 EIP teachers will have serious consequences for all of SPARK’s students.

If you have concerns or questions about the above topics, please email Superintendent Davis at; Karen Waldon, the Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at; Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, Board of Education at; and David White, East Regional K-12 Executive Director at

Davis Seeks Input on Inman Middle School Overcrowding

APS is seeking public input on Inman overcrowding through the end of April 2013. Superintendent Erroll Davis advised the Grady Cluster community that trailers will remain at Inman to provide additional classroom capacity needed for the 2013-2014 school year. APS has asked for public input on the Inman overcrowding situation. Comments and suggestions should be emailed before the end of April to For additional information on the Inman capacity issue see

Inman Principal’s Coffee on Safety and Transportation

April 2, 2013; 6:00 PM; Inman Media Center

Please join Ms. Herrema for the next Principal’s Coffee. This month’s session will be held Tuesday April 2 from 6-7 PM to accommodate those that cannot attend the morning sessions. Topics to be discussed include safety and transportation. Elementary school parents from the cluster are welcome to attend.

Changes Across the Cluster: School Start Times

APS announced it is considering changing the start times for schools. APS said its goal for the new start times is to improve student safety, on time arrival, and avoid the purchase of 50 new buses. The proposed changes are:

Current Proposed New
Springdale Park Start time 8:00 am, Dismissal at 3:00 pm (this includes extended day) Start time 7:45 am (with bus drop off from 7:00 – 7:15 am), Dismissal 2:15 pm
Inman Start time 8:45 am, Dismissal at 3:45 pm Start time 9:05 am (with bus drop off from 8:35 – 8:50 am), Dismissal 4:05 pm
Grady Start time 8:15 am, Dismissal at 3:15 pm Start time 8:30 am (with bus drop off from 8:00 – 8:15 am), Dismissal 3:30 pm

The Springdale Park PTO and Local School Council (LSC) wrote a joint letter to APS in opposition of the new start times for SPARK. The PTO and LSC are concerned that children would begin to be picked up around 6:50 am, at which time it is still dark outside for most of the school year. The organizations are also concerned this earlier start time (and bus pick up time) will cause more parents to drive their children to school, which will create additional traffic problems on Briarcliff.

The Inman and Grady PTAs and LSCs have not taken a position on the earlier start times for their respective schools.

If you have concerns or questions about the earlier start time, please email John Lyles at

Springdale Park Registration for 2013-14

Registration for the 2013-14 school year will be held April 1 – April 4 from 5:00 – 7:00  pm in the school cafeteria. APS allocates resources to schools based on enrollment so it is imperative that the school has accurate counts of who will be attending.

Suggested evenings to register are:

If your last name begins with A – H: April 1; I – P: April 2; Q – Z: April 3; any/all last names: April 4.

Again, these are suggested times only so please come when your schedule allows. Additionally, a notary will be available all evenings for a $2 fee per stamp.

Please park at 803 Briarcliff Road or 1246 Ponce de Leon Avenue or legal street parking – do not park next door at the Druid Hills United Methodist Church.

If you have any questions, contact Mary Stouffer at


Education Committee Update: January 2, 2013

By: Nicole Foerschler Horn

Grady Debate Tournament, Traffic and Volunteering

Grady’s debate team The Jesters is getting ready to host their big debate tournament of the year, “The Quest for the Dream” regional tournament on January 11th and 12thThis tournament enhances the prestige of the Grady High School speech and debate team and is a major fundraiser for The Jesters.

What does the tournament mean for Virginia-Highland? The tournament is held at both Grady High School and Inman Middle School, using hundreds of classrooms and common facilities at both schools. Tournament preparation begins at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, January 11. First rounds of the tournament start at 5:00 p.m. and conclude by around 10:00 p.m. Friday.  The tournament resumes on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. (with preparation starting at 6:30 a.m.) and lasts until about 9:00 p.m.

According to Grady, 500 debaters and 150 judges from Georgia and nearby states will participate in the tournament. The entire debate team and many parent and community volunteers will also participate. Expect heavier than normal vehicular and pedestrian traffic and overflowing parking lots at each school.

This is an amazing event for the Grady Jesters and a wonderful opportunity for students from across the country to experience the unique beauty of our neighborhoods and schools. If you’d like to volunteer to help with the tournament, contact Janet Kishbaugh at

Books for SPARK Kids

If you have gently used books, appropriate for children in grades K-5 (especially 3-5), please consider donating them to Springdale Park Elementary. SPARK keeps several shelves of books in the cafeteria which students can enjoy each day during their lunch period. We are in need of a few more books, particularly for our older children. Both fiction and non-fiction books are needed. You can drop off any books you care to donate at the SPARK front office.

