Students return to class soon

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt July 30, 2014
File photo: Students who live in the Lenox Place neighborhood walk to Oakhurst Elementary. The neighborhood has since been rezoned to Westchester, which will reopen this fall.

File photo: Students who live in the Lenox Place neighborhood walk to Oakhurst Elementary. The neighborhood has since been rezoned to Westchester, which will reopen this fall.

Summer will soon end for students in City Schools of Decatur and Atlanta Public Schools.

Students return to class on Monday, Aug. 4. DeKalb County Schools will resume classes a week later on Aug. 11.

There will be changes in store for some students. There’s also a sales tax holiday coming up to help parents purchase school supplies and an opportunity to help students who are in need.

Read on …

Reopened school, new leadership in Decatur

A screen shot of the newly-launched Westchester Elementary School website.

A screen shot of the newly-launched Westchester Elementary School website.

Westchester Elementary reopens after a 10 year hiatus to accommodate the growth in enrollment. City Schools of Decatur has used the building as its central offices, but has moved to its new digs at the Beacon Municipal Center.

The school’s principal is Rochelle Lofstrand.

Over at Decatur High School, there will be a new principal. Noel Maloof joins City Schools of Decatur this year, having previously served as principal at Dunwoody High School. Former DHS Principal Lauri McKain was promoted to Director of Secondary Education.

Decatur Police Sgt. Jennifer Ross also sent along this reminder:

“The lighter summer traffic will give way to more traffic in general to include school buses,” Ross said. “Please keep in mind we will also have many more young cyclists and pedestrians making their way to school. Please slow down and pay extra attention and plan for a little extra commute time to prevent speeding through the school zones. There will be an increased presence of Decatur officers in and around the school zones to remind everyone school is back in session.”

Ross provided this summary of school zones an attendance times for City Schools of Decatur:


Merged middle schools in Atlanta’s Jackson High cluster

A new map released by APS shows the attendance boundaries for the new King Middle. Source: Talk Up APS.

A new map released by APS shows the attendance boundaries for the new King Middle. Source: Talk Up APS.

Starting this year, there will be one middle school serving Jackson High in Atlanta.

Last year the Atlanta Board of Education voted to close Coan Middle and combine it with King Middle due to low enrollment at both schools, in part because of competition from Drew Charter School.

Now Atlanta Public Schools wants to get parents to reinvest in middle school education within the cluster after nixing an idea to turn Toomer Elementary into a K-8 school. Whether parents will want to commit to the idea of combining the two schools or send their children elsewhere remains to be seen.

During the first two years of the merger, all students would attend classes at the original Coan campus. While the students are at Coan, King will receive a $10 million to $20 million renovation. Students would move back to the King campus in August of 2016.

Sales tax holiday

The back to school sales tax holiday returns Friday, Aug. 1 and Saturday, Aug. 2.

Exempt items include clothing with a value of $100 or less, computers with a price of $1,000 or less, and school supplies like folders and pencils.

For a complete list of what’s exempt from sales taxes, click here.

The blog notes that some things are definitely not exempt from sales taxes this weekend, like television sets and cell phones.

In a related item, the DeKalb County Fire Rescue Department is asking people to donate school supplies to help needy children this year. The donation period ends on Monday, Aug. 4. at 8 pm. You can drop the supplies off at any DeKalb County Fire Station. For a list of fire stations, click here.

DeKalb County Fire Rescue provided this list of needed items:

1. Backpack
2. Elmer’s school glue
3. Glue sticks
4. Blunt safety tip scissors
5. Number 2 pencils – NOT mechanical
6. Highlighters
7. Dry erase markers
8. Washable markers
9. Colored pencils
10. Pencil pouch with zipper
11. 24/32/48 count crayons
12. Large erasers
13. Ruler
14. Wide ruled notebook paper
15. Black and white composition books
16. Construction paper
17. Spiral notebook
18. Index cards
19. 1.5 inch binders with pockets
20. 3 prong folders with pockets
21. Hand sanitizer
22. Anti-bacterial hand soap
23. Box of Kleenex
24. Paper towels
25. Zip lock type bags – sandwich/quart/gallon

