Looking Back, 
Paying it Forward 1

We asked some of the schools in our area what notable milestones they hit last year on campus and what priority they will put on community service in the 2016-17 school year.

Atlanta  Speech School

Milestones: The Atlanta Speech School hired Brandi Kenner, Ph.D. as its Director of Research and Innovation. The Speech School has always had strong relationships with the nation’s leading brain development and literacy experts, and its curriculum has always been based on a synthesis of the latest cutting edge research. Dr. Kenner will help the School deepen and expand these relationships, and ensure that their teachers are best able to bring that research to the individual needs of each student.

Reach Out: Third graders in the Wardlaw School (elementary school for children with dyslexia) participate in Read to Feed, a reading incentive service learning program through Heifer International which coincides with In Their Shoes Day. Students will begin their day by filling gallon milk jugs with water and then walking for a mile on campus. Lights will stay off all day, since many schools in developing countries don’t have electricity. If they get a mid-morning snack it’s porridge, and they have to strain their water through cheesecloth as if they are purifying it.

Marist School

Milestones: The school celebrated the completion of $35 million capital campaign, “The Way. The Hope. The Promise.,” which transformed Marist’s campus for 21st century education.

Reach Out: This year, for grades 9-12,  Informed Civil Discourse Day will be planned in October familiaring students with a communications philosophy and method to help them have exchanges on political and other closely felt topics without resorting to accusations or epithets. Staff are committed to helping students find their voice, but a voice that is civil and informed. Also, students will be continuing Marist’s commitment to the Terra Project (sustainability).

Buckhead Preparatory School

Milestones: The 2015-2016 academic year marked the 10th Anniversary of Buckhead Preparatory School. To celebrate this milestone, the Buckhead Prep Foundation was established this year so that the proven, rapid-learn reading programs may be made available to even more children in the Atlanta area.

Reach Out: Each year in November, Buckhead Prep hosts Project Feed to benefit families in need in Atlanta.  The week before Thanksgiving, parents donate a select number of food items.  The Kindergarten class then establishes a “grocery store” where the items are sorted, labeled, and displayed.  Each year, our students and families’ efforts serve at least 260 adults and children and provide over 6500 meals to local families in need.

The Lovett School

Milestones: Last year, Lovett faculty schooled themselves on the latest research on the brain and learning. In the spring, Lovett hosted the inaugural Lovett Learning Institute: Brain Matters, a two-day conference for educators and community members interested in learning about the brain. In 2016-17, faculty is inspired to share what they know about the brain and learning with students. Fifth graders may select a one-trimester elective course on the brain. Sixth graders will have a brain and learning rotation within the Lovett Life Lessons course.

Reach Out: Over 200 students tutored at Agape this year and the Lower School hosted their Agape peers for three play dates during the year.  Lovett students packed meals for over 600 residents of the area served by Agape. Sixty Middle and Upper School students traveled to destinations in the United States and across the globe during spring break mission and service trips in Cuba, Peru, and the Dominican Republic.  Lovett Upper School students hosted this spring’s FOCUS gala, a prom-like event where Lovett students escort a guest with developmental and physical disabilities.

North Atlanta High School

Milestones: The biggest change to happen at North Atlanta High School during the past year was the transition of Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to a charter school system for the 2016-2017 school year. The APS transition to a charter system will allow North Atlanta High School to have more flexibility with staffing and cluster initiatives that fit the needs of our specific community. In essence, this allows students, parents, faculty and stakeholders to have a direct hand in the governance, direction and vision of North Atlanta.

Reach Out: All students in Atlanta Public Schools need 75 community service hours to graduate.  As an International Baccalaureate school, our students are encouraged to pursue opportunities that are of interest to them.  North Atlanta makes every effort to expose students to a variety of global, national and local issues that impact their lives.  Some examples include participation in a cultural youth exchange program with Fukuoka City, Japan, national clubs and organizations that promote cultural awareness and encourage diversity and volunteering at local homeless shelters, food pantries, senior living centers and animal shelters as well as providing tutoring services for elementary and middle school students.

Sarah Smith Elementary School

Milestones: Sarah Smith’s principal announced his retirement last year.  SRS was able to find a highly-qualified candidate who had experience as an elementary school principal and was ready to take charge of one of APS’ most successful and dynamic schools.  Dr. Michael Forehand joined the SRS community as principal January 1.  He is not only well-versed in the latest elementary education standards and techniques, but also brings a joyful and positive approach to the job.  He also got settled in before the school transitions to the new “Charter” operating model being implemented across APS.  Each school has elected a group of representatives called the “Go Team,” tasked with making decisions about the strategic direction of the school and approving budget decisions.  The principal serves as a non-voting member of this local governing body and plays an enormous role in its operation.

