CSD District Dispatch

District news from around CSD: October 2019 edition

The City Schools of Decatur District Dispatch provides parents, students, and staff with the latest news from around the district each month.

To view a mobile-friendly version of this newsletter, please visit https://www.smore.com/3czge.

Table of Contents:

  • Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports Update
  • Board Spotlight: Glennwood Elementary
  • Equity Spotlight: Renfroe Middle School
  • Board Meeting Information
  • Happy Custodial Workers Appreciation Day!
  • On the Superintendent's Desk
  • DHS Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Renfroe 8th Graders Teach Yoga to College Heights Pre-K Students
  • Glennwood's New Boys in Action After School Club
  • Westchester Celebrates the Refurbishment of their Iconic School Sign
  • Renfroe's 7th grade Team Building at McKoy Park

  • Winnona Park's Open Forum: Empathy Based Communication

  • Oakhurst's Health & Wellness Day

  • Student Athlete Spotlight

  • Join the CSD Team!

  • Welcome Maima Simmons, CSD's Literacy & MTSS Coordinator
  • Welcome to Madison Bobbitt, CSD's new Social Worker
  • School Board Chair Lewis Jones named to the Board of GPEE
  • Information Services Advisory Council
  • School Bus Safety Training
  • Traffic Update: Scott Blvd Pedestrian Beacon Installation
  • Decatur Farm to School Fall Taste Tests: October 24 & 25, 2019
  • Upcoming Important District Dates
  • Administrative Regulations Feedback Needed

Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports Update

PBIS Mission

CSD is utilizing the PBIS Framework to implement a comprehensive and cohesive adult and student behavior system to promote equity and foster a school culture grounded in social emotional learning and social justice in all schools. Together Decatur CREATES Leaders!

PBIS Vision

Caring: We show empathy, compassion, and respect so we all feel physically and emotionally safe.

Reflective: We honor our need to stop and think, make connections, and use our strengths to grow as a learner and person.

Engaged: We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning through perseverance, collaboration, and craftsmanship.

Altruistic: We do good things for others to help make the world a just and better place.

Thoughtful: We pause to think critically and creatively to make sense of the world and respond positively in learning situations and interactions.

Exceptional: We approach each day with an attitude of excellence balancing our responsibility to self and others.

Scholars: We collaborate locally and globally to discover and engage in learning that is personal, meaningful, and authentic.

PBIS Implementation

You might be wondering why PBIS?

PBIS is a researched-based framework that has shown that:

  • through intentional planning,
  • setting clear expectations, and,
  • providing support structures for students and teachers,
behaviors that interfere with learning are reduced and that the school's culture and climate are positively impacted.

You might be wondering what is PBIS?

PBIS is a framework, not a packaged program, that provides a structure and method for school teams to examine behavior data and trends in their school. Teams then work with their staff and students to mitigate the most problematic behaviors through intentional teaching and support structures. The work is ongoing and evolves as the needs of the school change. One of the first tangible actions teachers, students, and families will see is called the School Wide Behavior Matrix. This is a chart that clearly communicates behavior expectations for specific locations in the school that aligns with the school's mission and values. Teams are currently working to develop this matrix and each school's matrix will be unique, aligned to our district's vision, and set the foundation for proactively teaching students expected behaviors.

Where are we now with implementing PBIS?

We have completed the Exploration/Adoption step and are now in Installation. We have established school teams and are currently training school teams and PBIS coaches to lead the implementation work and manage the data system. The work we are doing with PBIS strongly aligns with other district initiatives and practices. For example, CSD has a new Student Code of Conduct and Restorative Practices Handbook that supports PBIS Implementation. School administrators and teachers are learning about and implementing Restorative Practices such as Restorative Conferences and Restorative Circles. In addition to learning how to implement PBIS in their schools, school teams will participate in ongoing professional learning to further enhance the school's culture and climate to make each school a safe place to learn and work.

Where can I learn more about PBIS?

Georgia Department of Education - PBIS website or https://www.pbis.org/

*Fair Warning* If you google PBIS, you are liable to stumble upon individual school PBIS programs that might be misleading. PBIS is a framework that promotes school autonomy with implementation strategies and practices.

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Board Spotlight: Glennwood Elementary

At the school board meeting each month, a different school's accomplishments are highlighted and celebrated. These have been anything from a recorder performance by 3rd grade, sharing about their celebrations of learning, or high school students sharing their trip to Japan. As we highlight #OurKids' accomplishments, we will share these with you here.