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Chris Billingsley

    Thanks Dan. One of the best things about NOT being a teacher is that during pre-planning, and the entire school year, I sleep well on Sunday night. But I still miss it. Here’s something I posted on Facebook to a teacher’s post welcoming new staff to DHS and RMS. For what’s its worth…
    “Congratulations. You are about to begin THE GREATEST TEACHING GIG around! Heck, not just a great teaching gig but in my opinion, the best job, like evah! The group pictures of you smiling in front of Decatur High School on your first day of pre-planning doesn’t remind me of what I experienced back in 76. I was hired two days before the first day for students to teach three classes of 9th grade physical science (a subject I knew nothing about but DHS was desperate and needed a live body before the start of classes), a 10th grade geography class and a government class to who knows whom! I was fresh out of college and thought I was hot shit but boy, did I learn quickly that I was not prepared for the job. In fact, at the end of the first day I thought, what was I doing when I signed this contract! Unlike today, where you have so much help from mentor teachers and caring (?) administrators, I had very little assistance (WARNING- Administrators may tell you that your problems are their problems but be careful! They have enough on their hands and really can’t help you solve all your problems). The administrators and department heads expected me to swim with the sharks and get the job done beginning the first day. Did I survive? Not really because sometime during the spring, the assistant principal called me into his office and said, “Sorry. Reduction In Staff due to declining enrollment. No contract next year. Best of luck”. As it turned out, they needed a Social Studies teacher the following year and I was lucky enough to get a second chance. That first year was a miserable experience but I learned many things that helped me over the next thirty-four years.
    OK so here’s my advice, not that it will help when you’re trying to break up a fight or deal with kids who are sound asleep when the ClassKeys evaluators show up but these suggestions helped me throughout my career.
    1. Stand at the door to greet the students at the start of class and say something nice to each student (if possible) standing at the door as they leave. This lets the students know you’re in charge of your classroom. Students appreciate teachers who act like they know what’s going on. And always try to say something nice to kids as they leave, even if it’s “Adios”. You would be surprised by the number of kids who go home after seven hours of school and not a single teacher said anything nice to them.
    2. Use structure and routine at the start and end of the class. For me, it was a fairly easy warmup but sometimes one so challenging that parents would email later to complain, “What’s up with the 150 question crossword puzzle about the Constitution?” If you can focus most of the students at the start of class, you can do some pretty creative things before the end.
    3. Seek out the teacher(s) that kids either love and/or respect. Take the time to watch them in action. Do they do something, a teaching technique, that you can use in your class? These master teachers may not be official mentors but they are worth emulating in some way.
    4. If you have a kid that really pushed your stress button during class, try to resolve the problem before you leave work. During your break, find the kid, pull him/her out of class (if possible) and resolve the conflict quickly. Say something like, “When I asked you to sit down today, you called me a stupid mother-fucking sissy. That surprised me because I really think you have great potential. Now tomorrow when you come to class, can you treat me with more respect? That’s all I ask.” Most of the time, the student will agree and will do better the next day. And one more thing, NEVER let a problem fester over the weekend. Resolve it with the student before you leave. There is nothing worse than worrying about behavior problems over the weekend.
    4. Your principals and administrators have at least one good quality that can help you become a better teacher. Try to see them as an ally. One of the greatest gifts I had during my last six years as a teacher was working with some outstanding administrators. I learned to see their better qualities and not to assume they were out to get me.
    5. It’s not all about the kids and the administrators. PARENTS COUNT and I learned late in my career that they can be your best ally. Try to do something to WOW the parents. For me, it was quality out-of-class educational experiences. You get paid to teach in the classroom. Motivate the kids to do great things outside the classroom and the parents will love you.
    6. No mater if you are a first year clueless rookie or a thirty five year veteran on the way to retirement, you must believe that what you do EVERY SINGLE DAY is important for a child’s future. Walk into a classroom at the beginning of the day and leave at the end with the feeling that you are, or are trying to be, a master teacher, that what you do in a classroom is critical to the educational success of your students, that you gave your best effort and that tomorrow will be even better.
    Feel free to pass this on the the newbees. I miss being a teacher more than anyone can imagine. Teaching at CSD will be one of the greatest experiences in your life. Enjoy it. My thirty five years in the classroom ended all too soon.”

    • Rabbit47

      I generally am in disagreement with Mr. Billingsley’s comments here, and on other blogs, but I think this is great. I am not, nor never was a teacher, but this sounds like excellent advice from one who has been there.

      You may, Mr. B., want to copy edit the post just a bit–two 4s & one or two other typo’s, but nothing to truly detract from the quality of the post.

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