From the Principal's Desk
June 29, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 6/29/2020 12:05:00 PMHello MES Families! We have another survey opportunity - from the GA Dept. of Education on the testing waiver for 20-21! Here is the link and information I received today. This is open to parents, teachers, and the public. Survey open until Friday, July 10 at 11:59 pm: GA Dept. of Education SurveyJune 29, 2020 – State School Superintendent Richard Woods and the Georgia Department of Education are urging anyone interested in the future of Georgia’s public education system to complete the survey.“For all those invested in Georgia’s education system – whether you’re a parent, a student, an educator, or a community member, I strongly encourage you to offer your feedback as we seek a waiver (Link to Full Waiver Request) from high-stakes testing for the 2020-2021 school year,” Superintendent Woods said. “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we have urged common sense regarding compliance in Georgia’s public schools, and a focus before anything else on the health, safety, and well-being of students, families, and school staff. Given the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the resulting state budget reductions, it would be counterproductive to continue with high-stakes testing for the 2020-2021 school year. In anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall, we believe schools’ focus should be on remediation, growth, and the safety of students. Every dollar spent on high-stakes testing would be a dollar taken away from the classroom.”
June 18, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 6/18/2020 3:00:00 PM
Please fill out the parent survey on Return to School options. APS is planning to start the 2020-2021 school year on 8-10-2020 with the health and safety of our students and staff as our top priority. As the district prepares for potential reopening scenarios, we want to hear from you – our parents! Survey in English Survey in Spanish Thank you!
June 3, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 6/3/2020 6:15:00 PM
With feelings of despair, grief, outrage, and panic I too have watched the most recent abhorrent police brutality that led to the death of George Floyd, as well as other senseless and tragic deaths in the African-American community. First as a teacher and now as a principal, I thought I had done my part to make my classroom, my school, “my little corner of the world” a better place – full of love and acceptance for all - but I have to do more. We all have to do more. I will listen more, learn more, do more to stop racial injustice and systemic racism. I love our kids, our staff, our community. I am worried about the well-being of our community, our staff and our kids. Together, let us commit to having open and honest conversations about race, equity, and how best to prepare our children for the world that we want to create.
On June 6th at 10am, there is a CNN & Sesame Street Town Hall for kids and families Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism. A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids and Families. In addition, two MES & SPARK parents are organizing a peaceful rally and protest starting at noon, also on June 6th for kids and families, "STAND up for Black Lives". This is being circulated on social media for our Grady Cluster community. Kids and families are asked to social distance, wear masks, make signs along North Highland Avenue from E. Rock Springs up to Ponce De Leon Avenue.
Lastly, our amazing School Librarian Mike Rawls has put together resources about race and racism. Your Kids are Not Too Young to Discuss Race. There are videos, books, and listening options for both children and adults.
May 1, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 5/1/2020 9:15:00 AM
We have all successfully completed 6 weeks of "Crisis/COVID-19" schooling! Parents and caregivers of MES kids, please take a moment to give yourself praise and respect for what you have accomplished these past weeks. You did not ask for this, and yet you stepped up in a big way. Our teachers also have inspired our entire community by jumping right in, with the intention of progressing learning and keeping school from home as normal as possible for the kids. We will continue to learn and adjust our program, based on communication between parents, teachers and our entire MES family working together as a team. We have continued our tradition of excellence, with our school being the top student engaged school across all schools in APS!
How can there be only three weeks of school remaining? May 5th is National Teacher Appreciation Day, with May 6th being National Nurse Day. I cannot express my gratitude enough to the teachers of MES - we have an exemplary staff with a focus on kids and love of our school! Also, Nurse Petty and Nurse Vicki provide so much more than medical support to our children - lots of love, caring and connection with a stop at our clinics! The week of May 11th will be a school-wide spirit week of all students, teachers, and even siblings and families can join in! The week of May 18th is our last for our 5th grade class of 2020, and all teachers and staff of our school will be reminiscing and celebrating their moving on to Howard Middle School. If you have not watched our WDAN morning announcements, they are on our website Video Archive, with my favorite news cast so far being Monday, April 27th - don't miss the family videos submitted from our community! These student created announcements provide another routine to each day - thank you to Aly Nussear and Stephanie Felton for leading our tech crew and broadcast team. This is our College and Career signature program in action!
