Better Together

News from the Clarke County School District • 5/6/22

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6)

A Message for CCSD Teachers - Teacher Appreciation Week 2022
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Ribbon-cutting for New CCSD Admin Building, Dedication of Vernon Payne Meeting Hall Held

On April 28, CCSD held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the administrative and district staff building (the newly-repurposed former Prince Avenue Baptist Church and Piedmont College building at 595 Prince Ave., Athens), which opened in January along with a dedication ceremony officially naming the board of education meeting room the Vernon Payne Meeting Hall.


The ribbon-cutting included remarks from CCSD superintendent Dr. Xernona Thomas, school board president Dr. LaKeisha Gantt, other school district officials, and Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz.


The repurposed church chapel is now named for former long-time board member Mr. Vernon Payne, who served on the board from 1979-2018. Mr. Payne’s family was in attendance for the ceremony and the unveiling of a portrait of Mr. Payne by local artist and CCSD alum Broderick Flanigan. Along with Dr. Thomas, current school board members Greg Davis and Linda Davis, former school board members Charles Worthy and Jim Warnes, and Mr. Payne’s son, Walter, all gave remarks.


See below for a full video of the dedication ceremony, and click here for more photos from the event.

Vernon Payne Meeting Hall Dedication 04/28/22
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Cedar Shoals, CMS/Hilsman Student Teams Win State, National Honors for Energy Education Projects

The Cedar Shoals Energy Education Team (CSEET) and the combined Science, Energy and Adventure Team (SEAT) from Clarke and Hilsman middle schools have both been honored with state and national awards for their energy education and conservation projects.


The Cedar Shoals student club, under the direction of teacher Brittany Blumenstock, was selected as the 2022 Georgia Senior School of the Year and National Senior School of the Year by the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project for its project, “The Three Es: Energy Education Environment.” The club focuses on environmental education and conservation in the community.


Meanwhile, the combined middle school team, under CMS teacher Audrey Hughes and Hilsman teacher Laura McGreevy, was named the 2022 Georgia Junior School of the Year and National Junior School of the Year for its project, “Preserve, Protect, & Power Through.” Hughes’ CMS students also won the national award in 2021, and the Hilsman SEAT team earned Georgia School of the Year and National School of the Year recognition in 2019 when she taught at HMS and oversaw that program. The teams at CMS and Hilsman were able to join forces this year and enter the national STEM competition as a combined unit.


Both groups have been invited to attend the NEED Youth Energy Conference and be recognized for their awards next month in Washington, D.C.

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New Early Learning Center East Opens

This week, the newly-renovated CCSD Early Learning Center East at 280 Gaines School Rd. opened, helping our district improve access to comprehensive school readiness programming for families living in and around East Athens.


Six Early Head Start classrooms are currently open, and in August the 39,100-square-foot facility will house 16 additional classrooms for Early Head Start, Head Start 3-year olds, pre-K, and preschool programming for children with special needs ranging from 2 months old to age 5.


Click here for more information on the center and how to apply for the various services offered by CCSD's Office of Early Learning.

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$10K Donation to Support Outdoor Learning Space at Stroud

Thanks to a generous donation from the Kiwanis Club of Athens and the Georgia Kiwanis District Foundation, Howard B. Stroud Elementary will be adding outdoor seating to its campus to support the school’s STEM learning program.


Representatives from the Kiwanis Club visited the school on April 21 and presented a $10,000 check. The grant for the outdoor learning laboratory will allow students to learn in a shaded area with appropriate study surfaces.


The Kiwanis Club of Athens has served the Athens-Clarke County Community since 1920 and supported Stroud and CCSD for more than a decade, helping to further Kiwanis International’s mission to improve the lives of children.

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Coile, Cedar Shoals FFA Members Win at State Agriscience Fair

A total of 14 FFA students from Coile Middle and Cedar Shoals High came home from last week’s state convention in Macon as champions after winning first place in the State Agriscience Fair.


Coile first-place finishers on individual and team projects included Grayson Oliver and Trevor Anderson; Derriana Smith and Stephanie Emegwam; Patricia Rodriguez-Gonzalez; and Katie Smith and Sylvia Brittian.


Cedar Shoals first-place finishers included Derrick Brown and Nizia Ventura Ortiz; Amelia Hembree and Delia McElhannon; Ashley Marrioquin-Gonzalez and Marilin Cruz-Morales; and Jamaica Finley.


Both schools also had multiple second- and third-place finishers. The first-place winners will compete at the national FFA convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, in October.

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Cedar Shoals Teacher, Clarke Central Student Earn ‘Exemplary’ Recognition from State

Cedar Shoals High School teacher Holly Ait and Clarke Central High School senior Daniela Delgado-Escalante were recognized recently by the Georgia Department of Education’s English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.


Ms. Ait was one of 38 teachers across the state to be named a 2022 Exemplary ESOL Teacher by GaDOE, while Daniela named one of 31 Exemplary English Learner Students in Georgia.


Read more here.

