CSD District Dispatch

District news from around CSD: November 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/jfk3h.

Table of Contents:

-Board Spotlight: Teachers of the Year
-Equity Board Spotlight: Winnona Park Empathy

-Board Meeting Information

-On the Superintendent's Des: Senior Homestead Exemption

-Jana Johnson-Davis Sworn in at the November 12 Board Meeting

-The Wilson School Support Center Dedication and Reception

-News from the Wilson School Support Center

-School News You Can Use

-Photos from Around The District

-Upcoming Dates

Board Spotlight: CSD District Teacher of the Year Ayoka Shakir

At the November 12 Board meeting, Ayoka Shakir was announced the CSD District Teacher of the Year. Ms. Shakir, an English teacher for grades 9-12, has been teaching at Decatur High School for 20 years.


Ms. Shakir said, “The students I am able to teach are what I love most about teaching. My job is never boring due to the variety of kids that I come in contact with every day. They are full of personality and humor and they always keep me on my toes. During the past twenty years, my kids have taught me about sports, bird watching, cosplay, rock climbing, new lingo, popular dances, and so much more. They fill my heart with joy and make me want to give them the best experience that I possibly can every day in class.”


One colleagues added, “Ayoka’s name comes up every time when we ask our students to name a teacher that they feel supports them at DHS. She connects with each and every student in a very personal way. She is the definition of a caring adult in the building. Her room is full of students after school — and not because they need to be there but because they want to be.”


Ms. Shakir has been a leader in the district's work of advancing racial equity as a member of both the District Equity Team and the DHS Equity Team. Ayoka is involved in many activities at DHS and is a member of ABCD - the faculty band that performs at the annual Rock and Roll Revue.


When not at DHS, she is baking, reading, hiking, being a Prince fan, FaceTiming with family, and sharing a good meal with friends. She is an aunt to three, godmother to five, and school mom to many. Congratulations, Ayoka!


In addition to the District Teacher of the Year, we are excited to announce the Teachers of the Year from each school. These teachers were selected by a peer-reviewed committee, from a competitive pool of teacher candidates. Congratulations to all nine of these amazing teachers!

(Please note: Since this is Talley Street's first year, they will be an observer in this process which is the standard practice we have used for years when new schools open.)

A special thanks to the Decatur Education Foundation (DEF) for their financial gift to each of the nine Teachers of the Year. This gift was presented to all nine Teachers of the Year along with flower arrangements and glass awards. Thank you to all the amazing CSD teachers who make a difference in their students lives!

The 2019-2020 Teachers of the Year

Board Equity Spotlight: Winonna Park Empathy

Principal Ruth Scott presented Winnona Park's Empathy and Equity Board Spotlight at the November 12 Board Meeting. She distinguished between empathy and sympathy and explained how Winnona Park teaches their K-2 children to choose empathy daily through Morning Crew Meetings and Restorative Practices. They also added Empathy to their EL Habits of Character, which they focus on throughout the school. For instance, they read books that help inspire more empathy and then discuss the empathy shown in these books. To grow empathy with parents and community, they are working with the PTA's Diversity and Inclusion committee to host discussions about difficult issues to help the community grow. This year they hosted an open forum on empathy facilitated by 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. They have also hosted three Peace and Pie community dinners that facilitate small-group discussions about racism, with the goal to help break down barriers within the school community. Principal Scott also hosts regular Coffee Chats to share information with parents and allow time for parents to ask questions in an attempt to help grow understanding and transparency.

To build empathy with the teachers and staff, they have utilized the skills they learned in the Courageous Conversations About Race diversity training, and the corresponding book, to help grow the staff's understanding and empathy of how their students might feel and to evaluate their curriculum and any bias it might show.

To see Winnona Park's full empathy presentation, please click here.

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, December 10, 2019.


These 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 meeting. For more about what was discussed at previous Board Meetings, please view our Board of Education Meeting Video Library.

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Wilson School Support Center Dedication

The City Schools of Decatur held the dedication ceremony of the Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center on Tuesday, November 12, prior to that evening's Board Meeting. TWe officially dedicated the building in acknowledgement of the many accomplishments and years of civil service of Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson, who served as a pillar of the Beacon Hill community, as a Decatur City Commissioner, and as the Mayor of Decatur. School Board Members, City Commissioners, and friends and neighbors of Mayor Wilson attended the event. Superintendent Dr. David Dude gave introductory remarks and presented the plaque which will be placed on the Wilson Center's wall facing the Ebster courtyard. Mayor Wilson then made remarks about the history of her family in Decatur and the school system. As a special treat, refreshments were prepared and provided by Decatur High School Culinary Arts students. Thank you to all who were in attendance.

