To: Superintendent From: The best gift givers – Teacher Rita Simmons, her students, GADOE and GA Aquarium

Imagine my surprise to find a fun email today (so I had to do a quick post) from our beloved Cleveland Avenue Elementary School teacher AND 2013-2014 Atlanta Public Schools’ District-wide Teacher of the Year AND 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year Top-Ten Finalist – Rita Simmons! She was awarded an opportunity to take students with chaperones to the Georgia Aquarium.  This award was given to her for being a 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year Top-Ten Finalist (that’s her kneeling in the scarf in front of the students).

rita aquarium

In preparation for the trip, kindergarten through fifth grade had an opportunity to create, write, persuade and present a creative project which introduces their favorite marine animal to the school community.  She said phenomenal creations were submitted!

For some of the students, this was their first time visiting the Aquarium or viewing live marine animals.  There was one kindergarten and first grade group that, after walking into the Ocean Voyager tunnel, had such a positive and exciting reaction that it brought tears to her eyes…awwww…now I want to cry!  To see the whale shark gracefully glide above them as their eyes tracked his movement was priceless in her view (and mine). Look at that little girl’s face!

rita aquarium 2

On behalf of Ms. Simmons and APS, I send a huge THANK-YOU to Keisha Ford Jenrette of the Georgia Department of Education and The Georgia Aquarium sponsors for their grand generosity and support. Many students will never forget Wednesday, December 17, 2014 – and neither will Ms. Simmons.

rita aquarium 3

And, I will carry these beautiful images with me into the winter break to keep my heart warm and mind focused on our children. This is the perfect gift for me!

Have a great winter break! See you all back on January 6th!

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