Grady Knights of Sound Pure Essence Dancers Win Gold

Congratulations to the Grady Knights of Sound Pure Essence Dancers for winning a trophy in the Gold category on November 11 in the Battle of Dance Line competition at the Georgia World Congress Center. The competition between Atlanta-area high schools judges stand routine, attire, technique, choreography and dance routine.

The Southerner – High School Journalism Hall of Fame

The staffs of the Grady publications and broadcast programs traveled to San Antonio November 15 – 18 to attend the National Scholastic Press Association’s (NSPA) fall convention. The Southerner was inducted into the NSPA Hall of Fame for receiving All-American ratings for 10 of the past 11 years. Additionally, the Southerner received its eight Pacemaker Award, widely considered the Pulitzer Price of high school journalism.

College & Career Connection Spotlighted

The Atlanta Intown newspaper featured the College & Career Connection  (CCC) in its December edition. It’s a great article on the history of the CCC and how the organization seeks to help all students at Grady High School. Check it out at, page 39, for.

Grady Book Club

Join the Grady Book Club for discussions of recent and classic books. Meetings are on the third Monday of each month at 6:15 p.m. in the homes of members. See the Gradygram for meeting locations, or contact Upcoming meeting include:

• January 21 – Everybody Was So Young:  Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill

• February 18 – The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore



Education Committee Update: December 2, 2012

By: Nicole Foerschler Horn

Register Now for the Inman Frosty 5K!

Inman’s annual fun run is Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10 AM. Sprinters, runners, joggers, and walkers are all welcome both for the race and the after-race festivities. You can do it!  Register now at Students can enter the password “eagles” to register for only $10.

Springdale Park Elementary School Prospective Student Parent Tour

Parents of prospective students are invited to learn more about Springdale Park Elementary School. The tour will be held on Wednesday, December 4th at 1 PM. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jeanine Rousso at

Principal Evaluation Survey

APS is conducting an evaluation survey for each of its principals. To take the survey through the Internet, you must first opt in by filling out an online form that requests your name, school, e-mail address, and identification as parent or community member. A link to the survey will then be sent to you by e-mail, though not immediately.  If you do not receive the link within 24 hours of completing the opt-in form, contact Deandra Crumpler, 404.802.2711 or You may also fill out a survey for a school in your community, even if you do not currently have a child at the school, but you may have to opt in on separate days. Paper copies of the survey are also available in the front office and should be returned to the front office. To get started, go to Principal Survey Opt In. For more info, go to Flyer on Principal Survey

Upcoming CINS (Council of Intown Neighborhoods and Schools) Meetings

What: APS’ Human Resources – Hiring, Staffing, Leveling and Professional Development

When: December 12, 2012 – Noon

Where: Springdale Park Elementary School, 1246 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30306

What: 2013 Legislative Agenda for Education

When: January 16, 2013 – 7:00 pm

Where: Centennial Place Elementary School, 531 Luckie Street, Atlanta, GA 30313


Education Committee Update: November 19, 2012

By: Nicole Foerschler Horn

Inman Recognized as a “Highest Performing” Title 1 School

Inman Middle School is among the top 5% of Title I schools in the State of Georgia according to the Georgia Department of Labor. Inman Middle School is also one of only two schools in Atlanta Public Schools with the Highest-Performing School distinction.

Register Now for the Inman Frosty 5K!

Inman’s annual fun run is Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10 AM. Sprinters, runners, joggers, and walkers are all welcome both for the race and the after-race festivities. You can do it!  Register now at Students can enter the password “eagles” to register for only $10.

Springdale Park Elementary School Prospective Student Parent Tour

Parents of prospective students are invited to learn more about Springdale Park Elementary School. The tour will be held on Wednesday, December 4th at 1 p.m. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jeanine Rousso at

Inman Transition Meeting for Parents of Rising 6th Graders

Inman will be hosting a series of meetings for parents and students of rising 6th graders. The first meeting will be on November 29th at 7 p.m. in the media center at Inman. This is a meeting for parents only.

Also, parents of rising 6th graders, zoned for Inman Middle School, should have received in the mail the 2012-2013 Inman “Transition In” material. Included in that material is a special welcome from Ms. Herrema, this year’s “Transition In” schedule, a list of documents required for registration and other important information just for rising 6th grade families. If you live in an area zoned to attend Inman Middle School and have not received your transition mailing, please contact Inman’s 6th Grade Counselor, Ms. Tina Blevins, at or 404.802.3215. Parents of all 5th grade students zoned to Inman, but who are not currently enrolled in one of Inman’s feeder elementary schools listed above, should also contact Ms. Blevins if they plan to attend Inman next year so that you can receive future in-zone mailings.

