Friday, January 31, 2014

Chesnut Charter Elementary School Students Celebrate 100th Day of School
By Helping Those In Need

On Saturday, January 25th, just three days before the snow storm that shut ATL down and put even more of a strain on our community food banks, a group of 17 students from Chesnut Charter Elementary celebrated having completed 100 days of the 2013-14 school year by making 200 turkey on whole wheat sandwiches (two groups of 100!) for the less fortunate served by Atlanta's Open Door Community.
Pictured (l-r) are second graders Emily Cohen, Declan Heneghan, Leah Liss, Allison Levy, Sydney Lachin, Austin Hitt, Joshua Young and Alex Miranda. Also participating were kindergarteners Abram Blecker and Aaron Shenk; first graders Jabea Joe, Parker Mothershed, Kasey O'Brien and Anna Young; and fourth graders Jonah Liss, Audrey Mothershed and Nolan O'Brien.

Award Winning Author Carmen Deedy
Comes to Dunwoody Elementary!

PreK classes at DES, PreK teacher Rachel Risinger
(in back), Carmen Deedy seated on floor (center), PreK teacher Mary k.
Morris (to the right on floor)


Carmen Agra Deedy has been writing for children for over two decades. Born in Havana, Cuba, she came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1964. She grew up in Decatur, Georgia, where she lives today.
Deedy began writing as a young mother and storyteller whose NPR commentaries on All Things Considered were collected and released under the title, Growing Up Cuban In Decatur, Georgia. The pithy collection of twelve stories soon garnered awards, among them a 1995 Publishers Weekly Best Audio (Adult Storytelling) and a 1996 Parents’ Choice Gold Award.
Her children’s books have won numerous awards.
The Library Dragon received various children’s state book awards and has sold near half a million copies. In 2003 the book was her home state’s choice to represent Georgia at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival.
The Yellow Star was the recipient of the 2001 Jane Addams Peace Association Book Award (Honor), presented to Ms. Deedy at the United Nations by Mrs. Kofi Annan. It also received the 2001 Christopher Award, the 2000 Parent’s Choice Gold Award, the 2001 Bologna Ragazzi Award (for best international children’s book), the 2002 WOW Award (National Literary Association of England), among other notable awards and honors. It has been translated to over a dozen languages.
Martina the Beautiful Cockroach was presented with the 2008 Pura Belpre Honor Award, the 2008 NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Book Award, the 2008 Best Children’s Books of the Year (Bank Street College of Education), the 2008 International Latino Book Award, the Irma Simonton and James H. Black Award (Honor), the 2008 E.B White Award (Nominee), and the 2009 ALA Odyssey Audio Award (Honor), among others.

Deedy’s most recent children’s book, 14 Cows for America, is based on an astonishing gift Americans received from a Maasai village in Kenya, following the events of 9/11. The book was released in September of 2009 and is a New York Times Bestseller. The Wall Street Journal described it as a “ . . . moving and dramatically illustrated picture book.”
is now expanding into the world of chapter books with her upcoming Fall 2011 title, The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale. This is a story of deception, intrigue, and derring-do that reveals the unlikely alliance between a cheese-loving cat and the Cheshire Cheese inn’s mice in Victorian England.

Deedy has spent the past twenty years writing and telling stories. She has been an invited speaker at venues as varied as The American Library Association, Refugees International, The International Reading Association, Columbia University, The Smithsonian Institute, TED, The National Book Festival, and the Kennedy Center.
An ardent supporter of libraries, she was the 2008 National Spokesperson for School Library Media Month (AASL). She has spoken before Noble Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, CEOs of major corporations, and heads of state. Over a span of twenty years, Deedy has told stories to hundreds of thousands of school children. They remain her favorite audiences.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kudos to Peachtree Charter Middle School
Student Government Association
SGA Has Raised Over $70,000 for Charities!

