Our Impact

Throughout the year, every student in Decatur’s schools is helped in some way by the Decatur Education Foundation. Many students are helped in significant ways — leveling the playing field by providing a home computer, for example, or receiving a college scholarship. View the 2016 DEF Impact Report here or the latest round of funded Teacher Grants here.

  • Second Grade Bloggers

    Second Grade Bloggers

    Oakhurst students in Ms. Whelchel’s second grade class use two classroom iPads to write blogs and communicate with their parents about what they are learning. Using an app called SeeSaw, students can write, draw pictures, take photos of their school projects and share them with their parents. The kids love using the technology to practice their writing, and the parents love to receive updates directly from their students.

  • Minute to Win It Skills

    Minute to Win It Skills

    As a means of providing an inclusive activity for all students, Glennwood Elementary P.E. teacher Chester Everett was awarded a grant for speed stacking cup sets. With them, he created several age-appropriate activities that encourage teamwork and friendly competition among the students, while helping them develop hand-eye coordination, focus and concentration.

  • Partnership for Career Achievement

    Partnership for Career Achievement

    This new mentoring program is guiding 12 seniors to vocational/trade training and job prospects. Each student is paired with a community advocate who will help the student navigate through senior year and subsequent training programs for solid job prospects. Students who successfully complete the program are eligible for scholarship awards to cover the costs of their chosen training programs.

  • Cookies for a Cause

    Cookies for a Cause

    Drew Ann Tucciarone, Special Education teacher at Renfroe Middle School wanted to give the students in her Moderate Special Education class the opportunity to acquire some practical, real-life skills by establishing a student-run Cookie Gram business. Through a DEF grant, Ms. Tucciarone invested in an Otis Spunkmeyer Oven and the supplies to help them launch their business. The students have been developing basic domestic skills involved in preparing, baking, and packaging the cookies. Through weekly sales, the students have earned their first paychecks and are learning the basics of monetary exchange for goods. Ms. Tucciarone feels this project has been successful not only for providing her students with hands-on experiences, but it has also increased their involvement in the school community.

  • Hammering Home the Basics

    Hammering Home the Basics

    Pre-K classrooms at CHECLC now have a woodworking learning center that allows some of our youngest learners to work on a group building project that develops their hand-eye coordination while teaching them some real-life skills. At the end of the year, the classes will have built a classroom sign.

  • Motivated to Move

    Motivated to Move

    The students in Westchester Elementary’s self-contained, special needs classroom now have some adapted P.E. equipment that allows them to move their bodies, and experience success in developing their fine and gross motor skills. Their teacher LaTonya Henry felt the specialized equipment would motivate and engage her students so effectively that they wouldn’t even realize they were “working their bodies.” The students have also found that having equipment specific for their classroom is especially fun and collaborative when the third-grade students are invited to participate.

  • The Library Becomes a Battlefield

    The Library Becomes a Battlefield

    Renfroe Middle School Media Specialist Benjamin Lynch was awarded a teacher grant to purchase curriculum-aligned board games. These social games encourage friendly competition while reinforcing the concepts the students learn in class. Games that require role play and interaction provide alternative ways in which students can engage with the curriculum. Mr. Lynch said, “It is one thing to read about the American Revolution, but quite another to reenact a scenario from that time period and confront the challenges that each side faced.

  • Reading Can Be Fun

    Reading Can Be Fun

    Oakhurst Elementary kindergarten teacher Kendria Paden was awarded a DEF grant to expand upon her classroom’s Fundations phonics program to help her students improve their retention of letter acquisition and sound recognition. The additional materials encourage students to use more gross motor, fine motor and sensory skills during reading time, and get them excited to practice their handwriting.

  • Flexible Seating for Better Focus

    Flexible Seating for Better Focus

    Through our Teacher Innovation Grants, elementary school students across the district now have a variety of seating alternatives to meet their learning and sensory needs. Research has shown that providing flexible seating options in the classroom improves focus, reduces disruptive behavior and increases productivity. These Clairemont Elementary students are just three of many who can now choose how and where they complete their independent work.

  • Opportunity Partnership

    Opportunity Partnership

    In our ongoing quest to close the opportunity gap, we have established Opportunity Partnership, a new mentoring program that pairs third graders from the Decatur Housing Authority community with an adult mentor, who will serve as a matchmaker between the student and the enrichment opportunities that exist in our community, to explore their interests and develop useful life skills. Here third-grader Hamza meets his mentor, Mike Killeen, on the Opportunity Partnership match day. (Photo: Beate Sass)

  • Stride Ahead

    Stride Ahead

    Last summer, 36 students with special needs received grants for summer enrichment. Oakhurst student Katie O’Keefe attended a therapeutic riding program, Stride Ahead, which helped her strengthen core muscles, improve balance and develop her sensory awareness.

  • Which Came First?

    Which Came First?

    Pre-schoolers at College Heights get into a scientific mindset with their study of the life cycle of chickens. A DEF grant funded an incubator, fertilized eggs and supplies needed to care for the chicks for a short time after they hatched. Students were encouraged to ask questions about the project and then embarked as a class to find the answers.

  • Strings Petting Zoo

    Strings Petting Zoo

    Rarely do kids get a chance to touch and hold expensive stringed instruments, but that is exactly what they did at the instrument “petting zoo” sponsored by DEF. Fourth and fifth graders got the chance to play a violin, viola and cello with help from orchestra instructor Jessica Messere. Thanks to funds supplied to DEF from the BBQ and Blues Festival and the Decatur Beer Festival, these students will be able to join the orchestra group at F.AVE. That’s music to our ears!

    Nurto Abdikadir learns about the violin from Orchestra Instructor Jessica Messere.

  • Magical Library

    Magical Library

    Students at the 4/5 Academy love to read and share their literary finds with friends. The media staff at F.AVE thought that a little free library (LFL) would allow students to share their love of books with the whole community. With funds from a DEF grant, they designed and built a fabulous Hogwarts-themed library that will reside on the lawn of the school. We may just see books magically fly from the multi-roomed LFL and appear in students’ hands! The LFL honors Marty McKinnon, one of the school’s long-time, beloved media clerks who passed away last year.

    F.AVE student Jeremiah Madison poses with the school’s new Harry Potter-themed Little Free Library.

  • A Didgeri-what?

    A Didgeri-what?

    Sixth graders at Renfroe Middle School study Australia and its aboriginal cultures as part of their humanities curriculum. DEF supplied funds to bring Didgeridoo Revolution’s teaching artists to the school for an interactive workshop with the entire grade. The artists taught about the didgeridoo, its history and importance. After they demonstrated the methods for achieving the range of unique sounds produced by the didgeridoo, the students experimented on “modern” didgeridoos made from PVC pipes.
    Sixth grader Grayson Bauer plays a didgeridoo duet with instructor Tanya Gerard.

  • CTI in the Community

    CTI in the Community

    Career Technical Instruction is offered at Decatur High School to help students with special needs to develop life and career skills. Teresa Cross, CTI teacher, applied for a grant so that her students could attend the Georgia State Fair with students from the two other organizations of the Career Academy. Decatur High School encourages special education and regular education students to interact in academic and social settings. This grant provided that opportunity and also served to show CTI students how to use community resources and services effectively.
    CTI students and their DHS friends attended the Georgia State Fair together.