With the end of the school year, there are also plans for next year underway! Teachers are packing up for our move to MES@Inman. As soon as we get official word from APS on how you can retrieve student belongings, we will communicate that to you. Parents have the option of filling out a rising 1st - 5th Parent Input Form or if you have a new kindergartner a Rising Kinder Parent Input Form. If you have not driven by Howard Middle School, add that to your route on a family drive - it is on schedule and will be an amazing property in our Grady Cluster. Each year, there are also farewells to staff, with two of our administrators leaving our school. First, Dr. Holly Brookins has accepted a principal role in Decatur City Schools at Glennwood Elementary! Dr. Brookins has been with us for four years, as an assistant principal and then program administrator of our K-Center. She built our K-Center from a rarely used building to a thriving, wonderful, loving environment for our youngest learners. Second, Catherine Leverette has taken a position in private industry at a company called Goalbook! Ms. Leverette has been with us for two years, and came to our school as an experienced assistant principal. She has built strong relationships with students and families, and worked closely with teachers on improving instruction. I admire both of these leaders for their accomplishments and continued commitment to education, and will miss working with each of them. I know that they will stay in contact with our school, so my hope is that we can all say proper goodbyes in person during the 2020-21 school year!
April 17, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 4/17/2020 3:00:00 PM
I hope you had a wonderful spring break, as well as an awesome first week back! I really miss your children... REALLY miss them! There is no place I would rather be than at Morningside, but during this unique time in history, we are doing our best to provide a high quality "Crisis/COVID-19" school experience. Here are some important updates:
Four-day Instructional Weeks Begin
Starting next week (April 20th) APS is moving to a four-day instructional week for all students for the remaining 5 weeks of school. Students will not receive new assignments on Fridays, will not be recorded for participation/no participation and will not have regularly scheduled teacher sessions. The day for students could include teacher office hours for children in need of review, plus time to finish any assignments. Fridays will remain a workday for all APS employees, and our teachers absolutely need Fridays to have some planning time for these online experiences, as many of them are working even on the weekends to prepare for lessons. We received this information yesterday, so our teachers are working to adjust schedules. You can expect more information next week directly from your child's teacher(s) on the Monday - Thursday plan.
Student Property at MES
Once the shelter in place orders are lifted by the State of Georgia and City of Atlanta, we will designate dates and times for students to retrieve their personal property from MES, as well as return textbooks and library books. Right now, we must honor Governor Kemp's stay at home order.
All summer school activities, including Power Up summer school and our KG Dolphin Dive-In are canceled.
Planning for Next School Year 2020-21
Plans are still underway for our move to the Inman property for two school years, beginning next year - the 2020-21 school year. As teachers continue teaching these next five weeks, they will need to fully pack up their classrooms for a move out of Morningside. A teacher told me that moving a classroom is about the equivalent of moving a two bedroom house or apartment! We are working with APS and our state/local entities on how our staff can safely pack up their classrooms, our library, and our offices and common spaces. Unfortunately, what was once a more team approach, with hired helpers and volunteers, must now be handled on a more individual basis, due to social distancing, safety guidelines and stay at home requirements.
Other plans for 20-21 include the re-registration of current students, registration of kindergarten and new students, as well as the class placement process into the next grade. You will have the opportunity to give input into class placement, so please look for that in a future Digital Dolphin! We are working with APS to clarify our next steps for re-registration of current students and the registration of new students.
State Superintendent Woods sent an open letter today to all parents, students, and teachers in the entire state State of GA Supt. Letter. So much of his letter spoke to me... the entire theme of compassion over compliance, how public education has risen up to make the best of a bad situation, and how important it is to keep the lines of communication open during this "crisis learning". Parents, I know you are juggling so much! You did not ask for this, and no one ever imagined "crisis schooling" being a possibility. Many of our staff are parents or caregivers as well, trying their best for all. Every one of you is focusing on family and keeping your circle of friends and relatives healthy and safe, while working from home, working outside of the home in essential positions, possibily dealing with financial, emotional or other challenges related to this global crisis. Let's fill each other (from a distance of course) with grace, love, patience, compassion and understanding - I am sending it to you virtually right now! I will continue to post updates as I receive new information, please give your student(s) a hug from me!
April 2, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 4/2/2020 3:45:00 PM
Virtual Principal's Coffee Talk: Friday, April 3
Please join Principal Sofianos and the entire administrative team tomorrow at 8:00 am for our first virtual coffee talk! Bring your own coffee, find a comfortable seat in your home and join us! We hope that technology is on our side; we will be using Google Meet. If you are using a computer, the link should work seamlessly. If you are using a phone or tablet, you will need to download the Google Meet app, as well as sign in with a Google Gmail account. To join the video meeting, click this link: MES Principal Coffee
Otherwise, to join by phone, dial +1 929-299-3766 and enter this PIN: 384 523 106#. See you then!