Pictured are SGA advisor Mr. Ted Ward and SGA members (from the left) Aylin Solis, Ana Nolasco, Maria Komissovskaya, Xanay Ogbuen, Sarah Briggs, Ashton Harbin, Lauren Callihan, Olivia Harbin, and Meredith Frederick.
The Peachtree Charter Middle School Student Government Association has raised a total of over $70,000 for charities during the seven years of its Dress Down Day program.   Through the SGA fundraiser, PCMS students donate $3 to a specific charity to participate in Dress Down Day once a month.  As seen in the above picture, the SGA collected funds this month for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, raising approximately $1300 for that group.  Last semester, the students donated a total of $6100 to organizations such as the Community Assistance Center, the American Cancer Society, and the Children's Restorative Network.  
The Children's Restorative Network sent PCMS a thank you for its $1500 donation, letting the students know how much the funds mean to them: " Your generosity allows us to provide the important services and programs for more than 4,000 homeless children annually who reside in nearly 134 group homes and shelters covering 20 counties throughout the metro - Atlanta area." 
The students are looking forward to supporting the Special Olympics on the February 13th Dress Down Day.

Dunwoody Citizens Answer The Call

As far as I am concerned I live in the best city (Dunwoody) surrounded by the best people (even when we disagree) with the best Law Enforcement.  The best of the human spirit happens every day and I am sad that it takes a crisis for those acts to be recognized.  Below are some examples of the amazing acts of individuals of all ages in our community.  I know there are many, many more examples of the kindness of our citizenry, but let's start with these:

Click on each link below:

ICE Saves The Day for Many

Heart Warming Stores From A City Iced Over

Also, a heart-warming story from the Kittredge Principal:

The Good Samaritan award goes to the Director of Chamblee Methodist Preschool Allison Spangler and her husband Jack for taking in the KMS principal, her kiddo and Mrs. Kennedy last night when we couldn't travel home. What a gracious family!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thank You To All of Our School Heroes!

We've all read and/or seen information regarding students/Principals/Teachers/Bus Drivers stranded within their buildings or buses for hours and some even overnight.  I know this was the case at Dunwoody Elementary School and Peachtree Charter Middle School.  I am posting the message below from Vanderlyn Principal Mrs. Sanders as an example of the heroic efforts of our educators (and parents) during this weather crisis. I am sure each individual school has their own examples of heroes in their midst. I hope that DeKalb School Superintendent Thurmond will offer a MEANINGFUL Thank You to all of those District employees that gave of themselves and their own safety so that our children could be safe. 
Dear Viking Family,
I am once again amazed by the power of collaboration, teamwork and selflessness. The fact that we had less than an hour to prepare 760+ students for a modified dismissal did not seem to unravel our staff. We began the day with a contingency plan and communicated with all stakeholders. Just when we thought that we had made it through a complete and normal day, we received word that we would be dismissing students within the hour. It is safe to say that our plan worked for the majority, but not without a few unexpected pains along the way. Several factors beyond the school's and parent's control put a snafu in our best laid plan. Here is a quick synopsis of today's events:
  • Parents were able to check students out fairly quickly through a 3 station check-out procedure that was organized by grade-level. Thanks to our Special Area Teachers for making this happen!
  • Carpool and walkers were dismissed without incident and there were several parents who served as good neighbors to those working parents who could not make it to the school. I even received a call from parents who offered to return to the school to pick up stranded students from her neighborhood! (Thanks Suzie).
  • All buses ran with no delays with the exception of Bus 22B which runs a 2nd route to the Jefferson Apartments. The second route was severely delayed causing our students to arrive home very late. This bus was caught in the horrible traffic from the simultaneous dismissal of schools and created a flurry of worried parents. Despite their worry, they were polite and understanding as we explained that the bus was safely in route but was unable to navigate through standstill traffic. Unable to communicate with the drivers, we all waited patiently until the safe arrival of the students to their homes. There was a great dad (Kumar) who communicated with me throughout the extended wait and let me know that all was well when the bus finally arrived!
  • Patience kicked in as many of our staff remained to supervise several students whose parents were stranded in traffic for hours and were unable to get to the school. This type of selflessness allowed the majority of teachers to get home safely to their children and families. The altruistic staff that volunteered to stay was more concerned with the welfare of those who had further travels than themselves and offered to stay until the last child left. There were too many to name!
Overall, we learned that even the best-laid plans don't always go according to the way they are supposed to. But literally, at the end of the day, I can sigh with relief that all students made it home safely, some late, but nevertheless, safe. Thank you to the many staff members who went above and beyond the call of duty, to the many parents who assisted their neighbors, to the parents who had to endure a bit of worry because of a late bus, and for those who felt helpless as they desperately made futile attempts to make it to the school to pick up their children.

