Degrees and Certifications:
Elementary Education - Indiana University Master's in Leadership - Butler University
Mrs. Audrey Sofianos: Principal
From the Principal's Desk
January 26, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/26/2022 3:00:00 PM
Please check your child's bookbag for MAP scores today! These were to be sent home with all students today. Please contact your teacher directly if you have any questions. Our Instructional Coaches included a lot of information explaining each report in the letter you will receive today, along with the scores.
For surveillance testing today, Viral Solutions reported ZERO positive results! YES!!!!! Extremely encouraging!
What do the BIG KIDS - our amazing 5th graders - do at recess? Here is a glimpse:
They play both soccer and football in parallel areas of the field. There definitely was an imaginary line between the two and they make it work! These new soccer nets look great, thanks PTA! I hope the stray jacket did not end up in the lost and found.
The kids play with the newly installed ball bucket! Some kids do many things during recess time - and they definitely do that in fluid groups as they move throughout the play area. This was a stop today for this group - and thank you to PTA for this new purchase!
These students socialize while they write, read and draw! I love these cozy areas we have out there for our kids.
Another purchase by PTA - the Gaga pit! The kids love this, as you can see! Recess is the time of day for kids to play, run, interact, and just enjoy our beautiful Atlanta weather!
January 25, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/25/2022 2:40:00 PM
It is the day after our 100th day celebration...you know what that means... 101 Dalmations Day!! Love the creativity of our teachers - yet another example, as this kindergarten student is filling up her water bottle at one of our bottle filler stations. Sometimes I think about these students when they are adults - and the things they will remember about Morningside. It will be the experiences, the creativity, and the sense that special and fun things happened here at MES! Speaking of bottle filler stations, PTA purchased a few for us last year, and APS has provided the rest throughout the building.
In Mrs. Waye's 2nd grade class, this student is leading the math talk to start the day - with a little help from the teacher! They have now ventured into "hundred plus one" space and the student is demonstrating one way that can be represented with pencils. I love the seating choices this teacher has provided - there are chairs, stools, seats that can be high or low, and special seats made partially out of an exercise ball that is comfy and a little squishy.
It has been a year since we re-opened our school - today! Last year, we set up a "Staff Sanctuary" in a conference room, so that teachers and staff could come and get coffee, have a space to take a mask break, get a snack, and just take a pause within the school day. It was so frequently visited that we have now moved that Staff Sanctuary to a larger space, more open and with a recent makeover by PTA. Mr. Baron also adds his special touch and ensures the PTA provided coffee and snacks are accessible to staff each day! Thank you PTA!
5th grade science in Ms. Taylor's class was full of excited energy today as the kids completed their experiment on mass, sugar and gum! It was a top secret event - gum is not usually allowed in schools - but all for a good educational purpose, as students explore and predict the mass of different sorts of gum - and even what happens after it is chewed!! Great use of both the scientific method and PPE during fun activities.
January 24, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/24/2022 2:25:00 PM
Happy 100th Day of School!! Our Kinder and 1st graders especially had a fun filled day - one kinder student remarked this was the fastest school day ever! See several pictures below, with a spotlight on our kindergarten students and classes.
Students were greeted with special decorations in both the kinder and 1st grade hallways, and planned activities in all classes across the grade level.
The children in kindergarten had fun creating their 100th day shirts! Awesome work families - 100 of some image or thing is creatively displayed. Students in Mrs. Grier's class also made some special hats for the day - these students are "100 days BRIGHTER!"
Mrs. Georges' class was getting ready to organize for an activity on the carpet, so all wanted to get into this picture and proudly show their 100 day attire! It is so fun to see the younger kids and their excitement on this special day each year.
Students are working on math for this 100th day - creating ten strips with ten objects on each strip. Lots of counting and use of these manipulatives in Mrs. Schill's class.
In Mrs.Snapp's class, students are doing the same activity, and are now taking the ten strips of ten objects to make really cool hats!
Students in Mrs. Huff's room working on 100 day art and other projects. "Hip hip hooray, it's the 100th day!"
Of course our amazing MES teachers not only planned these activities for all students across the classrooms, but they had some fun planning their own attire too! Mrs. Baxter-Holmes and Mrs. Leake in their special shirts - of course made even more special and full of sparkles by the creative Mrs Leake!
For surveillance testing today with Viral Solutions, we had no shortage of tests! Viral Solutions reported one positive student and one positive staff. Our next testing day is Wednesday, January 26th, 2022.
January 21, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/21/2022 3:45:00 PM
Today's blog is later than usual - and a little shorter! Next week, I will continue the daily blog and will do my best to get it out by noon and shorten it to better achieve that goal.
