By Curt Yeomans
Volunteers from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport can put a feather in their cap.
The Department of Aviation was recognized by Clayton County Public Schools on Oct. 6 for being the largest provider of volunteers for the school system's Day ONE celebration.
Day ONE is an annual event for the school system involving parents and volunteers from local businesses, organizations and agencies, who stand at the front door of Clayton County schools to welcome students back on the first day. They offer words of encouragement and some school supplies to students as they enter.
The airport had 15 volunteers split up between North Clayton High School and M.D. Roberts Middle School, two of the airport's partners in education. Tracy Gilbert, the airport's director of special events and programs, and Jean Davis, the airport's administrative analyst of governmental affairs, accepted the award on the Department of Aviation's behalf.
"We're involved in the schools because we value all of our community stakeholders, and we see children as a vibrant piece of our future," said Gilbert.
Rhonda Burnough, the school system's community relations liaison, said the airport has been a strong supporter for several years. In addition to Day ONE, the Department of Aviation also is a participant in the celebrity reading program every spring. The reading program uses business and government officials to read books to Clayton County pupils.
Burnough said Hartsfield-Jackson is a model for how businesses should take an active role in their communities. "They are a very strong supporter of our schools," she said. "Whenever we've asked them for their help, they've never turned us down. They always make sure someone comes out when we need them," she said.
Hartsfield-Jackson has provided speakers for several career and mentoring programs at North Clayton and M.D. Roberts as a result of being a Partner in Education for both schools. North Clayton, Forest Park and Riverdale are also some of the local high schools that participate in the airport's annual job-shadowing-day program in the spring.
North Clayton also participated in a Hispanic Heritage program organized by the airport in September. Judy Nickel, the coordinator of work-based learning at North Clayton, echoed Burnough's sentiments about the airport's value as a partner in education. Hartsfield-Jackson representatives also will participate in a work-based learning seminar for all Clayton County high school students on Oct. 28, in Jonesboro.
"They've always been superior with the number of events they've helped coordinate," said Nickel. "We feel very blessed to have them as a partner in education." Hartsfield-Jackson is also a partner in education with South Atlanta High School from Atlanta Public Schools and Tri-Cities high schools, and Bethune Elementary School from the Fulton County School System.