As one of 10 Atlanta Public Schools educators presented with the 2013 Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education Thursday at the Carter Center near downtown Atlanta, Petrello will be using $3,500 of her $7,500 award winnings for her Digital Citizens Online Classroom project.
“The project involves increasing the amount of technology in the classroom so that all students can use computers to create podcasts, [conduct] research and upload presentations,” she said. “This will allow my students to gain more experience using the resources on a deeper level.”
Cescely Hill, executive director of the Buckhead-based nonprofit that gives out the awards, said the awards program is designed to shine a light on the positive work achieved by educators in the district.
“We feel like the best way for kids to have access to an excellent education is to have an excellent educator,” she said.
Garden Hills Principal Tommy Usher described Petrello as an “outstanding” teacher.
“She fully understands the philosophy of International Baccalaureate and operationalizes that belief in her work with her students,” he said. “Additionally, she is uncompromising in her quest for high-quality educational opportunities for all students no matter who they are or where they come from.”
In addition to the money for her classroom project, Petrello has been awarded $1,500 for professional development and $2,500 as a personal stipend.
“I’m hoping to take a Spanish class to strengthen my proficiency in Spanish,” she said. “Garden Hills has a large Spanish-speaking population. I’d also like to attend [International Baccalaureate] training on assessment in schools. I haven’t decided how I will use [the personal stipend] yet, but I'm sure it will involve books and travel.”
Petrello recently celebrated 10 years working for the school district. She joined Teach for America in 2003 and started her career at Slater Elementary School in south Atlanta. Before teaching at Garden Hills, she taught upper elementary classes at Sarah Smith Elementary School and Bolton Academy.
The other 2013 award winners are: principals Dwight Ho-Sang, KIPP WAYS Academy, and Alison Shelton, Centennial Place Elementary School and teachers Jennifer Hill, Brown Middle School; Corendis Hardy, Frederick Douglass High School; Jenny Lockwood, Springdale Park Elementary School; Tiffany Stembridge-Taylor, Booker T. Washington High School; Amber Stewart, KIPP STRIVE and KIPP Vision academies; Brianne Turgeon, Springdale Park Elementary School; and Haena Yoo, Charles Gideons Elementary School.