We had what is hopefully our last virtual only Principal Talk! I am planning that the next one, 2/22/22 at 5pm is an IN-PERSON meeting. We had quite a crowd virtually today as we discussed the latest school news. This includes the newly announced decision that we are remaining at MES@Inman for one more year, 22-23. Please see the attached presentation from today's Principal Talk for more information here.
Here is a great picture of kids to inspire you for the weekend. This is at the newly formed Board Game Club!! Mrs. Mellick is sponsoring this club and they were learning to play "Ticket to Ride", a pretty cool game! Mrs. Mellick is always thinking of fun ways for kids to find ways to connect with one another and build friendships. Maybe your child(ren) can pull out a fun board game this weekend for family and friends - it is going to be cold outside!
January 20, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/20/2022 2:15:00 PM
Looking forward to the Noon Principal Talk tomorrow, 1/21/22! Thank you for the questions that have already been submitted, and please see yesterday's blog for that link to submit a question.
Yesterday was a lovely day, and Morningside After School kids were out in force on the play area! There is a large piece of land near the play structure - no it is not turf, but kids can run and jump and play soccer! I love watching our younger students play a team sport. It is fascinating to really watch the kids to see how they develop in their understanding of the rules, teach these rules and processes to each other and then grow in listening and depending upon one another. At the end of the day, they figure it out and have fun with each other in the process!
First grade teacher and team lead Ms. Hamilton helps a student with his writing piece for today. For "Thoughtful Thursday", first graders were reflecting on something that has been challenging for them. One student was writing about the challenge of cursive while another was writing about the difficulties he faces with building something. Writing is really "reading from the inside out" and our first graders start with a writing activity almost every day.
Mrs. Caradona is one of our incredible paraprofessionals who does just about everything around here! You will see her at carpool, covering classrooms, helping in the clinic, doing lunch duty and assisting on surveillance testing days - just for starters! Here she is delivering new PPE supplies to teachers - hand sanitizer, N95 masks for staff, and precious Lysol wipes!
It is a yummy burger, potatoes, milk and an orange today for lunch. This 3rd grader is hungry and ready to eat! If you ever need to see the lunch menu, Atlanta Public Schools nutrition website now has breakfast and lunch listed by school - check out the menu here.
This made me smile and laugh - which is needed a lot these days! Here are some after-care students who were watching the comings and goings in the afternoon at our school. UPS was delivering, teachers were leaving school for the day, and parents were arriving to pick up their student(s). Sometimes, kids play by observing their surroundings and they are fascinated by what an adult may consider the most normal thing. This is a perfect example of why I love working with children - all day long I am energized by their thoughts, their views, and their perspectives. It really feels close to magical!
January 19, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/19/2022 1:45:00 PM
Please join us for the Principal Talk this Friday, January 21st at Noon! The zoom link will be sent via the Digital Dolphin, and will be live streamed to our MES YouTube Channel and available for viewing there at any time. We will share 2nd semester highlights and the latest information from Morningside! You can Submit questions here until Friday at 9am, and we will do our best to cover them all when we virtually gather.
From surveillance testing today, we had 1 student and 0 staff where Viral Solutions reported positive results. As the Viral Solutions team arrived this morning for our 7:15am Wednesday surveillance testing, we were told that they did not have enough COVID tests to administer to all students with consent today. From further communications via email with Viral Solutions, they shared the following information:
- In recent weeks, they have experienced an unprecedented number of supply shortages and shipping delays/cancellations.
- Unfortunately, an anticipated shipment did not arrive yesterday.
- They ultimately made the decision to utilize their remaining supply in order to provide an abbreviated testing session at Morningside rather than cancel altogether.
We made the quick decision to utilize all tests available (200 tests) by testing staff, along with a random selection of students with consent. Our team used a random number generator program to select students from across all grades for testing, utilizing each of the COVID tests provided. From a previous blog (1/7/22), I shared that we are making decisions with a two-week time horizon, and we are ending our 2nd week! This will at least give us a partial picture, as we make decisions regarding mitigation moving forward based upon surveillance, self-report data, and the wider community spread level. I will share more about that in tomorrow's blog!
Sometimes a student and teacher have a brief moment that is NOT focused on physical distancing! 2nd Grade Teacher Ms. Daniels ran into a former student in the 3rd grade hallway during surveillance testing. She could sense a moment of connection was needed. The student - teacher relationship is so powerful and doesn't just end when the school year does. This example shows how Ms. Daniels and our teachers remain allies and supporters as the students move through the grades at MES and beyond.
