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2012 cohort of grantees

brittany beaumont

1st Grade, Springdale Park Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Writing the Future

Strong writing skills are imperative to academic success. In today’s learning culture, students are expected to write across curriculum to convey their knowledge and communicate effectively. With the adoption of the Common Core Standards, this is more true than ever. However, many students lack the skills needed to become superb writers. ‘Writing the Future’ aimed to address this problem by providing students with engaging learning experiences that would facilitate the development of the foundational skills needed grow as writers.


‘Writing the Future’ provided instructional experiences that allowed writing to be fully integrated across all subject areas. Curriculum materials were purchased that facilitated the explicit teaching of foundational writing skills. These curriculum materials were utilized on a daily basis. Writing stations were also purchased to provide students with meaningful writing experiences. These daily writing habits helped students to apply their learning and master the skills needed to be successful writers across academic disciplines. The project culminated with students sharing year-long writing portfolios with peers and parents. All students were thrilled to have the opportunity to show off their writing accomplishments. Ms. Beaumont’s classroom was filled with pride as students shared their evidence of the impact that this project had on them as writers.

Brittany Beaumont

Nicole bartig

Kindergarten, Sarah Smith Middle School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Reaching for the Stars, the Digital Generation

The goal of ‘Reaching for the Stars, the Digital Generation’ was to integrate technology while teaching the common core standards in a way that was engaging to the digital generation of learners. Over the past couple of years, Ms. Bartig came to the realization that her students were using a variety of technologies at home for eduational purposes and were asked to learn in a completely different way when they came to school each day. Her students were asked to sit and listen to a teacher with little or no real student engagement, which was not beneficial.  Ms. Bartig wanted to help her students take a more active roll in their learning through the use of technology integration.


‘Reaching for the Stars, the Digital Generation’ used iPads, ActivSlates, and digital video cameras to engage the students and teach the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards at the same time. Ms. Bartig was pleasantly surprised with the increased desire to learn due to the use of iPads in the  classroom. Students that were previously quiet and did not participate frequently couldn’t wait to have a turn to participate in the activity. The excitement level in her classroom increased dramatically as a result of the new technology and new opportunities to learn in a hands-on, technology-based way. The ActivSlates were a great way for the students that were shy to participate in a way that was more comfortable for them. They really came out of their shells and took pride in what they were able to do, just by having the opportunity to participate and have their work displayed on the Promethean Board from their own seats. It was amazing to see how excited they became knowing that they could participate from their seats. 

Nicole Bartig

Vanessa Evans


Atlanta Public Schools

Project: MacBooks for Molding Young Minds

The purpose of this project was to allow Ms. Evans’s students daily access to computers in order to expand their knowledge of technology while improving their writing skills. Living in the technological age, it’s important for scholars to learn how to navigate and use electronics. By having a set of permanent laptops for her classroom, Ms. Evans’ students were able to learn how to type up essays and had the opportunity to submit their essays for scholarships and publishing. They were also able to use academic websites to work on skills they struggled with, improving their academic performance. Since some places (such as libraries, colleges, and other public facilities) either have Macs or PCs to use, it’s important for students to know how to use both kinds. Before project implementation, Ms. Evans’ students only had access to PCs, so by getting a set of Mac computers, all of her students were able to learn how to navigate Macs.

Vanessa Evans

Stephanie Gray

6th Grade, KIPP STRIVE Academy

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: STRIVE for FIVE

The goal of this project is to raise at least $15,000 for student travel through the promotion of fitness, community involvement, and increased Math knowledge. The end result of STRIVE for FIVE was a 5K Road Race whose proceeds benefited KIPP STRIVE Academy and Primary Schools. During the build-up to the Road Race, scholars and families received and held each other accountable to training plans and benchmarks. ‘Mathlete’ students studied the process of burning calories, sequencing times, and tracking positive and negative withdrawals to the budget. Overall, this project had an impact on ‘Mathletes’ mastery of decimals, integers, and nutrition. Lastly, the money raised benefited scholars’ travel abroad, contributing to their global education.


This project provided the ultimate real-world performance task to demonstrate achievement of new Math standards. Especially amongst pre-teens and teens, body image is closely linked to self-esteem. This means that the extent to which children accept and like their body influences the value they assign themselves. Research cited by suggests that one approach to improve children’s self-esteem is to help them impact the elements of their body image they can realistically control. Fitness is one such element. When scholars completed a 1-mile Fun Run or 5K Road Race, they had a tangible statement to improve their self-talk: “I finished a 5K.”, “I am strong.”, or “Look what my body can do”.