School Spotlight at the October 1 Board Meeting: Glennwood Elementary

As part of the “Art In School” Project, Besharat Arts Foundation has displayed 110 photographs throughout Glennwood Elementary. The photos were taken by National Geographic photographer, Steve McCurry, best known for the Iconic Afghan Girl photo. They are from the collection called “Faces of Innocence”. The foundation launched the project on the premise that similarities bring people closer together but superficial differences can create a sense of fear and threat thus causing conflict. The project seeks to promote sympathy and empathy through daily contact with art that presents similarities and differences amongst children.

Dr. Kristy Beam, Principal of Glennwood Elementary explained, "Glennwood's purpose in participating in the project is for our students to develop a sense of connectedness towards children with cultural, racial, or ethnic differences. Children and families in our school are having conversations around the photos, showing interest, and curiosity. We have several projects planned to engage the children in research about the countries and practices depicted."

To start the year, Glennwood's second grade teachers asked students to choose a photo with which they felt a connection and write about their feelings. Seven of these students came to the board meeting to share their feelings about these moving photographs.

Below are three examples out of the seven Glennwood Second Grade student's quotes shared at the board meeting. Photos by Steve McCurry and donated by Besharat Gallery.

Board Equity Spotlight: Renfroe Middle School's Equity Professional Learning Opportunities

The Equity Team for Renfroe Middle School(RMS) shared with the Board their plan for professional learning(PL) and their experience with their first PL, which focused on Restorative Practices.

Restorative practices are processes that proactively build healthy relationships and a sense of community to prevent and address conflict and wrongdoing. Restorative practices are increasingly being applied in individual schools and school districts to address youth behavior and to improve school climate and culture. Restorative practices can improve relationships between students as well as between educators, whose behavior often serves as a role model for students.

Principal Greg Wiseman shared that this was the first of eight Equity PL opportunities for the RMS staff scheduled throughout the year.

Board Meeting Information

Did you know all the board meetings for this upcoming year are listed on the district's calendar webpage, https://www.csdecatur.net/calendar? The next board meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12, 2019.

These regular monthly Board Meetings, often on the second Tuesday of the month, are held at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the Wilson School Support Center at Beacon Hill, 125 Electric Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030. Also, the Board agenda can be found on our Board Meetings webpage at www.csdecatur.net/Board prior to each board meeting. For more about what was discussed at the October 1 board meeting, please view our Board of Education Meeting Video Library here.

Happy Custodial Staff Recognition Day!

Did you know that Wednesday, October 2, was Custodial Staff Recognition Day? We want to send a big shout out and thanks to all our wonderful CSD custodial staff! Schools around the district celebrated our staff and thanked them for their work which keeps our schools running cleanly, safely, and smoothly every day. On behalf of all of CSD, thank you for all you do!

Pictured below are Sharon Jackson, Gloria Alexander and Carlos Williams from Clairemont; Bessie Hall, Desha "Shay" Jackson, and Gary Ragland from College Heights; and Cynthia Harris and Harold Seals from Glennwood all of whom were honored at their school yesterday with treats, shout outs, cards, and more.
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On the Superintendent's Desk...

The Georgia State Study of the Senior Homestead Exemption

The Board received a study from GSU before the October meeting but did not have time to review it prior to the meeting. The Board plans to discuss the study at the next regular meeting on November 12.

As a quick overview, here is the conclusion pulled from the study:
In summary, this analysis provides evidence that the 65 and over full homestead exemption introduced in November of 2016, did not change the buying or selling behavior of those that would qualify for the exemption in the city of Decatur. Nor did it alter the growth in enrollments in CSD that has been ongoing since 2010. Rather, the policy incentivized the older residents that had not previously filed for an age-based property tax exemption to file for one. This shift from other homestead exemptions to the 65 and over full homestead exemption can account for much of the unexpected loss in revenues due to the 65 and over policy change.

The full report can be found on our homepage under CSD news.

Calendar Reminders:
  • Monday, October 14, 2019 and Tuesday, November 5, 2019 are Teacher Works Days with no school for students.
  • The last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year has changed- it is now Friday, May 29, 2020.

Decatur High School 2019 Graduation Rate

The Georgia Department of Education recently released the 2019 graduation rates and City Schools of Decatur’s rate is 95%! Congratulations to all the students and staff on this tremendous achievement.

