The FAST Flyer

The View from Above, Vol. 5 Issue 3

August 20, 2022

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PRINCIPAL'S PERSPECTIVE

Welcome Our Newest Staff Members

We are delighted to welcome our new fifth grade teacher, Ms. Lori Casal! Ms. Casal will be joining us officially on Tuesday, August 23rd. Please check your email (Friday, August 19th) for more information about her and her new class.


We are also delighted to welcome our new Coding Teacher, Mr. Billy Joe Spearman. Mr. Spearman will be starting with us officially on Monday, August 22nd.

What's New

Based on parent feedback, we have added more recess time to our schedule! Students have a recess break in the morning and afternoon, and lunchtime is thirty minutes!

In case you missed this…

Dear FAST Families,


Thank you for entrusting us with your children and for your ongoing support. I appreciate the kind words and encouragement from many of you. I recognize that we’ve had a rough start to this school year, but please know that we are working diligently to address issues and challenges to ensure our students have the best education that FAST can provide.


I would like to update you on some high priority topics, including the proposed resolutions and timeline of these four areas as we move forward into the new school year.


Scheduling


Priority 1: Being an innovative school, our goal was to create a block schedule to provide our students with 90 minutes of instruction time per core subject including innovation, Genius Hour, project-based learning, and STEM. We worked diligently throughout the summer to create a schedule that would allow these large blocks of time. After our first run of the schedule last week, we discovered that block scheduling would not work at FAST as we had hoped. Our school is unique in that we provide a true version of personalized learning for students. We have many students who are advanced, accelerated, and double accelerated in their learning modes. Our schedule must accommodate the needs of all students, and block scheduling with our current resources did not allow for this personalized learning.


Resolution: To resolve this, we are working to revert to the previous schedule model of 55 minute periods for core and special subjects. To assure we maintain the integrity of innovation and Genius Hour, teachers will be able to facilitate innovation across the curriculum, as well as allow time for Genius Hour. As with any start of a new year, there will be some scheduling changes for specific students.


Timeline: Today is our 6th day of instruction. By week’s end, all scheduling should be completed. We are also aware of issues with student data in Infinite Campus and we are working with Fulton County to resolve them.


Staffing


Priority 2: As many of you know, there is a nation-wide teacher shortage. FAST is no exception when it comes to challenges in filling teaching positions. According to the National Labor Statistics Bureau, 300,000 teachers have left the field between February 2020 and May 2022. In addition, there are fewer college students entering the teaching profession. This means we have a much smaller pool of teachers to recruit from.


Neighboring districts like Cobb County and Atlanta City Schools are in a position to offer huge salary increases and signing bonuses. Our budget at FAST does not support those same types of allocations. This further adds to hiring challenges at FAST.


Despite the current state of the profession, FAST continues to seek highly qualified candidates for all positions.


Resolution: There is not a quick fix to resolving our teacher shortage. However, we are working with colleges and universities to recruit pre-service teachers, and we are working on retention incentives for our current staff that include culture and climate initiatives. Our goal is to increase morale, minimizing the number of future vacancies.


Timeline: We are actively recruiting teachers. Vacancies are posted on multiple sites daily. We continue to interview candidates weekly and will until we are fully staffed.


Certification


Priority 3: Because FAST is a Charter School, we have flexibility in hiring our staff. While we are allowed to hire teachers with degrees who are not certified, we have only actively hired those who are either already certified in another state, are preparing to take the GACE for Georgia certification, or are in a certification preparation program (like GATAPP.)


Resolution: We are working with all of our teachers who don’t currently hold Georgia certification to become certified in Georgia.


Timeline: Taking the GACE certification assessment is scheduled periodically throughout the year, and our teachers are actively signing up for this assessment. We also have teachers who have recently enrolled in a GATAPP certification program and some who have recently applied and been accepted. Our teachers with out-of-state certification are in the process of transferring their certification to Georgia.


Talented and Gifted (TAG)


Priority 4: FAST has a large number of students in the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program. Per state guidelines, TAG classes must be facilitated by a TAG certified teacher. FAST has supported many teachers through obtaining TAG certification in the past. At the end of the last school year, we lost nine TAG certified teachers.


Resolution: The lack of TAG teachers led to shifting our elementary TAG model to the state standard of a full-day pull out for TAG. This allows for all TAG students to be instructed by a TAG certified teacher. Our TAG middle school students will still be served in TAG Science and TAG Social Studies classes. We are supporting all FAST teachers towards obtaining TAG certification.


