The first day of school signifies new beginnings and new opportunities. I’m particularly feeling it this week, as I start in teaching at a brand new school!
However, I know that the back-to-school season for many Atlanta families is just a reminder that they have to wait yet another year for real change and improvement in their school options. But I want to highlight one school community in Northwest Atlanta that’s opening next week.
Thanks to Atlanta Public Schools’ (APS) Turnaround Strategy, in the Douglass Cluster and various partners from across Atlanta are coming together for the first time to open Woodson Park Academy—a partnership between KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools and APS.
On August 12, the first day of school for APS, hundreds of students will walk into this newly created school. Like the other APS Partnership Schools, Woodson Park will continue to serve as the neighborhood school and will be open to all students in the Woodson Park Academy zone. And KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools will still use their successful college-prep model that emphasizes strength of character and a culture of achievement and support.
For a long time, this community in the Douglass Cluster relied on two public elementary schools, Woodson Primary and Grove Park Intermediate. Both were significantly unenrolled and required major renovations. At the time, Grove Park Intermediate was the third-lowest performing school in the entire district. These children and families urgently needed a plan to provide a high quality education and wraparound services to ensure a pathway to college and career!
Then in 2016 after much community discussion and budget considerations, APS said they would consolidate the schools onto one campus. They got a new school leader charged with not only bridging academic gaps but also bridging together two communities.
Then APS announced the partnership with the Grove Park Foundation, which is working on raising enough money to build a brand-new school for these families—as well as a YMCA that will one day offer early childhood education classrooms. This means that community will actually have a cradle to college and career trajectory for students who may not have experienced these educational opportunities before.
With the first day of school for Woodson Park Academy students coming up on Monday, families in the Douglass Cluster can be hopeful for the school year, the fresh start it brings and the new community they are creating!
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.