Renfroe 8th Graders Teach Yoga to College Heights Pre-K Students

In a wonderful story of CSD school collaboration, Refroe Middle School 8th graders from Ms. Coleman's yoga class visited College Height's Early Childhood Learning Center to teach yoga to some of the Pre-K students. Ms. Coleman's class is working on teaching yoga and being of service to others. These kind and patient 8th graders seemed to really enjoy working with this group of 4 and 5 year olds. The 8th graders even created the yoga lessons based on poses they believed the little ones would like. The eighth graders are planning to visit again to continue the lessons with more of the College Heights Pre-K students.

Glennwood's New Boys In Action After School Club

Boys in Action is a new after school club to give our black male students an opportunity for personal growth. The club is led by Michael Scott and Jonathan Holloman, both African-American paraprofessionals at Glennwood, who have a strong passion for this work and also a natural gift for working with children. Students who belong to this club will participate in activities focused on building and affirming: leadership skills, confidence, friendships, and a sense of belonging and empowerment. Boys in Action rock!

At their recent meeting before Fall break, Boys in Action created Kindness Kits as a community service project for people in need. They filled gallon Ziploc bags with socks, deodorant, soap, water, hand sanitizer, travel toothbrush kit, Vienna sausages, and a little bit of kindness. The Boys in Action believe that these Kindness Kits will be a bright spot in someone’s life who is in need. The club plans to make Kindness Kits again on a much bigger scale later in the school year.

Westchester Celebrates Refurbishment of Iconic School Sign

The Westchester PTA Board and Principal Rochelle Lofstrand held a dedication ceremony for the school’s iconic school sign at their September school-wide picnic and book fair on Saturday, September 14. The sign restoration was completed in a way that preserved its original design while restoring it to its now fully-functional, lighted capacity. The classic Westchester logo and letters are a true landmark for our great city that thousands of metro Atlantans have grown to know and love while traveling into and out of the city on Scott Boulevard. After the ribbon-cutting, students planted flowers around the sign and painted commemorative rocks to celebrate the event.

On hand for the ceremony were Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett, Mayor Pro-Tem Tony Powers, CSD School Board Members Garrett Goebel and Heather Tell; and Executive Director of Schools, Dr. Maggie Fehrman.

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Renfroe's 7th Grade Team Building at McCoy Park

Renfroe's 7th grade students had an exciting opportunity for team building at McCoy park in mid-September. The entire grade, grouped by their team colors, took part in this team building exercise with challenges that pushed them to cooperate and collaborate to accomplish their goals. This is the first in a series of intentional lessons addressing affective skills. Renfroe partnered with Atlanta Challenge to provide these team based challenges aimed at building the community classroom and grade culture.

Pictured below are some of the activities the students engaged in to help build a positive team culture.

Winnona Park's Open Forum: Empathy Based Communication

In September, the WP PTA Diversity Committee presented an open forum about Empathy Based Communication, specifically "How to Have Hard Conversations". The guest speaker was Kristin Moody, an expert in transformational practices of empathy who works with institutions as well as individuals to help them incorporate more practices of empathy into their lives. Parents and staff that participated in this forum walked away with practical tools for implementing empathy practices in tough conversations and situations. These tools could be used with children, spouses, colleagues, neighbors, and community. To learn more, visit www.evolvenetwork.me.

Pictured below: Kristin Moody presenting Empathy Based Communication to Winnona Park parents.
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Oakhurst's Health & Wellness Day

Oakhurst Elementary's annual Health & Wellness Day takes place on Friday, October 11, 2019. This fun, fast-paced event consists of six stations around the school hosted by local businesses and organizations. Classes visit each station for a mini health and wellness lesson/presentation. The presentations will include: fire safety, dental health, healthy eating, fitness/exercise, and helmet safety.

This year, we are excited to welcome the following station hosts:

  • FitWit
  • Strong4Life (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta)
  • City of Decatur Fire Department
  • Wylde Center
  • Morningside Pediatric Dentistry
  • ThinkFirst (National Injury Prevention Foundation)

Thank you to our community partners for helping to make this a great event for #ourkids!

School Board Chair Lewis Jones joins the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

CSD School Board Chair Lewis Jones has been named to the board of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education(GPEE). Founded in 1992 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the GPEE is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working tirelessly to improve student achievement and workforce development in Georgia. The mission of the Georgia Partnership is to inform and influence Georgia leaders for the improvement of student achievement. They accomplish their mission through research and non-partisan advocacy to impact education policies and practices. We congratulate Mr. Jones on this prestigious new role.