Reach Out: As an International Baccalaureate school, Sarah Smith encourages students to be engaged global citizens who make a positive impact in their own community and in the world around them.  Each grade level manages an annual project–the first grade “Candy Gram” sale is always a favorite!  First graders learn valuable skills by sorting, labeling, and delivering the candy canes and messages to fellow students and all proceeds are donated to the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities.  Students are also invited to spend their day off on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day serving their community by collecting and packaging personal care kits for the homeless.  Sarah Smith also includes a service component in the annual International Travelers program, which immerses students in the history and culture of a foreign country and students raised $500 for La Amistad.

The Galloway School

Milestones: The school has a new high school principal.  He’s coming from Maumee Valley in Ohio where he’s been a high school principal for four years. The outgoing principal, Gordon Mathis, is transitioning to the role of head of community engagement.

Reach Out: Annually, each level in the Early Learning program (preschool through 4th grade) incorporates a service project into their curriculum. For example, first graders have a unit dedicated to pets, making dog biscuits, which they take to a local animal shelter along with much-needed blankets and towels. Middle and Upper Learning students take a week out of their regular class schedules to immerse themselves in a specific field of study and this experience always includes a service component. Student athletes and their parents and coaches provide food, work assembly lines to make sandwiches for needy neighbors.

Pace Academy

Milestones: Food was Pace Academy’s focus last year.  Teachers incorporated food issues and study into the curriculum; experts like Joel Salatin and Pulitzer Prize-winner Martha Mendoza participated in the school’s speaker series. Also, 214 students and 41 faculty members explored the world on 16 study tours. The Pace community volunteered with organizations like the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Global Growers Network and Second Helpings Atlanta; and students got their hands dirty with food-related activities like planting, composting and aquaponics.

Reach out: This summer, Upper School students travelled to Ghana and Malawi with CARE, and in March, a group will spend time in Chile as part of Pace’s sixth Habitat for Humanity International build. Pace’s student-led service program will continue to offer regular volunteer opportunities at the ACFB, AGAPE, Boys & Girls Clubs, Emmaus House, Habitat for Humanity, La Amistad, Trinity Night Shelter and Zaban Couples Center.

Springmont Montessori

Milestones: The Plus Program for students challenged by dyslexia and ADHD was added. Outdoor learning facilities were expanded to include more animal life, which had a positive effect on campus life overall, as well as character education and art programing. Ninety percent of Springmont’s Middle School students are accepted into their high school of choice.  A Book Club for parents started – with growing attendance each week.

Reach Out: Students continue to support World Water Day. Middle School students partner with the Georgia Department of Transportation through their Adopt-A-Highway program. The Middle School students also are spearheading a clothing recycling project. Each fall all students, Toddler through Middle School, help prepare food, and parent volunteers deliver it to Sandy Springs United Methodist Church before Thanksgiving break. Children also select programs for annual support in keeping with tradition, and non-profits include the Atlanta Humane Society, the American Red Cross, the Chattahoochee Nature Preserve, the World Wildlife Fund and many others.


Milestones: Westminster opened its Innovation Space in the Middle School. The 3,400-square-foot lab is dedicated to Westminster’s STEAM initiative—Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. The space is used in a variety of ways: by classes working on special projects, for STEAM electives, as practice space for the robotics team, and as a place for students to work on independent projects. The lab is equipped with flexible furniture and tools including 3-D printers, woodworking equipment, laser cutters, and sewing machines that enable students to take ideas from concept to reality.

Reach Out: This fall, students, faculty, parents, and alumni will partner with other area schools to complete the 25th collaborative home with Habitat for Humanity. Westminster will continue its “Our Daily Bread” program through the Glenn Institute, which focuses on issues of food access, heritage, sustainability, and philanthropy with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Friends of English Avenue, Truly Living Well, Open Hand and Good Samaritan. Other annual programs include Shower for the Shelters and the Reader-to-Reader book collection in the Lower School, Serving on the 7’s in the Middle School, and the Community Service Club in the Upper School.

 (Note: Many public schools and  private schools couldn’t be reached for comment at press time, but we would love to hear from you throughout the year. Email the editor at SCollins@LifestylePubs.com with updates, news and event photos.)