Jana Johnson-Davis Sworn In

Newly elected School Board Member Jana Johnson-Davis was sworn in at the beginning of the November 12 Board Meeting. Robert Wilson, an attorney for City Schools of Decatur, introduced the Honorable Rhathelia Stroud, DeKalb County Magistrate and Chief Judge of the City of Decatur Municipal Court, who then administered the Oath of Office. Ms. Johnson-Davis immediately took her seat on the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education.


Ms. Johnson-Davis retired from Renfroe Middle School last year, where she taught for eight years. While at Renfroe, she served on the SLT as well as the school's Equity Team. She is also the 2014 recipient of Renfroe’s Woman of the Year Award. She is a founding member of the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights. The organization is headed up by her husband, attorney Mawuli Davis, and works to address racial inequality in City Schools of Decatur. Ms. Johnson-Davis lives in Decatur with her husband, and two sons, who are both graduates of Decatur High School. She’s served the Decatur community and schools since moving to the neighborhood six years ago, volunteering thousands of hours in the community and classroom. Additionally, Jana proposed, developed, and taught the school system’s first social justice themed design cycle class.


Ms. Johnson-Davis will serve out the two remaining years of At-Large School Board Member Annie Caiola's term. James Herndon was elected last week to represent District 1. Incumbent School Board Member Tasha White was re-elected last week to represent District 2. Both Mr. Herndon and Ms. White will be will be sworn in this January and will serve four-year terms ending in 2023.

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Senior Homestead Exemption

The Board of Education considered the next steps in regard to senior homestead exemptions at their November 12 meeting. This discussion followed the release of the Georgia State University study commissioned by the Board and the recent joint work session with the City Commission. This exemption conversation focused on the timeline for drafting legislation and how the Board will engage the community in the process. This process of community input and the decision on how to move forward must conclude prior to the 2021 sunset date as outlined in the original legislation.


In early 2020, the District and the City of Decatur will partner to look at senior homestead exemptions and how we can work together to engage all stakeholders in this important community-wide initiative.


Key takeaways from the Board discussion include:

  • The GSU study and recent discussions are the beginning of this process.

  • The Board, along with the City, will engage the community in a robust process to seek input on potential changes to the current senior homestead exemptions. The engagement process will begin in early spring 2020.

  • The Board must discuss and revisit this senior homestead exemption because it is set to sunset in 2021.

  • The Board plans to have a recommendation for new senior exemption legislation on the Board agenda for approval in fall 2020.

  • New legislation should go to the Legislature in the 2021 Session.


The Georgia State University study can be found here.

District News from the Wilson School Support Center

CSD Report Card Explanations

In coordination with all K-12 Instructional Coaches in the District and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, CSD has created a report card explanation for grades K-5 and a slightly revised explanation for grades 6-8, both of which will be sent home with report cards. You can find the explanations for the K-5 report cards here and the presentation explaining the 6-12 ManageBac report cards here.
Kindergarten through 6th grade will receive paper copies and 7th through 12th grades will be sent an electronic copy via ManageBac. Please note that Talley and F.AVE report cards went out on Monday, November 11, while the report cards for the rest of the district are scheduled to go out today.
If you have additional questions, please reach out to your school's instructional coach.

2019 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) Results

The Georgia Department of Education has released the annual College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI). The CCRPI is Georgia’s statewide accountability measurement as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).


City Schools of Decatur’s CCRPI overall score was 87.9. Elementary schools had an aggregate score of 90.7, Renfroe Middle School scored 77.7, and Decatur High School scored 91.9. All our schools received a four-star climate rating. For more information and the scores of each schools, click here.

CSD Enrollment Report

Each October, we report our enrollment to the Georgia Department of Education. This enrollment data is used to determine our full time equivalent (FTE) students which in turn determines the funding we receive from the state. Our K-12 enrollment for the October count was 5,695 students. For the prior seven years we have added between 223 and 393 students each year from October to October. This year we added 155 students from October 2018 to October 2019. Although our enrollment continues to grow, observations from the report were:

  • The number of students added from October to October is declining.

  • Enrollment is up in grades 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11.

  • Enrollment is down in grades 2, 4, 5, 7, and 12.