Welcome Maima Simmons, CSD's Literacy and MTSS Coordinator

Greetings! I am Maima Simmons, the new District Literacy and MTSS Coordinator for the City Schools of Decatur. The goal of the Curriculum and Instruction Department is to cultivate and nurture extraordinary, critical thinkers who are ethical and inspired to make the world a better place. Our department works towards this goal by focusing on what we teach (the curriculum) and how we teach it (the instruction). For more information about the Curriculum and Instruction Department, please click here.

As the District Literacy & MTSS Coordinator, I work collaboratively with CSD educators to: 1) implement a cohesive and balanced literacy program throughout the district (Birth to Grade 12) through training, coaching, supporting, and guiding teachers in best practices for literacy instruction and 2) implement the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) in the birth to grade 5 schools in our district. Across both programs, there is a strong focus on data-driven decision making and promoting consistency across our schools to support positive teaching and learning outcomes.

As the District Literacy Coordinator, my primary work for this school year involves leading program evaluation for our literacy curriculum and supporting implementation of literacy instructional practices that ensure a focus on reading growth for all students.

As the MTSS Coordinator for birth to grade 5, my primary work involves supporting strong implementation of our multi-tiered system of supports by providing professional learning and coaching for the school-based MTSS Leads. My colleague, Dr. Madge Willis, provides the MTSS support to MTSS Leads for RMS and DHS (Grades 6 to 12).

Welcome to Madison Bobbitt , CSD's New Social Worker

My name is Madison Bobbitt. I received my Masters in Social Work from Kennesaw State University. I am incredibly passionate about the field of Social Work, specifically School Social Work. I completed my clinical internship with Cobb County Schools where I was a School Social Worker at five schools, ranging from primary school to high school. Most recently, I worked as a Medical Social Worker for Grady Hospital. I am so excited to be back in the schools and I am honored to be your new School Social Worker here at City Schools of Decatur.

Student Athlete Spotlight: Camilla Schneider

Do you know Camilla Schneigher? Camilla is a senior this year on the Decatur softball team, she is a prime example of an all around team player. Camilla started the season as an outfielder which has been her primary position for all her high school years. Due to some injuries on the team, positions had to be rearranged. Camilla stepped up and did whatever was asked of her. She worked so hard to perform her best as an infielder and it has paid off. Not only has she been a solid defensive player, she has been one of our top offensive players. She holds a batting average of .308 and a slugging percentage of .538 throughout the season and always makes adjustments when necessary. In the region playoff game versus Riverwood, she hit her first homerun of the season, in an intense situation with the bases loaded. She focuses on the job at hand and stays positive no matter what. She will be the first one to give words of encouragement to a teammate who is struggling and will always have a smile on her face.

Decatur Bulldogs Varsity Football's Winning Season!
DHS Bulldogs Varsity Football team is having a winning season with a 4-1 record. Want to cheer them on at their next game? The bulldogs play at home at 7:30 pm, this Friday night, October 4, 2019.

Sports Calendar:
Be sure to root them on or any of our other amazing teams, like softball, soccer or basketball, at their next games. The full calendar of all DHS Athletic games and meets is listed on the right hand column of the Decatur Bulldog Boosters page here https://decaturbulldogboosters.org/.

Join the CSD Team!

CSD has new opportunities available for community coaches. While these are mainly volunteer activities, the district does offer a moderate stipend for the investment of your time.
The following are currently available: Golf Coach, JV Baseball Coach, and Robotics Coach.

CSD is also looking for a district Behavior Support Specialist. For more information on these positions or any other open positions at CSD, visit https://www.csdecatur.net/Openpositions.

Information Services Advisory Council

The Information Services (IS) department is reconstituting its Advisory Council. The IS Department provides technology leadership, equipment, and support to City Schools of Decatur. They are stewards of enterprise systems that support staff and student safety, efficiency, and innovation. The IS Advisory Council provides input on feature and service requests, identifies possible program evaluation measures and staff training needs, and acts as a conduit to provide feedback to the IS Department. It is not a governance or decision-making body.

The IS Advisory Council is looking for staff, parents, students, and community members. If you would like additional information and might be interested in participating, please visit https://forms.gle/Q8K185HvfitcgP3e8.

School Bus Safety Training Coming to a CSD School Near You!