It is PE time for Kindergarten! Kids can't wait to run in that big beautiful gym!! Here they are warming up as they get ready to play some hockey under the leadership of Coach Brinkley and Coach Corso.
Here's what hockey looks like in 1st grade PE class! A little later in the day, 1st graders are maneuvering through the cones as they run, bend, twist, control an object and build muscle while holding the hockey stick - it is challenging and they love it!
January 18, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/18/2022 12:55:00 PM
On Sunday, I pictured the kids of Morningside outside in the wet snow - building their snowpeople, snow forts, and having snowball fights! I hope that some of those pictures have ended up on our MES Dolphin Community FB page! Our teachers have jumped right back today, here is what is happening this early afternoon at Morningside:
Mrs. K. Daniels 5th Grade Class is working on Compare and Contrast Research Papers. Even at our highest grade, I see teachers working one on one with students, encouraging them to choose their best learning space in the class to work - even if it is back to the carpet!
Next door in Dr. Lowe's classroom, they are engaged in an activity about brains at play after learning about how their brains work with even a bit of neuroscience research. I love seeing the creativity of teachers - in 5th grade sitting on your desk is cool, and there is a ball about to be tossed as they build further class connection and teamwork around the topic!
Looks like there is a big test on Friday for Ms. Taylor's 5th grade science class. Nestled between the deer antlers, volcano artwork, chameleon poster and tiki torches, these two students are working hard in preparation.
In Mr. Gillot's 3rd grade music class, students are learning the ukulele! The music teachers have found this great resource to bring into the General Music class. All students can participate in learning notes and chords, how to hold an instrument - and make music together!
Look at this super use of the promethean board - Mr. Gillot is showing up close the strings needed for what they are learning to play.
Down the hall, Mrs. Relyea's 3rd grade music class is also learning the ukulele. Bravo, I love to see this evidence of teamwork and knowing that this entire 3rd grade is having a wonderful music making experience. Teaching this at the 3rd grade prepares students for the responsibility of their own instrument. They learn how to handle and care for the instrument during class, as well as how to play an instrument as a part of a group. I wish I had time to sit in and learn myself!
January 14, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/14/2022 12:25:00 PM
In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, here is one of his many inspiring quotes that resonates with me related to service and our relationships with one another.
"We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
To honor his legacy, Monday is a national day of remembrance, reflection, service, and connection within our communities. I know that staff and families will be participating in the many activities offered both virtually and in-person across our city while honoring this national holiday. Thankful to Dr. King for his inspiration!
During this weekend, the weather forecast is calling for cold and snow. This little kindergartner will be ready for whatever the weather brings! She is all bundled up and full of cuteness as she heads outside for the morning recess today!
Teachers Ms. Nelson (EIP), Mrs. Oglesby (ESL), Instructional Coach Howard, and 2021-22 MES Teacher of the Year Mrs. Stroud (5th Reading/ELA) sharing a moment of connection and friendship after school yesterday. It was Delta Sigma Theta Founders Day, a national service sorority that is dedicated to many things, among them academic excellence and public service.
1st Grade Teacher Ms. Hamilton snapped this picture of colleague Ms. Moore working with a small group. Thanks Ms. Hamilton, great shot! Did you know that Ms. Moore is a former gifted teacher, with a huge passion for reading instruction? As she knew we might have more student needs this year related to reading development, she joined the 1st grade team. Teamwork among staff is important at MES, as we do all we can to help our kids.
While working in my office yesterday afternoon, I heard music and movement... I ran out to find kindergarten teacher Ms. Huff and the "Huff Puffs"! They were dancing their way to recess with the song "I Like to Move It". A picture does not do this justice, I will get this on video someday soon. Ms. Huff creates an amazing culture of caring, learning, and teamwork. Her saying is "Once a Huff Puff, always a Huff Puff", and she gives each child a littly puff pom pom - and I can attest I have seen 5th graders still have that on their bags!
I have heard from both teachers and parents that they are really enjoying the glimpses of what is happening across the school. I will continue the blog next Tuesday - Friday, January 18 - 21!
January 13, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/13/2022 1:45:00 PM
Here is some info about the TEST TO STAY program as we understand it! This was shared with our teachers at our Staff Meeting on Tuesday and created by us to summarize what we have reviewed.
TEST to STAY
STEP ONE: Positive case identified at school (self-report or surveillance)
STEP TWO: Identify close contacts
- VACCINATED No Symptoms, May Remain at School (Confirmed in GRITS and/or VAX Documentation on File from Parents)
- UNVACCINATED No Symptoms, can be evaluated for TEST TO STAY. If Surveillance Testing day and child has consent, child may stay if negative test. If no consent or non-Surveillance Testing day, child sent home per APS quarantine guidelines. Parent can seek outside testing from Private or Govt. Entity and provide that to the school within the quarantine period. Please ensure the report has the student’s name, date of birth, collection date, and test result.