As I drove home finally to reunite with my family, my ride was inundated with calls and text messages from my wonderful staff and parents making sure that I got home safely. Needless to say, I am overcome with joy and gratitude that all the students and staff got home safely and also with disbelief of how today's events left others in a state of true emergency. How blessed we were to end the hectic day on a good note! As I watch the news and see all the horrible situations occurring for stranded students and staff in various schools, I pray that they are able to experience the lessons I learned today... patience, kindness, teamwork and selflessness. All the best on our 1st Snow Day tomorrow! Enjoy your families and have some much needed fun in the beautiful snow! Sorry to make this so personal, but for me, it always is.

Your Proud Leader,
Mrs. Crenshaw

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dunwoody High School Robotics Team Places 1st
at Walker VEX Robotics Challenge Tournament

Dunwoody High School Robotics Team 1264B placed 1st during their fourth tournament this year, competing at the Walker School VEX Robotics ChallengeTournament last Saturday. This is their third 1st place finish for the year.  Two Dunwoody Teams, 1264B & C, have already qualified for the Georgia State Tournament which takes place over the February 28th weekend. 
Team members in attendance for 1264B are:  Archish Chaturvedi, Liam Eastham, Max Noto, Wilson Pu and Tejas Sardar.  In addition to tournament champions, Team 1264B also took the Programming Skills Award and the Design Award. 
Way to go, Wildcat Robotics!
This Saturday, Dunwoody High School hosts the DeKalb Vex League Robotics Championship

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chesnut’s Student Body Completes an
Aladdin Themed STEM Day

Chesnut fourth graders work on a roof for Jasmine’s new home
Chesnut Charter Elementary, currently in the multi-year process to become an official STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) certified school, held its first STEM Education Day on December 20th. As the school is presenting a production of the musical “Aladdin” in May, STEM Day was also given an “Aladdin” theme. Chesnut’s students were told that Jasmine wanted a brand new home, and each grade level was tasked with producing an answer to an issue in the building process. Pre-K and kindergarteners worked on a simple roof design that would hold up in the weather associated with Jasmine's climate. The first graders worked on how to build a structure that could hold weight. The second graders worked on "Heave Ho", which helped to decide what type of devices to use in the building process. The third graders actually built houses to survive the different climates where Jasmine lives, while the fourth graders built the roof of the castle on a much higher level than the kindergarteners’. By designing and building dams, the fifth graders focused on how to provide Jasmine and her region with water.
At a staff meeting leading up to the STEM Day, Chesnut’s teachers experienced STEM training as they learned how to teach the engineering design process. Each group of teachers had to design and build a structure out of straws that would hold a marshmallow for one minute. The tallest and sturdiest tower won.
In a new milestone in its pursuit of STEM certification, Chesnut third-grade teacher, Stacia Brown, has been accepted into the K-5 Science Endorsement program, which she will pursue outside of classroom hours. The coursework is equivalent to graduate-level college courses and includes authentic residency/field experience. Coursework and field experience (combined) total 200 contact hours. Science endorsement provides the opportunity to increase science content and knowledge appropriate to K-5 teaching.

Chesnut’s faculty receiving inservice training on teaching the
engineering design process

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dunwoody Elementary Introduces
Maria Rives-Reynolds as Teacher of the Year

Introducing Maria Rivas-Reynolds....
Teacher of the Year
Dunwoody Elementary School 2013-2014!!! 
 We are so proud of her!

