There is nothing like the groundbreaking of a new building to put one in mind of the future and expectations of what is to come. Recently, construction ceremonies held for both the new Crabapple Middle School and the Innovation Academy helped set the stage for Fulton County Schools in 2020. The new middle school, set to open in the fall of 2021, is a welcome addition to our community and an exciting place for learning. Additionally, parents across Fulton County should look into the unique opportunities the new STEM focused school will provide. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2020 for the Innovation Academy, and the state-of-the-art building in Alpharetta will open that fall as a professional development facility until the first class begins in 2021.
The prospects for Fulton County Schools in 2020 are bright. The new year will be exciting; however, this time of year also reminds us all of family and community. Sadly, as we come to the anniversary of the tragic loss of one of our Roswell students from suicide, we are also reminded the holidays can be a trial for many families and it is important to support one another.
Fortunately, in our community we have a strong network of organizations that work collaboratively with our schools to address many of the social and emotional needs of our students and provide a wide range of services. With Community Collaboration as one of the tents of our Strategic Plan, we are proud to partner with North Fulton Community Charities, STAR House, Summit Counseling, United Way, the Rotary Club of Roswell, and other organizations to provide a variety of services to families and students.
As a society, we must also focus on at-risk families and students. Early childhood education is a priority for getting these kids off to a better start in school. Educating parents about what students need before they enter the classroom is very important. Through our work with groups like the Children’s Development Academy (CDA) and Georgia Pre-K, Fulton County Schools is creating better understanding about these resources and how parents can prepare their students.
At the other end of the educational cycle, we also have to focus on dropout prevention. All high school students face pressures — grades, peer pressure, bullying, alcohol and drugs — creating high levels of emotional stress. The board has focused on adding resources to help address these needs, but it is never enough. When kids don’t see the connection between their education and their future, they may determine the best option is to leave. We must take time to reach these students, find the causes and help guide them to graduation. Our goal is to help every student graduate ready to reach their goals.
Good news. Heading into 2020 I feel as if we are moving in the right direction with Dr. Looney at the helm. He has valuable experience, shares our priorities, and has had success dealing with these issues. The board and he are personally dedicated to ensuring we are on the right track.