March 27, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 3/27/2020 3:25:00 PM
Phase 2 & Beyond Begins for MES Students, Staff & Families
What an amazing & busy two weeks of MES student learning virtually and at home! All of us were thrust quickly into this new world - where we all made adjustments to family life, school life, work life, and social life all at once. I know there have been challenges, but I could not be prouder of the work of our students, teachers, and families these past two weeks. I have received multiple videos, pictures, and emails of students in action - and have also participated in several Google Meets and Zoom classroom sessions. We also had a team behind the scenes who contacted every single one of our MES families to ensure our children have the technology needed to participate in school, deploying APS chromebooks as needed over this past week. We also thank our "Food Insecurity" team who continue to support those needs for our children. We are ready for Phase 2!
Phase 2 shifts us more into our routines, participation, and some graded work. For this fourth quarter of school, teachers will be giving a minimum of five grades per subject, with our special areas giving 4 - 5 grades for Art, PE, and Music. We have support teachers & paras who are working with both teachers and students, giving assistance through our Special Education, Intervention, and English as a Second Language teams. Students receive a final grade on their report card for the entire year's worth of work. Three of our four grading terms were together "live" at Morningside, and we do not anticipate a major negative change in a child's grade at this time. In addition, our special area teachers are working hard to restructure their classrooms to make it easier for students and families - with these changes rolling out next week. Our teachers and administrators will be supporting students and monitoring grades and participation, helping in any way we can.
We know that Phase 2 will continue at least through April 24th. Spring Break will take place April 6th - April 10th as scheduled. Any MES or APS events or meetings scheduled during the weeks of March 30th, April 13th and April 20th have been cancelled. However, teachers and staff are continuing to have parent meetings, SST/504, or IEP meetings virtually if needed. If we do return to school, we will not have any statewide testing, such as GMAS for our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. We also would really love your input, to help us in improving our virtual teaching and learning experience. We are all "virtual pioneers" together, so please share your thoughts MES Virtual Learning Parent Survey. Lastly, you are welcome to join me at a Zoom Virtual Principal Coffee Talk on Friday, April 3rd at 8am. The link will be posted closer to this event!
March 16, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 3/16/2020 5:50:00 PM
On Monday, March 16th our teachers and staff met together virtually from our homes so that we are ready for our new learning experiences with your children. I want to assure that we are very child focused in all of our efforts and I am extremely proud of the work of our staff these past few weeks in preparation. The MES team and community have really come together in this nation-wide time of crisis, even if we are doing it from our homes and using our "social distancing"!
Google Classrooms are ready and all MES teachers have created plans and activities for learning to continue, plus ways to connect virtually. I am excited for what is planned for our students! However, this is the first time for all of us - for you as parents at home with your children, for teachers remotely, and for kids who will not be at our school with their classmates. Many of our parents and teachers are juggling the roles of parent, worker, teacher, caregiver, volunteer, with all of us from babies to MES kids to teenagers to adults at home. I want to acknowledge that we are in this together, we will keep children at the center of all decisions, and we will get better each day in support of our kids, school and community. Please be patient - with yourselves as parents in new roles as well as with our staff as we are learning and finding tools to best assist our students.
We are calling the first two weeks "Phase 1" of our MES virtual learning program. As our superintendent has shared, our school is cancelled for 2 weeks, but it could more. In the two week phase, we are focusing on connection - ensuring that all of our students can participate in our learning experiences and that we find ways to connect with students and each other as a community. If you have a device and internet at home, please begin to interact with your teachers through the use of your child's Google Classrooms. All homerooms plus PE, Art, Music, GATE, ESL, Special Education, Technology, Intervention and Spanish have Google Classrooms. We also have many other online resources through our school library and a revamped website to help you, plus I am sure more to come!
Start by joining in and communicating with your teacher if you have any challenges. We have plans to provide devices to those who need them with the support of APS. Please reach out to your teacher if you do not have a device or have internet challenges. We will verify with every MES child in some way this week to ensure the ability to connect to our virtual learning. APS has rallied many organizations to help and companies are stepping up to help our kids in this time of national need. Teachers will also give guidance on screen time, academic time, reading time and routines, and our school will share information every few days. I also enourage you to find ways for your child to connect remotely with classmates and friends.
