Press "Enter" to skip to content

Building Educational Community in Southeast Atlanta

By K. L. Hester
Last year, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) completed a redistricting process that got an unprecedented number of Atlantans talking about public education in the city. How important are our neighborhood schools? What do we want from them? What can the community bring to the table?
This fall, as yellow school buses pull up at curbs around southeast Atlanta once again, the grassroots educational advocacy group SEACS (Southeast Atlanta Communities for Schools) wants to continue to tap into that energy. In fact, by bringing together the community members and educators it believes are integral to the future of education in southeast Atlanta, SEACS hopes to take the dialogue about our schools to the next level.
The recent redistricting brings a number of new principals to schools in The Porch Press distribution area. At other schools, veteran principals have found themselves welcoming new populations of students due to changes to attendance zones. Two schools in the area—Maynard H. Jackson Jr. High School (MHJHS) and Coan Middle—are housed in temporary locations for 2012-2013.
David White, the long-time APS educator who served as principal at E. Rivers Elementary during its transformation into what he describes as a “school of choice” for the surrounding community, has been named new K-12 Executive Director of Schools for an area that includes much of southeast Atlanta. Opportunities abound for the exchange of ideas about education in the area.
On September 24, SEACS seized the opportunity to introduce the community and many of these educators to each other at a meet-and-greet the group hosted at MLK Jr. Middle School. As educators, interested community members from throughout the area, and at least three Atlanta Public School board members—Brenda Muhammad, Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, and Courtney English—gathered, the words “community” and “collaboration” came up often enough to be almost a mantra.
“Building Educational Community” has become a slogan for SEACS, which was founded in 2010 to encourage and support safe, creative, quality educational opportunities in Southeast Atlanta. Educators at the meet-and-greet, who each had an opportunity to highlight “one best thing going on” at their schools this year and touch briefly on a particular challenge they face, agree.
A number of principals extended open invitations for community members to visit their schools. White, the new Executive Director, spoke of his mission to re-engage people with their public schools and his belief that “we are poised to do amazing things, especially in the Jackson Cluster.” The new principal of Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, Paul Brown, a self-described product of the Atlanta Public Schools who attended Price Middle School, expressed his pride at being back in the area. Don Doran, principal of Drew Charter School and himself a resident of southeast Atlanta, stressed how important he feels it is that the area be an education destination.
SEACS embraces the idea that “as taxpayers in this community, we all are stakeholders” in education. The group sees the exchange and dissemination of information about education as one of its missions. As transitional SEACS board member James Palmer put it as September’s meet-and-greet drew to a close: “Get involved, show up, be part of the conversation.”
SEACS meetings, held on the third Thursday of each month, serve as a clearinghouse for educational news and offer opportunities to get involved with schools across the Jackson cluster. The group, which has been soliciting applications for board members this summer, will present a slate of candidates at its October 18 meeting at a location to be announced.
To stay in the know about educational developments in southeast Atlanta, please visit

Comments are closed.

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.