(Photo Credit: Atlanta Public Schools)

Atlanta Public Schools Welcomes Eight New Principals

APS school year starts Wednesday

Maria Boynton
July 31, 2018 - 9:36 am
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(Photo Credit: Atlanta Public Schools)

When the doors open for Atlanta Public Schools tomorrow, there will be 8 new principals. They were appointed by APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstaphen for the 2018-2019 school year. 

“Strong schools begin with strong leadership. Effective principals are essential to achieving our vision to become a high-performing district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage and the community trusts the system,” Carstarphen said. “I am thrilled to welcome these outstanding school leaders to Atlanta Public Schools.”

APS says that it has built a strong internal pipeline with an emphasis in school leadership development. As a result, it adds that 75 percent of the 2018-2019 new principals are internal hires. In addition, two of this year’s new principal pool are proud APS graduates.

According to a press release from APS:

Jay Bland is the new interim principal at Morris Brandon Elementary School in Northwest Atlanta, located within the North Atlanta Cluster. Mr. Bland joins Brandon Elementary after spending three years as the assistant principal of Morningside Elementary School. Under his leadership, Morningside won APS’s Attendance Award for having the highest attendance rate in the District for three consecutive years and was recognized as a Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) Platinum Achieving school each year he was there. Mr. Bland also helped Morningside win both the Blue Ribbon and Green Ribbon school designations, becoming the only school in the country that won both in the same year. Prior to stepping into an administrative position, Mr. Bland taught physical education for 10 years at APS’ Price Middle and Sutton Middle schools. Mr. Bland also coached varsity boys’ soccer for seven years, leading North Atlanta High School to the 2011 and 2013 Georgia High School Association state playoffs. Mr. Bland has matriculated at Lincoln Memorial University (educational specialist in curriculum and instruction), Georgia State University (master’s in physical education and leadership certification), and the University of South Carolina (bachelor’s in physical education). 

Emily Boatright is the new principal at Sarah Smith Elementary School in Northeast Atlanta, located within the North Atlanta Cluster. Ms. Boatright most recently served as dean of academics for grades three through six at Westside Atlanta Charter School, where she led efforts to close achievement gaps and ensure equity for all students. She spent three years at APS’ Inman Middle School as assistant principal and interim principal. Under her leadership, Inman increased its College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores by six points in 2015. Prior to holding administrative positions, Ms. Boatright began her career as a high school world history teacher in North Carolina. Since then, she has dedicated more than 15 years of service to Georgia public schools – 12 years spent at Atlanta Public Schools.  In 2013, under Ms. Boatright’s leadership as an instructional coach, APS’ Coan Middle School increased its CCRPI scores by 20 points and led the District in standardized test scores for traditional middle schools. Ms. Boatright earned degrees from Georgia State University (master’s of education) and Sweet Briar College (bachelor’s in history and government).

Octavius Harris is the new principal of Ralph J. Bunche Middle School in Southwest Atlanta, located within the South Atlanta Cluster. A veteran member of the Charger family, Mr. Harris taught mathematics at Bunche from 2006 to 2012. For the past four academic years, Mr. Harris served as assistant principal at APS’ D.M. Therrell High School, where he decreased freshman cohort suspensions by 11 percent, developed a mathematics program to increase student enrollment in accelerated mathematics, and created an after-school program to engage Athletes in Technology and Mathematics (ATM).  His 14-year tenure with APS includes stints as a Teach for America faculty adviser and a mathematics instructional coach at Crawford Long Middle School, where he founded the Men of Long Mentoring Program. Mr. Harris has matriculated at the University of West Georgia (education specialist in educational leadership), Georgia State University (master’s in educational leadership), and Southern Polytechnic State University (bachelor’s in information technology).