  • Kindergarten numbers are holding steady.

For the full report, please click here.

Information Services Advisory Council

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.

CSD applies for Georgia's Dyslexia Pilot

In May 2019, Governor Kemp signed Senate Bill 48 (SB48) into law. SB48 provides for identification of and support for students in kindergarten through third grade with characteristics of dyslexia. The Request for Proposal (RFP) process to apply for Georgia's Dyslexia Pilot opened in late October 2019. Members of the District Curriculum & Instruction Team and members of the District Equity and Student Support Team completed and submitted the application. Once we know whether or not the State selected our district for Georgia’s Dyslexia Pilot, we will communicate the decision with the community. To learn more about Georgia's action items related to SB48, please click here.

Curriculum and Instruction: Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System

As an invested partner in your child’s learning, we would like to share more information about the Fountas & Pinnell (F & P) Benchmark Assessment System. The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (Third Edition) is a one-on-one assessment that helps teachers to identify your child’s specific reading strengths and appropriate instructional reading level for small group instruction. The data gained from this assessment conference with your child helps us to identify goals and plan instruction that supports your child’s reading progress across the school year. For more information about F & P, please click here.

CSD School Nurses do so much more that just apply bandages!

Did you know... that you have a highly skilled Registered Nurse (RN) working in each of our City Schools of Decatur health offices? These nurses have a high level of knowledge, expertise, experience, and professionalism. Your RN is typically the only medical professional onsite, which means they have to work independently. No longer is the health office just for bandages. Your RN performs a critical role providing support to students physically, mentally, and emotionally. Your RN supports students’ achievements in the learning process by providing preventative screening services and health education to students, parents, and staff. Additionally, your RN administers medication, performs healthcare procedures, and handles students with health conditions such as diabetes, seizure disorders, asthma, and allergies. Your RN monitors immunizations, manages communicable diseases, and assesses the school environment to prevent injury and ensure safety. Because healthy children are successful learners, your RN will continue to serve as a liaison between our school personnel, family, and community healthcare providers to ensure a healthy school environment for them daily.


If you haven’t already, please take a moment to get to know your school RN by visiting the school health office and your school’s website. The school RN is a valued member of the City Schools of Decatur Team.

School Psychology Awareness Week

School Psychology Awareness Week is this week, November 11-15. This week is a time to highlight the important work school psychologists and other educators do to help all students thrive. This year's theme, "Find Your Focus", highlights how school psychologists and other educators can help students identify strengths and areas of interest, develop persistence, see ideas and situations more clearly, and attend to important information in academic and social settings. As you know, the school psychologists in our district provide a range of services to support students’ academic achievement and social–emotional well-being. These include school and parent consultation, helping to improve school climate, advocating for best practices, and enhancing specific areas of student well being. Thank you to all our school psychologists for all they do for our kids every day!

School Nutrition

Did you know the "White Bean & Collard Green Soup" that is being served in our cafeterias is a new recipe for CSD? We offer a weekly soup for our upper elementary, middle, and high school students during the cooler months, so we decided to feature the produce of the month (collard greens) in the weekly soup during November! The high school kids have been adding hot sauce for an extra kick with their greens. We are proud of the work our Nutrition Department staff is doing to support the use of local produce and introduce new menu items to our students.

School News You Can Use!

DHS National Merit Semifinalists

Congratulations to these three DHS students who have been named as semifinalists in the Nation Merit Scholarship Program.
  • Nayeli Shad
  • Aidan Papandria
  • Julian Daniel
CSD is proud to announce these three Decatur Bulldogs are a part of the approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring.Congratulations to each of you, and CSD wishes you the best in the next round of consideration on your way to earn the title of Merit Scholars.

Talley Street Landscaping and Outdoor Space Update

We are excited to begin the next phase of the Talley Street outdoor space installations and landscape. The lower playspace situated on the western side of the property, adjacent to Columbia Drive, will have two swing sets, a climbing structure, balance elements, and an agility wall. This group of play structures is part of our second phase of the outdoor space installations at Talley. Along with the new play structures, we will continue our replacement of the tree canopy on the property. This will include planting over 80 new trees. Some of the species to be planted will include Red Maple, White Oak, Sourwood, Red Oak, Magnolia, Loblolly Pine, and Tulip Poplar. We will also be planting additional shrubs and plants. The "grass" that you see beginning to grow on the steep hills is a special mix of grasses and wildflowers that is not intended to be cut. It will grow in its natural state, providing a more natural look for our property as we begin to replace the trees and shrubs that were displaced by construction.