Timeline: The TAG Endorsement is a year long rigorous course, and we support all teachers who volunteer to apply for the endorsement.


If you have any questions, comments or concerns about this update, please feel free to reach out to me.


Thank you again for your patience and support. We look forward to a great school year!


My Kindest Regards,

Dr. Kay Williams

Our vision: To be recognized as a premier STEM school that creates and nurtures the next generation of innovators, problem solvers, and leaders.

HAPPENINGS

Parent Cafe

This month’s Parent Cafe will be held on Tuesday, August 23 at 6pm. Parents are invited to attend either in-person at FAST or via Zoom. Dr. Williams will be addressing questions that were raised during the recent Governing Board meeting as well as other hot topics. If there are specific questions you would like answered or topics you would like discussed, please let us know by completing this form by no later than Monday, August 22.

Curriculum Night

Curriculum night is scheduled for August 30-September 1 from 6pm-8pm. This event will be held virtually. Join your students’ teachers to hear about what is planned for the year. For parents of middle school students, you will follow your student’s schedule to meet with all subject area teachers. Please keep an eye out for further details on how to join the meetings.

Bus Updates

Unfortunately, we are back to having only one bus driver to run both of our bus routes. For those students who ride the bus, please see the schedule below. Our 12:30pm dismissal time on Fridays is allowing for a second bus driver for that run only. We will make every effort to contact you if the bus is running late; however, once the bus leaves FAST, we may not be aware of delays due to traffic. Please be sure that we have accurate contact information for you by updating Infinite Campus.
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Contact Information

We have heard from several parents that they are not receiving our texts and/or emails. We utilize the FCS mass communication system which is populated from Infinite Campus. If your email address or phone number in Infinite Campus is not correct, you must update it there. Any updates we make directly in the communication system will be overwritten by what is in Infinite Campus. Please also note that if you click the option to “unsubscribe” from our newsletter or “stop” to opt out of text messages then you will not receive any of our communications.

We are also aware that for many parents (particularly Gmail users) emails are going to their spam folder. We are sending texts to alert you to emails so you won’t miss them, but it is helpful if you add the sender address to your contacts and mark it as “not spam.”

Lunch

Yay Lunch will be our new lunch vendor by September 12. Until they begin, all of our students will need to bring lunch every day. Click HERE for FAQs from Yay Lunch. We hope to provide a short term option before Yay Lunch starts, but please plan to pack lunch to start the year.


If you think you are eligible for a free or reduced lunch, please contact ron.rhodes@fastk8.org. This is a confidential matter.

Enrichment Clubs

The schedule for enrichment clubs including how to sign up for them will be posted on our website by Monday. Clubs will start the week of August 29.

REMINDERS


  • Students must bring lunch every day until YAY Lunch starts on September 12.

  • School starts at 7:40am and dismisses at 3:20pm Monday-Thursday. Dismissal is at 12:30pm on Fridays.

  • Morning carpool begins at 7:05am. All students must be in their seats by 7:40am or they will be marked tardy. Please allow for enough time to get through the carpool line.

  • For afternoon carpool, please do not arrive on campus prior to 3:10pm. Families who have been issued a FAST Pass should not arrive until after 3:20pm to allow for the buses to pull out. The same procedure is to be followed on Friday for 12:30 dismissals.

  • FAST is a nut free school. Please do not send any nut products to school.

  • Students may not be dropped off or picked up on the street around school.

  • No one coming to FAST should park across the street at the church.

  • Students who walk home must have written permission on file with the school.

  • All students should be in uniform every day. For those who are waiting for uniforms to arrive, please have your students wear solid color polo in school colors until they arrive.

  • Schedule change requests should go through the assistant principal. Note that schedule updates are actively being worked on so if you have already requested a change please be patient. Please contact mary.miller@fastk8.org for elementary school or demetria.walker@fastk8.org for middle school requests.

  • We are following CDC guidelines with respect to Covid protocols for exposures and illness. Contact Nurse Murray at victoria.murray@fastk8.org for further guidance or to report illness.
A printable version of the school calendar can be found HERE

THE LATEST FROM FULTON COUNTY SCHOOLS

To keep up to date with the most recent information available from our district offices, please click on the image below.
The FAST Flyer is the electronic newsletter at FAST. Feedback is always welcome. If you have any questions, please call the school (678-321-1100) or email the FAST Communications Director at marie.emerson@fastk8.org.