Grady 101 – For Parents

Thursday, November 29, 2012, beginning at 8:00 a.m. in the Inman auditorium, Inman will host for parents the first of three “Grady 101” presentations. This presentation is titled “Program of Study” and the presenters will be Grady staff members Ms. Blankenship, Lead Counselor; Ms. MacBrien, Transition Liaison; and Ms. Sabb, AP Coordinator/Instructional Coach. In addition, forms relevant to the presentation and a FAQ document will be distributed. The second presentation, “Student Support,” is scheduled to take place in January, and the third, focusing on clubs, teams and other aspects of student life at Grady, will be held in March. While there will not be a formal Q&A session as part of the presentation, questions can be submitted to  A response will be sent to all emails. The presentation will be recorded and posted on both Grady’s and Inman’s websites. In addition, the forms distributed, including the FAQ, will be posted on both websites. Finally, a list of Grady parents willing to discuss their experience(s) at Grady will be distributed.

SPARK Teacher Wins Atlanta Families’ Award for Excellence in Education

Brittany Beaumont, a first grade teacher at SPARK, was one of eight educators in Atlanta honored with the Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education.

Superintendent Erroll Davis, Atlanta Falcons football players and Homer, the Braves mascot, were among those who surprised teachers in their classrooms with the news that each would receive a $7,500 grant. Each award includes $3,500 for a school project of the winner’s choice, $1,500 for a professional development opportunity to boost the educator’s effectiveness and a personal stipend of $2,500.

The award is designed to retain excellent teachers and school leaders, inspire other educators, and raise public awareness about the work of high-performing educators. Since 2005, Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education has recognized outstanding teachers and school leaders for their commitment to excellence.

The aim of Ms. Beaumont’s project is to build strong foundational writing skills in students and give them the tools they will need to be lifelong writers. Through the implementation of this project, a writing culture will be established in the classroom that integrates writing skills into all subject areas. Students will be provided with needed resources and challenged to apply a variety of skills and strategies that will increase the quality and effectiveness of their writing. They will also make use of technology resources as they work to digitally publish their writing. The project will culminate with a writing festival where students will celebrate the art of writing and will showcase their best work to invitees: parents, administrators, community members, and local authors

“I’m so thrilled to have been selected as an AFAEE winner,” Ms. Beaumont says. “I’m really looking forward to implementing my writing initiative project and helping my students to become writers for life. I also look forward to sharing my experiences and resources with other teachers and students.”

The organization has raised more than $1 million for the awards program. For more information or to nominate a teacher for the 2013 awards, visit

Principal Evaluation Survey

APS is conducting an evaluation survey for each of its principals. To take the survey via the Internet, you must first opt in by filling out an online form that requests your name, school, e-mail address, and identification as parent or community member. A link to the survey will then be sent to you by e-mail, though not immediately. If you do not receive the link within 24 hours of completing the opt-in form, contact Deandra Crumpler, 404.802.2711  You may also fill out a survey for a school in your community, even if you do not currently have a child at the school, but you may have to opt in on separate days.  Paper copies of the survey are also available in the front office and should be returned to the front office. To get started, go to Principal Survey Opt In. For more info, go to Flyer on Principal Survey


Education Committee Update

By: Nicole Foerschler Horn

Morningside Town Hall Meeting with APS Executives Set For November 14

John O’ Connor, APS Assistant Superintendent for Student Services and Vickie Cleveland, Executive Director for Special Education, will be on hand for a town hall meeting to be held Wednesday November 14th at 8:30 am in the Morningside Elementary Media Center. The event is open to all families in the Grady Cluster.

The Office of Student Programs and Services (OSPS) is composed of the following units: Department of Special Education – Counseling Services – Nursing Services – Psychological Services – Parent Involvement Program – Social Work Services – Homeless Education – Truancy Intervention – Student Support Team – Student Placement – Student Tribunal and Alternative Placement – Student Records.

Your are invited to come and learn about the Office of Student Programs and Services which provides comprehensive, collaborative and coordinated services to students, staff, parents and communities. OSPS ensures that all efforts focus on student success and the goals central to APS’ strategic plan. Additionally, OSPS supports acquisition of the skills essential to academic achievement, career and educational decision-making, and personal/social development. These programs are fundamental to providing wrap-around services.

Furthermore, the Office of Student Programs and Services develops and coordinates early intervention strategies to ensure that curriculum, instruction and behavioral practices best meet the educational needs of all students; provides parenting education opportunities; enhances family-school partnerships; develops community outreach; and establishes partnerships with businesses and human services agencies.

Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to the Special Education Committee Chairs, Michelle Constantinides at or Kim Martin at

Support SPARK’s All-Star Book Fair

Springdale Park Elementary’s ALL-STAR BOOK FAIR continues online until November 10th. Buy books as holiday presents, to enhance your child’s library, or to donate to your favorite teacher’s classroom. This is a great way to support our neighborhood elementary school because a portion of the proceeds goes back to SPARK.

Visit to shop until November 10th. If you do not have a student at SPARK, please put VHCA in the “Classroom Teacher” box during the checkout process. All books are shipped to SPARK and we will deliver the books to your home.

Books will be shipped within three days of the close of the online fair.

Questions?  Contact Lynne Kushner at

SPARK Teacher Wins Outstanding Educator of the Year Award

Click here to read a great story on Patch about Brittany Beaumont, a first grade teacher at Springdale Park Elementary who was one of eight educators honored recently with an Atlanta Families’ Award for Excellence in Education.

Inman Middle School Named One of State’s Top Performing Title 1 Schools

Click here to read an story about Inman Middle School being one of 46 metro Atlanta schools named to the state’s list of top performing Title 1 schools.


SPARK Elementary School Student Safety

Thanks to Stephany Heller, Virginia Avenue Street Captain and SPARK mother, for getting the ball rolling for a 911 training session for these students. I attended one of the student sessions led by 911 call center staffers and was amazed at how well-trained the 1st graders were about stranger danger and how to call 911 for help. Thanks also to SPARK principal, Ms. Yolanda Brown, and 911 call center director, Lieutenant Brenda Ross, for their help in setting this up. Thanks also to the alert and aware parents we have for training their kids about urban safety.

Then shortly later, SPARK students got to meet APD Officer McGruff, for more safety training. This story at –

Speaking of Lieutenant Ross – congrats to her for achieving a 90% answer rate in 10 seconds for 911 assistance calls. This achievement rate did not happen without a lot of hard work on her part. The story at –

Let me know if there is interest in presenting these same programs at Morningside School and I’ll get busy.


Voice – Spring 2010

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– Triangle island renovation nears completion
– Home Tour recap
– Local Haiti relief efforts continue
– President’s Corner: Callanwolde silent auction results
– SPARK students introduced to debate
– Spotlight on Grady High School
– Grow fruit in your garden
– Streetscape update
– Green Dream silent auction a success
– Safety update: Reed administration and the APD
– Orme Park Phase One improvements
– How healthy are your trees?
– History part VI
– Col. Mustard reviews Rosebud


Voice – Winter 2009-10

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– VaHi Green Dream silent auction
– 15th annual Tour of Homes
– President’s Corner
– SPARK opens its doors
– Spotlight on Grady
– VaHi’s Green Dream
– Spotlight on public safety
– Spotlight on businesses: Atlanta Activewear and Knitch relocates
– City responds to streetscape project concerns
– Col. Mustard reviews George’s
– Update on Callanwolde drainage concerns


Voice – Summer 2009

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– Summerfest
– Neighborhood preservation committee update
– Planning for 2009 Tour of Homes
– Historic Fourth Ward Park under construction
– President’s Corner: fundraising for new park
– News from MES and Inman
– SPARK gets name and principal
– Join New Highland Park Conservancy
– New businesses: Glamour Paws, D.B.A. Barbeque, Silverstein, Thomas & Carter
– VHCA wants you!
– Rufus Henry Stansell (1929-2009) neighborhood folk artist
– Col. Mustard reviews Belly General Store
– History of Virginia Highland Part III


Voice – Winter 2008-9

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Published November 2008

– 14th annual Tour of Homes
– President’s Corner
– Safety Update
– The Bus Stop, news from schools
– VHCA attemps to purchase former library lots, by Pamela Papner
– More delays for Phase II of VaHi streetscape improvements, by John Becker
– New elementary school to open in August 2009
– Neighborhood commercial (NC) zoning initiative gains momentum by John Peak and Pamela Papner
– VHCA 2008-2009 membership Q&A
– Street smart by Drew Baughman
– History of Virginia-Highland, Part I
– Buy a brick in the new VaHi park


Voice – Winter 2007-8

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– Phase II Streetscape plans finalized
– President’s Corner
– 2007 Tour of Homes recap
– Area homes included on tour of kitchens
– Zipcar comes to VaHi
– VaHi Safety Team report
– Neighborhood preservation initiative gains steam
– Trees Atlanta visits VaHi
– The Bus Stop: school news
– Col. Mustard reviews La Tavola
– Intown cycling: family style
– Orme Park master plan takes shape, by Jack White