Name:       Maria Rivas Reynolds
Position:  Health and Physical Education
Years of Experience:  13
  • Bachelor of Science….Furman University
  • Master of Education... Mercer University

"Make a difference not just in your classroom but in the ENTIRE SCHOOL and COMMUNITY."
Growing up in a family of educators, I learned early on that Teachers must constantly enhance the look and structure of their class. Never being intimidated as an instructor to partake in classes to learn innovative and interesting ideas for my students; allows my class to flourish with endless possibilities each school year. I feel that it is essential to not only educate but inspire all the different young minds at Dunwoody Elementary. Relying on the various types of learning modes, teachers can appeal to each child’s reading, thinking, and reasoning skills. Developing a well-rounded student starts with a balanced Health and Physical Education program. My vision is that by providing a variety of topics related to their physical, emotional, and social health students will have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of proper physical activity. Being a Special Area teacher gives me a chance to make a positive impact on EVERY CHILD.


Dunwoody High Student Tylor Scales Selected To Participate in MLK Day Service

Courtesy of Dekalb County School System
Three DeKalb Students were selected to participate in the 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service. Janetta Hill (DeKalb School of the Arts, 12th grader), Tylor Scales (Dunwoody High School, 11th Grader) and Michelle Conner (Tucker High School, 9th Grader).
Please tune in Monday, January 20th for the the 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Service. This event will be televised on Fox 5 at 10:00 a.m. Monday, January 20th.  Students were selected to represent their school and/or church/synagogue and/or community organization.  The program will feature in its entirety Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech which was delivered by Dr. King in 1964.  High school and college students were chosen based on their oratorical skills, a written essay, an interview, passion and willingness to learn.
Click here to read Dr. King’s Noble Peace Prize speech.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Toni Hunter Named Chesnut Charter Elementary's
2013-2014 "Teacher of the Year"

Dunwoody, GA, January 14, 2014 -- Chesnut Charter Elementary School is pleased to announce that Toni Hunter, the school’s Music Teacher and Technology Assistant, has been named the school’s  2013-14 “Teacher of the Year.” 
Ms. Hunter, a native of Rochester, New York, began her teaching career in 1996 in the Clayton County School System.  She has been a teacher in the DeKalb County School System since 2000, having served as the Music Teacher for Hooper Alexander Elementary School, and the Special Area Grade Chairperson and Technology Liaison for Avondale Elementary School.  She was awarded Avondale Elementary School’s “Teacher of the Year” in 2005. 
Ms. Hunter has performed as a background vocalist for both Aretha Franklin and George Michael.  She has also performed in the chorus at the Atlanta Opera and as a guest vocalist for several churches in Decatur, Georgia.
Ms. Hunter said, “I am passionate about music. I enjoy teaching the students what I believe to be a very diverse and enriched curriculum, and leading a music program that reinforces the students' homeroom lessons.  It is also rewarding to see the children embrace the exposure to different cultures through music.”
Ms. Hunter earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the Crane School of Music of The State University of New York at Potsdam, and her Masters Degree in Instructional Technology from NOVA Southeastern University.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dunwoody High School Academic Quiz Bowl Team
Results from Marist Winter Invitational Tournament

Congratulations to the DHS Varsity Quiz Bowl A team on its performance in the Marist Winter Invitational Tournament (WIT) on Saturday

The WIT is a true invitational tournament in which Marist invites only the top 12 to 15 teams in Georgia, and every team plays each other once. The teams come from all size classifications from A to AAAAAA, but as one would expect, there were more AAAAAA schools.  

Our team of Jacky Zhu, Ryan Polk, Varsha Narendra, Zack Bloomberg, and Captain Thomas Dellaert came in 5th (and actually defeated the 4th place team Norcross head to head). 

In AAAAA, we defeated last year's state champs Bainbridge 255 to 130, and also Cedar Shoals 340 to 180, boding well for the AAAAA state tournament which is in March.  

Senior Thomas Dellaert was the fifth highest scoring player in the tournament (and by extension, in Georgia). The whole team played with a balanced scoring attack. Everyone on the team scored, and in the first half of the day, every one of our players scored in every round!

We did not come away with a trophy, but this may be the biggest acomplishment for the team in the current era of Dunwoody Quiz Bowl. Many thanks to our team members, parents, and alums who have worked so hard to make this possible!