Tonight-November 14- A Renfroe Parent's Guide to Understanding the CSD Report Card

Middle School Parents: Join us this Thursday evening for Making the Grade: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the CSD Report Card.

Along with our partners, the RMS Counseling Department, Instructional Coaches, and Student Engagement Lead will host our first parent event at DHA for the year. Please join us for an informational session to gain understanding on how CSD communicates student grades, progress, and effort. Learn how to read and decode your student's report card, and whom to reach out to within our school when/if you have questions or need support. Dinner and childcare will be provided!

Date: Thursday, November 14
Time: 6 - 8 p.m.
Place: Decatur Housing Authority's Community Resource Center
481 Electric Ave, Decatur, GA 30030

Questions? Contact Ragan Hudson at rhudson@csdecatur.net, or Sabrena Shields at sshields@csdecatur.net.

Hope to see you there!

Clairemont CCRPI and Teacher of the Year!

Clairemont is so proud to announce that we had a 25.4-point increase in our CCRPI, College and Career Ready Performance Index, the statewide accountability system that provides information on how well schools are performing. Clairemont's 2019 CCRPI score is 94.1! Congrats to our teachers and staff for this amazing achievement.


Clairemont didn't just announce their Teacher of the Year back in October, the teachers, staff, and administration held an on-campus celebration for their Teacher of the Year Ms. Angela Needham. The staff enjoyed a nacho bar while honoring Ms. Needham with kind remarks and a video featuring her colleagues and students. Ms. Needham also received an acrylic award to commemorate her accomplishment and a cash prize courtesy of the Clairemont PTA. The entire Clairemont Crew is proud to be represented by Ms. Angela Needham!

Oakhurst Crew and EL Education

Did you know that EL educators from all around the world had a field trip to City Schools of Decatur last month? The National EL Education Conference, held in Atlanta in mid-October, made a school site visit “field trip” to learn how our K-2 schools exemplify the EL Education Network School model and to learn best practices related to the EL Education Dimensions Platform, which gauges student achievement.

CSD proudly welcomed this group of EL educators from around the world to Clairemont, Oakhurst, and Westchester. These photos show the group visiting Oakhurst classrooms and learning more from Oakhurst’s principal, Tanisha Sanders. Also pictured are EL educators visiting Ms. Borowski’s first-grade class, Ms. Carmichael-Kemp’s second-grade class, and an art class taught by Ms. Dams.

To learn more about EL Education, visit https://eleducation.org.


As a part of the EL education framework, Oakhurst this year, has truly embraced the EL notion that “we are crew, not passengers.” This year, the crew structure at Oakhurst has been transformed to include a “whole-school shutdown” from 8 - 8:30 a.m. This means that all instructional staff (including specials and intervention staff) is committed to participating in crew meetings every day! “We do not schedule interventions or meetings during this time. It’s sacred time for us” said Principal Sanders. Each classroom has at least one additional adult to focus on team building, social-emotional learning, and Habits of Character. Each adult is considered a crew leader and is a vital component of each day’s lesson. This structure is creating stronger relationships amongst students and staff!

College Heights Literacy Week!

At the end of October, College Heights held its 4th annual Read-to-Me-a-Thon fundraiser. This year, we added a week of literacy focused events. These events included special guest readers, community outreach, and parent education. We hosted DHS athletes who read to each of our birth to three year old classes. Dr. Dude read to our Pre-K students, and Ninetta Violante the Fire Marshall read to our preschoolers. In addition, we had many parent mystery readers, we read in the garden, and we hosted a parent workshop to teach families about home literacy practices they might adopt. One of the most exciting events was our first Read to Your Bunny session, held at the DHA Community Center. Parents and their young children were able to rotate through stations focused on different approaches to reading books with their infants and toddlers, and they were given the highlighted books to take home. All of this was capped off with the most adorable book parade in the world, including an announcement of our Read-to-Me-a-Thon winners. Way to go, families!

Westchester 2nd grade Fall Expedition "Be The Change"

The 2nd grade at Westchester Elementary is in the midst of their Fall Expedition, "Be The Change." During one of their case studies, students explored the sun, moon, and stars. One of our Sunrise Senior Living neighbors, Mr. Remer Prince, came to visit us on October 31. Mr. Prince was one of the first black engineers at NASA in the 1960's and 1970's. Students were amazed as they listened to Mr. Prince's experiences as a computer engineer who worked to coordinate computer programs used to launch Apollo 11. The students were also excited about showing Mr. Prince their own space expedition work.