Did you know our Transportation Department visits all CSD schools during the month of October to discuss Bus safety?

The Transportation Department focuses on teaching students to BARC: Be Aware, Ready, Cautious in and around their school bus loading and unloading areas.

Students will review all safety procedures including bus emergency evacuation procedures and procedures for railroad crossings. After the students go through the course, they have a Q&A with BARC, CSD's own mechanical schoolbus. These procedures not only help students who are daily bus riders but also students who take the bus for school field trips.

If you have questions on this bus safety information session, feel free to contact LoWanda Bowman-Brown, CSD's Director of Transportation, at (470)-237-0368 ext. 7602 or lbowman@csdecatur.net.

Traffic Update: Scott Boulevard Pedestrian Beacon Installation

(This story is reprinted from the Decatur Makeover website.)

The City will begin construction and installation of the Scott Boulevard Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) at Westchester Elementary.

Requiring vehicles to stop in both directions, a PHB is a pedestrian-activated traffic signal for those crossing the street at a midblock location rather than at an intersection. Once installed, it will contribute to the long-pursued goal of an improved safe route for students and others in proximity to the school. Vehicular and pedestrian access will be maintained throughout the project, which is set to be completed this fall.

For more information about this traffic signal installation, please visit http://www.decaturmakeover.com/status-updates/scott-boulevard-pedestrian-beacon-installation-begins-week/.

Decatur Farm to School Fall Taste Tests: October 24- 25, 2019

(This story is reprinted from the DF2S facebook page.)

The Fall Decatur Farm to School taste tests are coming to the City Schools of Decatur on October 24 and 25. Sign up today to help us fill the 74 spots for volunteers we are going to need to make this taste test a success!

Volunteers hand out samples of the taste test vegetable (green beans) and then collect feedback from the students via a survey. It's fun!! And a great hands-on way to get involved with Farm to School in Decatur. Get ready, get set, sign up! https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0C45AAAB2BA31-green

Upcoming District Dates

Fall 2019 PTO/PTA/PTSA Events:
Glennwood's Annual Fall Carnival: Sunday, October 20 from 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Clairemont's Decatur Holiday Marketplace and Cafe': Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14
Winnona Park Holiday Tree and Candle Sale: Saturday, December 7

Other Upcoming CSD-related events:
DHS Homecoming Week: October 21-26, 2019

Decatur Farm to School Taste Tests: October 24 -25, 2019

Almost, Maine by DHS Performs!

October 11- 20, 2019
Decatur Performing Arts Center
You can find out more information about DHS performs at www.decaturperforms.org.

Upcoming Appreciation Days:

October 21-25, 2019: Bus Safety Appreciation Week
October is National Bullying Prevention Month and National Principals Month.

New Property of CSD Signs at Schools Around the District

You may have noticed that over fall break, the City Schools of Decatur installed new signs to replace the existing signs on our school properties. The goal of these new signs is to reinforce the existing rules and guidelines for the use of our property. The use request statement on the signs is intended for groups using our properties for organized events and activities and all visitors during school hours. Organized use of school property, such as a soccer club or planned group events, must be authorized through a facility use agreement with City Schools of Decatur prior to the meeting or event. School grounds, such as playgrounds and fields, are still available for drop-in use by individual community members and families outside school hours and scheduled events. Organizations that have been given authorization through our facility use agreement will have priority on the space.

No changes have been made to the district's long-standing facilities use policies and practices. We continue to support the use of school greenspace by our neighbors and have simply posted these reminders about the responsible use of district facilities. For more information about the facility use process, please contact Noel Maloof at nmaloof@csdecatur.net.

Administrative Regulations Feedback

We are continuing to create, review, and accept feedback on the Administrative Regulations(ARs) that help govern our schools. We would like the public's input on these ARs during step three of the process outlined here https://www.csdecatur.net/adminregs.

Administrative Regulations Currently under Review:
You can see the ARs that are under consideration as well as the current ARs in place, by visiting the bottom of this page, https://www.csdecatur.net/adminregs.

Again, we value your input and we hope you will use this opportunity to voice your views on the ARs as they come up.

City Schools of Decatur

If you would like to submit some good news, a shout out or a student or staff recognition, please feel free to submit it here or by emailing Sarah Jones, Communications and PR specialist, at sjones1@csdecatur.net. Also we love photos! Please share your photos with us and we will share them with the district here and on CSD’s social media pages. You can also tag us in your photos once you've liked our page!