Students showcase skills at Academic Gallery



Scores of Clayton County residents and school system officials flooded the hallways of the Board of Education Administrative Complex, Tuesday, where the school district hosted the first of four “Academic Galleries.”

The purpose of the events, according to Deputy Superintendent Stefanie Phillips, is to showcase the learning process that takes place in schools, as teachers engage students in rigorous, “real world,” performance tasks that are aligned with Georgia Performance Standards.

“It’s really important that we document the progress our students are making,” said Phillips. “We [need to] validate the things they’re learning, and show them the connection between the real world and the curriculum.”

A main feature of the “galleries” is the lineup of display boards on which students and teachers, from each of the schools represented, showcase special work and projects that demonstrate to the community and parents what students have been learning in school, as evidence of their mastery of the curriculum.

The participating schools in this first round of galleries were: Anderson Elementary, Arnold Elementary, Brown Elementary, Callaway Elementary, Church Street Elementary, East Clayton Elementary, Edmonds Elementary, Harper Elementary, Babb Middle, Lovejoy Middle, Adamson Middle, Forest Park High, Drew High, Mt. Zion High School of Fine Arts, and Jackson Elementary School of Fine Arts.

Things got started with a song-and-dance routine by Jackson Elementary School of Fine Arts students, under the direction of Kyle Ward, the dance instructor at the school. The group performed three “patriotic-themed” songs for the crowd –– “Yankee Doodle,” “Grand Old Flag,” and Beyonce Knowles’ “Move Your Body.”

Cardell Smart, 9, a part of the performing-arts program at Jackson Elementary, said his favorite performance of the evening was Beyonce’s “Move Your Body.” During the gallery, Smart even sang a rendition of the United States Marine Core Hymn, for Superintendent Edmond Heatley, who responded by saying: “As a marine, that touched me near and dear to my heart.”

Kenneth Glisch, a student at Babb Middle School, represented his school’s Language Arts class at the gallery, describing a group project that was called, “Students of Story Tellers.” He said the project’s objective was to compile all the stories he and his classmates had written into one book.

“We wrote an autobiographical narrative about a time in our life that we would never forget,” said Glisch, who added that the class is hoping that writing this book will open the door for them to realize a dream of getting to New York and appearing on the TV show, “Good Morning America.”

When asked about the importance of the Academic Gallery, he replied, “This is very important to me, because that means my teacher thought we were the best in the class.”

Lindiwe Ngubeni, a gifted-science teacher at Kendrick Middle School, said –– in her opinion –– the gallery allows students to engage with others in the community, aside from just their peers. “It puts them in a similar situation that we experience when we go on [job] interviews,” said Ngubeni. “And students can see how their academics transcend over into their lives.”

Heatley said his goal for the Academic Gallery effort is to have a hall large enough where all the schools in the district can be represented at one time. That would allow the community to come in and see what students, county-wide, are accomplishing.

The next Academic Galleries are scheduled for the following dates: Nov. 15; Feb. 7; and May 1. All galleries will be held at the Board of Education Administrative Complex, located at 1058 Fifth Avenue, in Jonesboro, from 5 p.m., to 6:45 p.m.