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.

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    Flexible Seating for Better Focus

    alternative seating at Clairemont Elementary

    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.

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    Opportunity Partnership

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    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)

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    Stride Ahead

    ses-katie-okeefe

    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.

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    Which Came First?

    which-came-first-chickens

    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.

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    Strings Petting Zoo

    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.

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    Magical Library

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    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.

  • digiri-what

    A Didgeri-what?

    digiri-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.

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    CTI in the Community

    cti-connects-w-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.

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    Career Edventure: Basic Air Academy

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    Career Edventure: Basic Air Academy

    DHS student Jack Irwin-Weyant spent a week at EAA Basic Air Academy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he had a comprehensive experience in aeronautics. His instruction included flight simulations as well as lectures about aerodynamics, mechanical engineering, aviation law and navigation.

    “I learned just how challenging it is to take off and land a plane. The simulation was so convincing that sometimes I forgot I wasn’t actually in a plane. While in the rocket design workshop, I enjoyed working with my hands and learning to use new tools. That experience has caused me to also consider a career in aerodynamic engineering.

    The highlight of my EAA experience was my plane ride in a Cessna 117. My flight instructor, Peaches, took off and landed but gave me the controls once we were airborne. I can now see how my physics class at Decatur High School applies to aviation. I plan to continue my aviation journey throughout this school year.”

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    Fueling Scientific Inquiry

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    Fueling Scientific Inquiry

    Understanding the different types of energy is a key part of the eighth grade curriculum. David Taube, a science teacher at Renfroe Middle School, wanted his students to have hands-on learning about alternative fuels. DEF funds purchased a solar/hydrogen demonstration unit and three hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars for his classroom. With these units, students gain firsthand experience with clean, sustainable energy technologies.
    Lucas Schaffer and Sophia Taylor watch as their teacher David Taube uses a hydrogen fuel cell car to demonstrate how energy is being transformed from one type to another.

  • REap camp

    Reaping the Benefits

    REap camp

    Reaping the Benefits

    This summer 20 Decatur kids enjoyed a free reading camp as they helped 16 committed public school teachers practice proven reading methods during a training offered by REAP. REAP is a Decatur-based non-profit that improves reading proficiency in public school students through free teacher training and enrichment. DEF is proud to support REAP with grant funds that helped cover the cost for this summer experience – a win/win for teachers and for Decatur kids.

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    ESOL Celebration

    2016-05-24 07.35.49

    ESOL Celebration

    Decatur Education Foundation supports a variety of CSD events that celebrate students and teachers throughout the year. Each spring, families of students who are enrolled in the English as a Second Language program are invited to get together for a picnic to celebrate their learning and build community.

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    Littlest Learners

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    Littlest Learners

    Quality early childhood education is a major factor that leads to success in school, which is why DEF supports a number of initiatives in partnership with College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center. Low-income families enrolled in the center’s Head Start and early Head Start classrooms can opt for an extended day, thanks to funding from DEF. The foundation also funds a full scholarship spot in the one-year-old classroom and provides classroom grants that support critical developmental learning.

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    Saying Yes to Read Live

    Read-Live---Semones

    Saying Yes to Read Live

    This year, thanks to the generosity of the Decatur City Church, all of the K-3 elementary schools of City Schools of Decatur got a boost to their reading programs. Each school received a grant from DEF to cover the cost of Read Live, an online program designed specifically to help students improve reading fluency and comprehension. Julie Semones, a teacher at Winnona Park, reported that in a short time, she has seen an increase in reading engagement from her students. She and her students love the immediate feedback the program offers at the end of a session. “YES!” is a word that Julie hears often during her Read Live sessions.
    William Duke and his teacher Julie Semones

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    Decatur’s High-Q

    Academic-Bowl---Hi-Q

    Decatur’s High-Q

    Members of the Decatur High School Academic Bowl Team participated in the city-wide High-Q tournament sponsored by WSB-TV last spring. They advanced to the top eight teams after their victory over Marist in February. The larger DHS team also competes in interscholastic Academic Bowl competitions throughout the state and has qualified to take two squads to the National Academic Quiz Tournament to be played in Dallas in May. DEF is happy to help support the DHS teams with a grant to cover their registration fees.
    Noah Hull, Nathaniel Wolff, Joey Emerson, and Eric Broner

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    Not in Decatur Anymore

    Rock-Eagle-Canoes(Lance)-2

    Not in Decatur Anymore

    Renfroe seventh graders travel to Rock Eagle every year for an outdoor experience that includes personal and team challenges designed to create lasting bonds forged from shared experience. When students are unable to supply gear essentials for themselves (like sleeping bags and warm clothing), DEF is able to step in and help so that no student is left out of this wonderful experience.