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 2017 DEF Impact Report here or the latest round of funded Teacher Grants here.

  • Moving through Space

    Moving through Space

    How do we really learn a concept? By doing and getting our whole bodies involved! The 2nd grade classes at Westchester Elementary learned all about the seasons, the phases of the moon and the constellations in their Movement through Space expedition. With the help of a DEF grant, performance artist Ericka Shannon came into the classrooms to get the students moving. Students chose which part of the solar system they wanted to model, and the classroom was transformed into a life-size model while they tangibly acted out “orbiting.”  Second-grade teacher Mr. Cordy said, “Adding the element of movement to the expedition caters to a diversity of learning styles and truly engages every child.”

  • West African Drums

    West African Drums

    F.AVE music teacher Nick Brooks wanted to bring World Music Drumming curriculum to his fourth and fifth grade students to give them an opportunity to play non-Western instruments. With a DEF grant, he purchased a collection of djembe and dundun drums that are portable, making it easy for the students to perform in the community to showcase their progress, as well as promote the appreciation of other cultures. The curriculum incorporates the music from West Africa, the Caribbean and South American countries that is taught in an African model of teaching through demonstration, imitation and repetition. Mr. Brooks has also organized an African Drumming Ensemble that meets in the mornings before school.
  • Looking at the Stars

    Looking at the Stars

    As part of their science unit on celestial bodies and their effects on the Earth, the second graders from Glennwood Elementary attended a night-time field trip to Agnes Scott College’s Bradley Observatory where ASC astronomy students lead them on a “sky tour.” A DEF grant helped fund high-powered binoculars for the second graders to use, that will be available for use by the entire Glennwood community.
  • Robot Take-Over

    Robot Take-Over

    Walking down the hall the first week of school at Decatur High and you might see students staring at their phones…but it’s not what you think. This year’s AP Computer Science students are learning coding using Sphero SPRK+ robots and their smartphones. Students use an app on their phone to write code that programs the ball-shaped robots to perform a variety of tasks: navigate a maze, mimic the solar system or even swim across water. Dave Custer, who teachers the class and wrote a DEF grant for the robots, has seen an exponential increase in the number of students now interested in taking the class. “It’s a fun and engaging way to get students interested in coding and working collaboratively,” he said.
  • U-Phone-E-what?


    The Renfroe Middle School Band was in need of a new euphonium, (a brass instrument that is somewhat smaller than a tuba), and Band Director David Williams applied for a DEF grant to help pay for it. With funds raised by the Mead Road Mardi Gras Parade, Renfroe is “tooting its new horn” and putting the new euphonium to good use.
  • Cigar Guitar

    Cigar Guitar

    Pair the science of sound with a hands-on guitar-making activity and you’ve got a recipe for student engagement. Third grade students at Oakhurst Elementary worked in teams to build one-string guitars using cigar boxes and integrated their knowledge of music and science with the practical skills of collaboration, problem-solving, and tool safety. Teachers Cindy Aldridge and Courtney Hartnett applied for a grant to support this rockin’ project.
  • Making Meals & Practicing Skills

    Making Meals & Practicing Skills

    Intervention teacher Desiree Cabrices wanted to give her students a fun activity they could do together every Friday that would help allow them develop motor skills through cooking. With the help of a teacher grant, Ms. Cabrices purchased food items that her students could use to prepare a meal for themselves. Her students looked forward to the weekly cooking activity, and were proud of the practical kitchen skills they were learning that they can apply outside of school.
  • Automatic for the People

    Automatic for the People

    The future is robotics –at least that’s what the students at F.AVE think! The F.AVE Robotics Program has grown exponentially in recent years, and no longer had the capacity to include the 40+ fourth and fifth graders who wanted to join. We wanted to ensure that every student who wanted to participate could join the program. That’s why DEF gave a $1,500 grant that would enable them to support three additional robotics teams.
  • REACH Mentee attends Coding Camp

    REACH Mentee attends Coding Camp

    Eighth grader REACH mentee Maha Sidi, received a DEF grant to attend the Alexia iDTech camp at Georgia Tech this summer. This two-week, overnight camp introduced Maha to the field of electrical engineering and coding principles, as well as provided her with her first opportunity to experience sleep-away camp.
  • Shedding Light on the Matter

    Shedding Light on the Matter

    Children are fascinated about light and darkness and preschool teachers at CHECLC have found a way to turn that natural interest into learning. Thanks to a DEF grant, the preschoolers now have access to a light table that enhances their learning topics on colors, patterns, light and reflection.The light table will allow for small group activities on a variety of learning themes throughout the school year.

  • Dressed for a Fiesta!

    Dressed for a Fiesta!

    Winnona Park Spanish teacher Seňora Ortiz wanted to create a cultural “fiesta” at which her second grade students could celebrate all that they had learned about the Mexican culture and perform for their parents. The students learned traditional Mexican songs and dances, but they didn’t have any traditional costumes for their final performance. A DEF grant helped purchase sombreros for the boys and brightly colored fabric to make festive skirts for the girls. The costumes will now be available for use by the Spanish department for future celebrations.

  • Diversity in Books

    Diversity in Books

    The Intervention team at Clairemont Elementary felt that their existing guided-reading library of leveled books failed to adequately reflect the rich diversity of the school’s population. As a means of engaging their students as well as reinforcing the school’s commitment to the Expeditionary Learning design principles of Diversity and Inclusion, the team purchased book sets from Song Lake Books, a multicultural children’s book publisher, with help from a DEF grant. The new books create more varied reading experiences for the students through the diverse cultures and characters represented, and serve as a tangible way in which the school can celebrate its diversity. Intervention teacher Christie Manasso said, “These books help our students to grow into empathetic, empowered and literate learners, no matter what their background, and takes us another step towards equality and opportunity for all of our students.”

  • Posters for Change

    Posters for Change

    As a part of the Culture for Caring Symposium, sixth graders created digital artwork to promote community awareness on a local or global issue about which they were passionate. Students made full-sized posters using Sketches, a professional art application that helped them learn about the principles of design. Their vibrant, eye-catching art was then transformed into posters using a Canon imageProGraph large-format printer, which was purchased through a DEF grant and will be used for lots of innovative art projects in the years to come.

  • Everyone Can Debate

    Everyone Can Debate

    Thanks to a DEF teacher innovation grant, students in Mr. Fernandez’ 10th grade A.P. U.S. History (APUSH) classes at DHS have been using video cameras to record graded discussions. As part of the curriculum, APUSH students engage in graded discussions in large groups, while being observed by the teacher. The use of video cameras now allow several small groups to have discussions simultaneously. The result has been more equitable participation in discussions, greater student independence, and more contributions from students who are less vocal than others.

  • 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.