(At-Home tests parents administer themselves, do not qualify for Test to Stay. There must be a final test result report from a location or organization.) Special note: We will work with parents of school identified close contacts with no symptoms under quarantine, who have consented to surveillance, if the quarantine child needs access to a surveillance test. Please contact School Business Manager Brian Baron to secure an appointment and location to bring your child for a surveillance test. APS also has locations open five days per week for surveillance testing.
If your child is not vaccinated, I highly recommend you start that process! In addition, providing consent for surveillance will ensure an unvaccinated child without symptoms and a negative test can remain in school if ever identified as a close contact during our Monday and Wednesday testing days. If your child is vaccinated without symptoms, he or she can remain at school, even if identified as a close contact. I love these new processes - more kids at schools MAKES ME VERY HAPPY!
Speaking of happy, look at the recess fun with 1st grade! Running, climbing, sliding - masks optional of course!
Old school is sometimes the best choice! We have two 3rd grade experts here in PE - even one with a double hula hoop! If you encourage your kids to research how "old school" hula hoops really are, it is actually quite fascinating!
5th Grade Math students working through it together at a tiny table in Ms. Petway's room!
4th graders love lunch time here at MES! Let's hear it for the teachers - you see Sra. Connolly shifting gears from Spanish teacher to lunch duty - our team moves the trash cans through the aisles as kids are finishing up. Also note the readers you can see in this picture - even though this is also a social time, kids have choice. Morningside is a place where kids love books, I can't say no to that!
January 12, 2022Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 1/12/2022 12:55:00 PM
Let's Hear it for the Teachers!
Each day, this school is filled with teaching excellence and LOTS of learning! Our teachers truly love our MES kids and have them as the focus. I see it in so many ways - here are a few pictures to give you another glimpse of what I witness on a daily basis.
Counselor Mellick and a team of teachers greet students off the bus, welcoming them to school! I could also hear this bus driver telling each student by name to have a great day at school! When you work at a school, every staff member really has an element of teacher in their job, no matter the official position or title.
Teachers help kids all day long! 4th grade teacher Ms. Nelli is fixing a notebook for a student in this picture. Ms. Nelli arrives at school early - so early that I am sure some of our students are still sleeping! There is lots of evidence like this at MES of teachers' commitment to our kids.
Teachers model physical distancing while checking in with colleagues. We all strive to have at least one best friend at work, a key employee engagement component. Ms. Taylor and Mr. Bookspun are MES veterans and both have shown that love for our school and our kids through the years in so many ways.
This one was actually taken yesterday, but teachers get down on those carpets to work with students! Here Mr. Welsh is working one on one with a student on a phonics strategy. Our teachers are well trained, and Mr. Welsh is one of our teachers working towards advanced levels of Orton Gillingham training, which is supported by our Morningside Foundation, MESF.
Teachers create enriching activities for kids. Mr. Rawls' library is what I like to describe as a "coffee shop" for kids - minus the java! Kids have self check-out, live check-out, poetry writing station, chess, creating origami, while various book displays cover every space! Students can get a library pass from their homeroom teacher, check out a book, and explore what is available - and he changes it often! Kids also visit the library officially every other week.
Every space of this building is used! Teachers assess students individually, which then informs how they plan for and instruct the students. Here Mrs. Georges is taking notes and recording a reading assessment. With that info she will create lessons, including small groups and needed activities. Mrs. Georges is one of our teacher leaders that has worked at the state level, helping to create the revised GA kindergarten math standards and curriclum that we start next year!
This time in education is like no other that any of us, students - parents - teachers - school staff, have ever experienced. It has been challenging for all (to say the least), and I know I will never fully understand the reality and hardship of what it has been like for students and families since March 2020 to even last week. When I reflect on teachers, I also know that unless a person works in a school, he or she will not fully understand what today's day to day life is like for a teacher. I know that there is a general understanding that it is hard... but let me emphasize teaching at this time is hard! I commend our teachers for all that they are doing - their commitment, their love for our kids, their expertise and problem-solving, the mountains they move to get to school on some days. Let's hear it for the teachers and continue to rally around them, their work with your students, and all of their efforts! (See Unofficial Surveillance Data from 1/12/22 below)
Unofficial Surveillance Data 1/12/22: 3 Positive Student Cases Reported, 0 Staff Positive Cases