‘Ushering In’ a New School Year at Usher-Collier Heights Elementary

Usher_grad-037_resized (1)Today, Ms. Weems, a 2nd grade teacher at Usher-Collier Heights Elementary, reminded me of the joy of learning. I had the opportunity to sit with her class as they worked on grammar and phonics.  I even answered questions!

Usher, led by principal Gregory Parks, is a part of the Douglass cluster and in this cluster, APS has an exciting partnership with the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, the professional development arm of the Atlanta Speech School, to train APS teachers using a synthesis of the nation’s best research on how to build a child’s language, vocabulary, critical thinking skills and world knowledge. My student tour guide for the day was the lovely Miss D’Shani Barrett – she did a great job showing me around the school and telling me about its programs.

Usher_grad-042_resizedThe Rollins Center provides a blend of both online and job-embedded on-site mentoring and coaching for teachers and has started this exciting work in the Douglass Cluster. The partnership began by working with teachers at Westside Atlanta Charter School to equip them with the skills to provide effective literacy and language support to early learners in grades K-3. Due to the success of the training and tremendous improved student outcomes, Westside Atlanta Charter School Principal Pete Settelmayer wanted to share the best practices and strategies with the other schools in their cluster and community.

Usher_grad-020_resizedOver the summer, the scaling of this work began with an intensive summer training program for over 20 Douglass Cluster K-3 teachers facilitated by Rollins Center Staff and teachers from Westside held at Usher-Collier Elementary School. The training will continue this school year with a facilitator working at Douglass elementary schools supporting teachers two days a week. I got to witness the results of the mentoring and coaching in action this morning and saw students engaged and excited about learning. This partnership truly demonstrates collaboration and strategic alignment within a cluster to support a high need community.

A special thank you to State Representative Ms. Sheila Jones for joining us during our tour today – we appreciate your support of this cluster.

As we headed out the door we passed a beautiful mural that the principal said spoke to the school’s mission. It read, “Serving the community of Usher-Collier Elementary takes HEART work.” What a beautiful daily reminder!

Welcome back Usher! I hope you have a fabulous year!


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