9th Grade, Westlake High School
Fulton County Public Schools
After looking at education and race in a sociology course at Columbia University, Toni S. Johnson became passionate about making a difference. After graduating, Toni completed the NYC Teaching Fellows program, and then accepted a position at West Bronx Academy (WBA) as a 7th grade Special Education Teacher. There, she had the opportunity to research with New Visions for Public Schools on effective strategies to improve English comprehension in failing schools. After three years at WBA, in 2016, Toni moved to Atlanta for a new change. She currently serves as a 9th Grade English teacher at Westlake High School. Toni has been successful in helping to raise 9th grade state standardized test scores in English and looks forward to continuing her work on changing the dynamics of urban education.
Make Your mark!
“Make Your Mark!,” is a 9th grade interdisciplinary collaborative initiative that will allow students to explore their own identity, the community they live in, and how they can make an impact by using Homer’s “The Odyssey” as a guiding text. The eight week unit will be centered around four essential questions: Who am I?, What are my gifts, talents, and abilities?, What are the historical and current community dynamics of Atlanta?, How can I use my own gifts, talents and abilities to make a mark on my community in a positive way?
After completing a character study of Odysseus, students will study their own identity by completing a family tree, choosing one part of their own identity to explore (e.g. culture, ethnicity, race, etc.), and then writing about it. The top ten reports will have the opportunity to complete a 23andme.com DNA ancestry report while working with the biology teacher. From the understanding gained from discovering their own identity, students will start to think about their own gifts, talents, and abilities. After doing a brief study of Ancient Greece, students will research Georgia, Atlanta, and South Fulton County to discover the needs and the community make-up. Then, they will choose one aspect of their community to focus on and how they can make a difference. Students will then design a service project that allows them to use their gifts, talents, and abilities to serve a civic, arts, education, or environmental need in their community. They will write proposals that will be considered by a panel to implement their project. The top 10 proposals will receive $150 to implement their project.