Stephanie Gray

Erik herndon

Orchestra, Young Middle School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Young Recoding Studios

‘Young Recording Studios’ addressed three major problems at Young Middle School: 1) Integrating technology into the music curriculum as a tool for music education as well as a vehicle to reinforce math and science concepts, 2) Providing the technological means for performances and content to be recorded and documented and, 3) Providing direct access to recording, composing, and music creation software so that students could create and document their own work.


The addition of the hardware and software that ‘Young Recording Studios’ added to the classroom was a real game changer for Mr. Herndon’s music program. The ability to record in real time and provide immediate feedback for students really changed how they rehearsed. Mr. Herndon was now able to hear all aspects of the musical experience and address concerns sequentially as opposed to listening on the fly and remembering what he should focus on. Because of this project,  Mr. Herndon was able to record every class, every performance, every project, and every student composition. Having the software projected on Mr. Herndon’s whiteboard helped students make the connection between wave forms, amplitude, intensity, vibration and many more science concepts inspiring really constructive inquiry on how sound is produced and how people affect sound and emotion through music performance. The implications for long term change in teaching and learning were enormous!

Erik Herndon

peter mcknight

Principal, South Atlanta High School of Law and Social Justice

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: B.M.H. (Boys Making History)

‘B.M.H. (Boys Making History)’, South Atlanta’s High School of Law and Social Justice male mentoring group, developed from a concern that a significant number of the young men, who appeared to be academically prepared, experienced other pressures that resulted in academic failure. Since the academic skills necessary for success were present, it stood to reason that positive pressure to succeed might change outcomes for these students. Mr. McKnight’s approach focused on bringing the boys together to build leadership skills through work with Outward Bound (a non-profit outdoor-education organization) and various physical challenges, while also regularly meeting to problem-solve around how to ensure academic success. Over the course of the project, students hiked Stone Mountain, bicycled on the Silver Comet Trail, indoor rock-climbed and spent five days in the North Carolina wilderness. As a result, Mr. McKnight saw significant academic improvement for many of the young men as well as the development of supportive relationships that could sustain success.

Petere McKnight
Evelyn Mobley

Evelyn Mobley 

Principal, West End Academy

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Building a Community of Leaders

Approximately 75% of students who enroll at the West End Academy lack social and

academic esteem. The need to develop school leaders is critical to student success and personal attitudes and positive standpoints in life. This project intended to educate students, parents, and staff about leadership principles that enhance skills such as time management, goal –setting, self-motivation, positive attitudes, critical thinking skills, and overall engagement and accountability. The 17 students selected to participate in ‘Building a Community of Leaders’ had multiple leadership opportunities to engage in leadership best practices.


This project afforded all stakeholders the opportunity to see the power of a carefully monitored and crafted in-house leadership initiative. The 17 participants lead workshops including: personal leadership assessments, the dangers of social media, senior projects, perceptions and stereotypes, identifying and overcoming barriers, among others. These workshops helped to give each participant a voice, a name, and a roadmap for the future. By giving the participants leadership opportunities, they helped to create a positive school culture. Their commitment to being role models through demonstrations, modeling, and peer remediation’s helped to increase problem-solving, college transitions, workforce involvement, and academic acceleration. Because of ‘Building a Community of Leader’, college applications were up that year, the school graduated 135 seniors, (6th in the system), teen pregnancy was at an all-time low, and the morale of the staff drastically increased. Fifty percent of the leaders chosen (in this case all males) had 12-20 classes to complete to graduate on time. All of them walked across the stage and received their diploma. They had no choice, you see, they had become LEADERS.

Bethay Paquette

Bethany paquette

3rd and 4th Grade, Drew Charter School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Steam-PBL Collaboratory

Ms. Paquette’s 3rd and 4th grade students at Drew Charter School had difficulty comprehending and mastering their respective grade level material and text due to limited vocabulary and lack of exposure to elevated language. ‘Overcoming Language and Vocabulary Weaknesses in the School Setting’ sought to increase students’ functional vocabulary through hands-on and real-life exposures to concepts including: current events; personal and world geography; time and history; social interactions and quality conversations; non-literal words and phrases; idioms and figures of speech; answering who, what, when, where and why questions; and naming and labeling items found in the world around us such as various household items, foods, landmarks in Georgia, etc.


‘Overcoming Language and Vocabulary Weaknesses in the School Setting’ bridged this gap in student learning by adding 30 minutes a day of vocabulary and language instruction, which was centered on hands-on and visual learning of vocabulary words using real life items or replicas of real life items, which are called realia. Simultaneously, students worked on language skills such as describing, categorizing, generalizing, comparing and contrasting and oral language. Additionally, students were able to take field trips that weren’t necessarily directly related to content, but that provided them with exposure and experiences that helped them navigate the city and their world more effectively. There was virtually no pen and paper aspect to this project, as students built their vocabulary knowledge base through the use of realia and real-life experiences, as well as instruction specifically focused on language and vocabulary weakness.

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