Student Athlete Spotlight

DHS Cross Country State Champs

A special congratulations to the DHS Cross country team, who won the Georgia AAAAA Cross Country Championship earlier this month. Christian Gonzalez won third place overall.


Decatur Bulldogs Varsity Football team is in the Playoffs!

Congratulations to our Varsity DHS Football team, who has made the state playoffs and has a record of 8 and 3. This is the first time in 15 years Decatur has made the playoffs, so let’s be sure to cheer on our team and congratulate them for this outstanding accomplishment! Be sure to cheer on our Bulldogs as they play at Buford tomorrow night.


Homecoming and Spirit Week

Thank you to everyone at the high school for a wonderful homecoming and spirit week. It is so fun to see how spirit week is celebrated across the district at each of the 10 schools, not just at DHS.


Sports Calendar
Be sure to root on our 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, https://decaturbulldogboosters.org/.

DHS Homecoming Parade

Winnona Park Honors Veterans at Community Circle

Last Friday, Winnona Park Elementary celebrated the veterans within our community who are our parents, grandparents, staff, and teachers with a special song and recognition. The DHS JROTC presented the colors to kick off their Community Circle. It was a wonderful tribute to our veterans, and CSD is grateful to all the veterans who have served our country.

Congrats to DHS Debate teams and the DHS Marching Band!

DHS Debate

DHS hosted a successful Debate tournament this past weekend. Earlier this month at competitions all over Atlanta, our 9th-grade Debate team won their division, the JV Debate team won their division, and the Debate team won 3rd place overall. Congrats to all our Decatur Debate team members!


DHS Marching Band

A huge congratulations to our Decatur High Band, who competed in and placed in the top 3 at competitions over the last month. In particular, we want to recognize the Drum Major who won 1st Place at the Greater Atlanta Marching Festival at Rockdale County High School in October.

Photos from Around The District

F.AVE's Read-A-Thon

Renfroe's Adventures in Learning

Talley Street Artists show their Creativity and Innovation

The 2019 Renfroe Snow Ball Dance

The 2019 Glennwood Fall Carnival

Do you have photos from your school to share? Send them to Sarah Jones at sjones1@csdecatur.net and you might see your photos on social media or in the next District Dispatch.

Upcoming District Dates

Fall 2019 PTO/PTA/PTSA Events:

Clairemont PTA's the 2019 Decatur Holiday Marketplace + Café at Clairemont Elementary is happening on December 13 and 14. For more info, visit www.decaturholidaymarketplace.com


Winnona Park PTA's Jingle Jog followed by the Tree, Wreath and Candle Sale: Saturday, December 7. For more information, visit wwww.winnonaparkpta.org/product-category/holiday-sale/


Other Upcoming CSD-related Events:


Chicago by DHS Performs!

November 14, 15, 16, 17
Decatur Performing Arts Center
You can find out more information about DHS performs at www.decaturperforms.org.


Decatur Farm to School Dine Out:
November 20, 5 - 9 p.m.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/387747888588902/.


DEF's Supper & Sips - TONIGHT!

Join the Decatur Education Foundation for their annual Supper & Sips event tonight, Nov. 14, from 6:30-10 p.m. at the Marriott in Downtown Decatur. To purchase your tickets, visit givergy.us/supperandsips.


Decatur Parents Network Events

Coffee for Decatur Parents/Caregivers, "Unlocking the Full Potential of Our Children" - Tuesday, November 19, 6 p.m.- This special topic coffee sponsored by Decatur Parents Network is for parents who want to engage in the conversation around disproportionate academic outcomes. Academic outcomes continue to remain noticeably divergent between minority and non-minority students in City Schools of Decatur. How do we as parents and interested advocates help close this gap?


Afternoon Tea for Parents of Decatur 11th Graders - Sunday, December 9, from 3 - 5 p.m.

If you are interested in attending one of our events, or if you want to host one for the Network, please email us at Parent Network Coffees and we'll be in touch! Thank you!


Upcoming Appreciation Days:

November 11-15, 2019: School Psychology Awareness Week

November 18-22, 2019: Crossing Guard Appreciation Week

Have an date you'd like us to add to the next newsletter? Email Sarah Jones at sjones1@csdecatur.net. Thanks!

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!