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Dual Language Immersion Program at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary Spotlighted

The University of Georgia online news service UGA Today recently spotlighted the dual language immersion (DLI) program at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary, the first and only current Spanish-English language immersion program in Athens.


This month several fifth-graders at the school will become the first group of students to graduate from the program, which they first enrolled in as kindergarten students. CCSD administrators and teachers and Professor Lou Tolosa-Casadont of UGA’s Mary Frances Early College of Education launched the program in 2015, adding two new teachers and classes at the next grade level every subsequent year. Several paraprofessionals and UGA graduate students have provided additional support for the program.


Click here to read the full story from UGA Today.

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Inaugural Georgia Possible Cohort Graduates

On April 29, CCSD celebrated the inaugural cohort of Georgia Possible students with a final leadership session and lunch at the district office.


A collaboration between UGA’s Office of the President, the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, and CCSD, Georgia Possible is a multi-year leadership and college readiness program with a mission to equip students with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to successfully transition into the postsecondary institution of their choice.


A group of seniors from Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central high schools began the program in the fall of their ninth-grade year and culminated their successful participation last week by graduating in front of the newly-selected ninth-graders. The new cohort will begin meeting periodically throughout the next school year in August.

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Updates from the Department of Community Schools

CSO Jordan Featured in Story

Tamaine Jordan, one of CCSD’s Community School Organizers (CSOs), was highlighted recently, in a story by University of Georgia journalism student and Red and Black staff member Lucinda Warnke, for his work and efforts to boost community engagement in our schools and the impact he has made on our students.


Mr. Jordan, a CCSD alum who currently serves as the CSO for Cedar Shoals High, was one of seven CSOs hired by the school district in November 2021.

'Education Matters' Conversation with Community Engagement Team Members

Last week, CCSD's Director of Community Schools, Soraia Felgenhauer, and district family and community engagement specialist Alex Borges spoke with students from the local "Education Matters" internet radio program about the district's work in family and community engagement.


Listen to the full program below.

Engagement in the Community With the Clarke County School District
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Strategic Plan Corner: Financial and Operational Effectiveness

Not only are we wrapping up the current school year, but there are only two more months until the end of CCSD’s fiscal year 2022. That means it’s the peak of budget season!


Our fifth priority of the 2021-2024 Strategic Plan is “Financial and Operational Effectiveness,” and Objective 2 is to “improve effectiveness of fiscal operations and resource allocation.” The two initiatives — ensuring equitable allocation of resources and oversight of policies and procedures – are at the forefront of our work as we finalize the FY2023 budget. We use the Resource Allocation Method/Plan (RAMP) to ensure personnel and resources are distributed equitably across our schools and programs based on student enrollment.


Learn more about CCSD’s Department of Finance and Business Services here.

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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

Did you know that more than 1 million schoolchildren receive treatment services for speech and language disorders each year? Speech and language services are available to eligible children in public schools under federal law as part of special education, and at CCSD, our speech-language pathology (SLP) team works to prevent, assess, and treat a wide variety of speech, language, and social communication disorders.


In recognition of Better Hearing and Speech Month, please take a moment to show appreciation to the SLPs who work in our schools and help make us Better Together. Click here for contact for information for our school-level SLPs.

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Athens Community Career Academy Opportunities

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How to Address Questions, Concerns

Have a question or concern that you'd like to address? CCSD has put together a matrix of who to reach out to depending on the situation.


Please click here to view this information. You can also go to CCSD's main site at clarke.k12.ga.us, go to the "I Want To" tab at the top of the page, and select “Ask a Question/Submit a Concern.”

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Board of Education News

The Clarke County Board of Education welcomes community feedback. Here are ways you can share your voice:

  • Contact BOE Members: Click here to view a list of the BOE members and their contact information.
  • Attend a Meeting: Next regular meeting is Thursday, May 12, at 6 p.m. (in-person and broadcast on the CCSD YouTube channel).
  • Board Briefs: Click to read the "Board Briefs" overview from meetings.
  • Public Comments: Click here for information on how to sign-up to speak at a regular BOE meeting.
  • Review Policies for Review: View and comment on district policies pending public review.
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CCSD COVID-19 Testing Clinics

CCSD is providing free COVID-19 testing clinics for students and staff. Clinics will be held in schools across the district. Rapid antigen tests (results in 15 minutes) and PCR tests (results in 24-48 hours) will be available. No appointment is necessary, but registration is required.


Testing Clinic Information

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Museum of Art to Host Family Day Event

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will host "Family Day: Technologies of Nature" from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 21.


Click here for more information. The museum is located at 90 Carlton St., Athens.

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Volunteers Sought for AthFest

Local nonprofit AthFest Educates is seeking volunteers for its 2022 AthFest Music & Arts Festival, June 24-26.


Proceeds from the festival make it possible for AthFest Educates to award grants to support K-12 music and arts education in our community. To date, AthFest Educates has awarded over $532,000 in grants to CCSD schools and local non-profit programs. Volunteer shifts are generally four hours long and include a volunteer T-shirt, free parking during your volunteer shift, and snacks during your volunteer shift.


Learn more and register to volunteer here.

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