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| October-November 2011

Metro Atlanta School Systems

Programs to Help Your Child Thrive

by Katie Kelly Bell

Every child is unique, and while some fare better in independent school settings, there are many that thrive in a public school atmosphere. Before you make a decision regarding your child’s education, take a moment to give Atlanta-area public systems a second thought. The system boasts some uniquely tailored programs that just might be the ideal fit for your child.

Magnet Schools

Magnet programs offer unique exposure to special subject areas along with a concentrated curriculum in specific areas of interest. Dekalb County’s schools have 14 magnet programs serving students in disciplines ranging from math, science and technology to foreign languages and the arts.

Atlanta Public Schools has creatively broken down its populations into smaller, more focused units. Carver High School now features four separate schools that focus on specific disciplines: Early College, School of the Arts, School of Health Sciences and Research, and School of Technology. At Maynard H. Jackson, students can concentrate in Fine Arts and Media Communications, Information Technology or Early College Engineering.

Many systems also require magnet students to pursue internships and special research projects as part of their senior year studies. At Cobb County’s Kennesaw Mountain High School Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology, students complete a senior research
project and engage in field experience with a local professional practice, business or institution of higher learning. Students at Marietta’s Wheeler High School Center for Advanced Studies in Science, Math and Technology also must complete an internship or research experience
in the field.

Special Programs

Children with special needs receive highly trained instruction at Dekalb County’s Coralwood
School, a facility that serves students with special needs ages 3-6. The school offers preschool, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes in which students with disabilities are mainstreamed with community students. The school also offers speech therapy, vision therapy, audiology services, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Atlanta Public Schools’ single-gender academies are another avenue for parents seeking an alternative to the co-ed classroom. The Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy for 6th grade girls and the B.E.S.T (Business, Engineering, Science and Technology) Academy for 6th grade boys at Benjamin S. Carson will eventually expand into a grades 6-12 configuration, creating a seamless transition from middle to high school. Several area public systems also offer International Baccalaureate Diploma Programs, a challenging globally recognized curriculum with special focus on mathematics, science and humanities.

Athletics and Laurels

Given the size and scope of most public schools, athletic programs tend to be top-drawer, offering athletes the chance to work with seasoned coaches and compete in everything from baseball, golf and lacrosse to soccer, tennis and, of course, AAAA football.

Several area systems have received recognition and praise for their overall performance and programs. Gwinnett County was awarded the Broad Foundation’s 2010 Broad Award in recognition of student performance and district improvement, while Cobb County’s Dickerson Middle School’s music program won the first-ever Exemplary Performance Award from the Georgia Music Educators Association.