Most importantly, stay healthy and safe during this COVID-19 pandemic. I know this is a time of uncertainty and constant change. Please listen and implement the guidance of the medical professionals, task forces, and agencies who are taking the lead to help our city, state and country. Here are some excerpts from "Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day" that I found particularly helpful Full Text Here
Exercise, take walks/runs outside, and stay connected through phone, video, and other social media. But when you go outside, do your best to maintain at least six feet between you and non-family members. No kid playdates, parties, sleepovers, or families/friends visiting each other’s houses and apartments. This sounds extreme because it is. We are trying to create distance between family units and between individuals. It may be particularly uncomfortable for families with small children, kids with differential abilities or challenges, and for kids who simply love to play with their friends.
Please contact me at anytime, I will be working from home on behalf of the children of MES each day! Principal Sofianos
Staff Member Meeting from Home 3/16/2020
March 12, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 3/12/2020 4:05:00 PM
Though we have no known cases of COVID-19 at MES or in APS, we know these are unprecedented and uncertain times. I want to assure you we continue to keep our normal routines and focus on our students, yet have made preparations for the future. Our virtual learning is ready if necessary. We are evaluating all events beyond a normal school day, which may impact field trips and other activities. At this time, the Band and Drum team concert on 3/31/20 along with Chorus and Orchestra Concert 4/2/20 are both cancelled, with the teachers working to find other options to showcase their students' progress. Please note that other events may be cancelled and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Our entire administrative team is here to support our MES kids and families, along with the Grady Cluster principals on behalf of our cluster community. Thank you and please contact me with any questions or concerns.
March 2, 2020Posted by Audrey Sofianos on 3/2/2020 11:45:00 AM
MES Preparedness Specific to COVID-19
As the information continues to evolve regarding Covid-19, "Coronavirus Disease", MES is following all guidance from local and federal officials, as well as the Georgia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. I want to assure you that we are being as prepared and preventative as possible. What does this all mean for you as families and for our students and staff?
MES Staff Preparations at Both Main Campus & Kindergarten Center:
- We have been reviewing with students an age-appropriate summary of staying healthy – washing hands 20 seconds, not touching eyes, ears, and mouth, as well as how to safely cough and sneeze.
- Teachers are ensuring there is adequate hand-washing time built in throughout the day. (Hand-sanitizer is a back-up as well if needed)
- Our Business Manager has met with APS facilities to be sure that we stock up on paper towels and soap, as well as increase our restroom monitoring during the day.
- We are all cleaning and disinfecting surfaces more frequently, across both school sites.
- Our purchasing team has ordered additional classroom level cleaning supplies/hand sanitizer and will quickly secure additional supplies for teachers as needed.
- Our teachers are preparing their "Google Classrooms" in the event that schools in Georgia are temporarily dismissed per local/federal officials. We are preparing for the possibility that students and/or staff work from home, following a "telework" model.
- Nurse Petty at Main and Nurse V at Kindergarten have procedures to ensure students and staff who become sick at school or arrive at school sick are sent home as soon as possible.
- Our administrative team is reviewing and updating our emergency operations plans as needed, as we learn new information.
Please visit our APS Student Health Alerts Page, which will always have the latest health information provided by APS. In addition, here is the Link to Supt. Carstarphen's Blog on Coronavirus. We also have an "Important News" section at the bottom of our MES Website, where we will post any letters or information received.
- Please log into the campus portal and update your preferences for emergency notifications, which include robo-calls, text messages and e-mails. Visit the portal at Campus Parent Portal You can make sure your email and phone number are correct so that you are sure to receive direct contacts by MES and APS for emergency information.
- Here is an article called from the CDC, Handwashing: A Family Activity! Please share with your family and friends to help keep our MES community healthy.
- Though Morningside has always taken pride in our top attendance awards, it is even more critical for students, staff and parents to stay at home when sick. Sponsored by American Academy of Pediatrics When to Keep Your Child Home from School
- The Centers for Disease Control has created a comprehensive information page, including info for businesses and schools, as well as travel information Coronavirus Disease 2019 They have also created At Home: Prepare and Take Action section.
Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our students, staff and families! I will continue to closely monitor all developments related to Coronavirus Disease and provide you with as timely information as possible.
Degrees and Certifications:
Elementary Education - Indiana University Master's in Leadership - Butler University