The DeKalb Neighbor was part of the visit to schools in Region 2 — Midvale Elementary, Tucker Middle and Tucker High schools. At each stop, the principals and staff members greeted the group with an introduction and separated the group in two to observe classrooms.
These three schools have a unique setup, in that all are part of the International Baccalaureate program, which is normally geared toward high school ages.
“We look at educating the whole child,” said Tucker Middle IB coordinator Ruth Mason. “This is a philosophy laid on top of the local curriculum.”
In addition to the IB program at Tucker Middle, the school is also striving to become the first science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] school in Georgia, following a review in May.
Before participants departed for the tour, Superintendent Michael Thurmond touted the diversity of the students who attend district schools.
Midvale elementary Principal Susan Wilson said its student population includes homeless children, children who live in extended-stay hotels and those whose parents are college professors or own businesses. There are also several self-contained special education classrooms.
At Tucker High, presentations were given after the school tour on the robotics team, work-based learning and the school’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Sean Dunn, head of the school’s Habitat chapter, said students have helped to raise more than $165,000 for local affiliates. Students volunteer for builds about once a month, with many unselfishly giving up their spring breaks to journey to builds across the country. Each student has to raise $500 to attend the alternate spring break trip and this year Dunn said they will be going to Georgetown, S.C.
“We’re instilling a sense of mission and a sense to give back to communities,” said Dunn of the program.
During a panel discussion after the tours, Thurmond said the political narrative is much more negative than reality.
“We are committed to work with each and every child and we need people to discard the stereotypes and negativity,” he said.