Anita Lawrence is the new principal of Bolton Academy in Northwest Atlanta, located within the North Atlanta Cluster. Ms. Lawrence has successfully developed practices for and monitored implementation of world language programs across the Atlanta metropolitan area. She most recently served as Primary Years Program principal at Wesley International Academy, an APS charter school where students receive daily lessons in Mandarin.  As an educational consultant, she developed interdisciplinary Spanish curricular tools and facilitated the opening of the GLOBE Academy, a dual language charter school in DeKalb County. From 2008 to 2013, she coordinated world language and ESOL instruction for the entire APS system, moving the District to compliant in the 2009 Title III federal audit status. During her five-year tenure at APS’ Mays High School, she taught Spanish, chaired the foreign language department, and served as academy leader. Ms. Lawrence has matriculated at Kennesaw State University (educational leadership certification), Simmons College (master’s in urban elementary education), and Brandeis University (Bachelor’s in psychology/Spanish).

Tiffany Momon is the new principal of Cascade Elementary Schoolin Southwest Atlanta, located within the Mays Cluster. Ms. Momon has more than 18 years of combined teaching and administrative education experience – the majority of which she has dedicated to APS. Ms. Momon most recently served as program administrator at Morris Brandon Elementary School, where she co-led the Attendance Committee initiatives that improved overall school attendance rates, ranking second place in the District for the past two years. As Morris Brandon’s math committee administrator, she supported and facilitated initiatives that improved overall math achievement and College and Career Ready Performance Index data during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. Her exemplary work at Boyd Elementary School earned her the APS 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year Award. Ms. Momon has matriculated at Georgia College & State University (education specialist), Georgia State University (master’s of social work) and Spelman College (bachelor’s in education). A proud APS alumna, Ms. Momon graduated from Benjamin Elijah Mays High School, where she holds the 1994 title of Miss Mays.

Ernest Sessoms Jr. is the new principal at Dunbar Elementary School in Southwest Atlanta, located within the Jackson Cluster. For the past three years, he has served as Boyd Elementary School’s assistant principal, where he was awarded APS District 2017-2018 Assistant Principal of the Year. At Boyd, Mr. Sessoms helped to increase the school’s College and Career Ready Performance Index scores by two points in the 2015-2016 academic year and by 11 points in the 2016/2017 academic year. He has also helped to increase End of Grade Assessments by 8.1 percent for grades three through five. Mr. Sessoms began his career in education as a middle school math, science and health teacher in Clover, South Carolina. Since then, he has dedicated more than 14 years to APS in the roles of assistant principal, teacher, instructional coach and site administrator. He has earned degrees from Central Michigan University (master’s in adult education) and the University of South Carolina (bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in elementary education).

Kara Stimpson is the new principal at Jean Childs Young Middle School in Southwest Atlanta, located within the Mays Cluster. For the past four years, she has been principal at Morris Brandon Elementary School, where she moved the school from good to great by increasing itsCollege and Career Ready Performance Index score from 92.4 to 98.8, with gains in all four years. Ms. Stimpson has an extensive background in middle and secondary education. From 2012 to 2014, she served as an assistant principal at APS’ Sylvan Hills Middle School. She also held various positions at the Atlanta Girls’ School. In addition to serving as a new principal mentor, Ms. Stimpson led the APS Middle School Transformation Team and served on the Special Education Superintendent’s Advisory Group. She has matriculated at Georgia State University (educational specialist), Kennesaw State University (master’s in educational leadership), and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (bachelor’s in English and in education).

Yolanda Weems is the new principal at Tuskegee Airmen Global (TAG) Academy in Southwest Atlanta, located within the Washington Cluster. For the past two years, she has served as TAG Academy’s assistant principal, strengthening support and performance of struggling students through reduced class sizes and increased instructional aide. Under her leadership, TAG Academy teachers have the opportunity to collaboratively plan five days per week during protected common planning time. Ms. Weems has been a tenured early childhood educator in the state of Georgia for 20 years. Her previous positions include instructional coach at APS’ Margaret Fain Elementary, curriculum support teacher at Oak Knoll Elementary, as well as a classroom instructor at Seaborn Lee Elementary, where she won Teacher of the Year twice during her 10-year tenure. She has matriculated at Central Michigan University (educational leadership), State University of West Georgia (master’s in educational administration and supervision), and Albany State University (bachelor’s in early childhood education). A proud APS alumna, Ms. Weems attended Venetian Hills Elementary School, Price Middle School and Fulton High School.

Learn more about each principal at https://talkupaps.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/newprincipals2018