By Rebecca Wallace
Parkside Elementary started the 2017-2018 school year with a new principal and two new assistant principals. Straight from Whitefoord Elementary, Principal Timothy Foster has served eight years as principal and 33 years overall as an educator. He is a resident of Kirkwood.
“My long term goal is for Parkside to become the area school of choice,” said Principal Foster. He explained that the first step to making that happen is to build on the traits that distinguish Parkside from other schools in the cluster: (1) its diverse student population; (2) its high level of school pride; and (3) its strong community engagement.
“I am excited about and committed to the work, with the ongoing support of the community that will ensure that this goal is reached. Parkside has a great future ahead, and I am honored to play a role,” said Mr. Foster.
An Ormewood Park resident and mother of two young children both attending Parkside, Assistant Principal Melissa Hugh-Girdhari (“Ms. H-G”) has 17 years of experience in public education spent in California, South Carolina and Georgia. She spent nine years teaching before becoming a Literacy Instructional Coordinator, coaching and training teachers. She then served in several other training and specialist roles in various areas of the K-12 education system. She most recently served as assistant principal at Warren T. Jackson Elementary.
Assistant Principal Dr. Cynthia Alexander is a native of Shreveport, Lousiana, and has worked in several teaching and administrative capacities in Louisiana and California. She has more than 30 years of experience as an educator, with 14 of those years in Atlanta Public Schools (APS), most recently as the assistant principal at Whitefoord Elementary and as a district Special Education Model Teacher Leader.
“Parkside has gone through incredible growth and change the last five years,” said Leigh Schrope, Parkside’s new PTA President. “We had a steady leader who for three years navigated the transition after our school was impacted by the district’s school closures. When she took a job with the state department of education, we were lucky enough to have an interim who is progressive and saw we were ready for some cultural changes.
“We’re so excited that we now have a strong team of experienced and dedicated leaders—professionals that know our neighborhoods and culture, and by the sheer presence of two APs, bring more resources to our school,” Leigh added.
Some of the changes at Parkside over the last year include recess every day, biweekly curricula-based garden classes for third through fifth graders, a new, all-level reading program with a nationally recognized, research-based approach and uniform-free Fridays. Seeing the school at full capacity, Mr. Foster has added classes and teachers so that the student body can continue to enjoy class sizes of no larger than 22 students per class.
Diverse as the community it represents, Parkside Elementary serves the Grant Park, Summerhill, Boulevard Heights, Ormewood Park, Woodland Hills, Glenwood Park, and Cabbagetown neighborhoods. For more information on Parkside, please call 404-802-4100 or visit www.Atlanta.k12.Ga.US/Parkside and www.facebook.com/ParksideElementaryPTA.