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​Solutions Summit to be held Friday, May 5

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office,

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DRAFT Agenda and Directions​

April 24, 2017 – The Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education will co-host a Solutions Summit to address the challenges faced by chronically underperforming schools on Friday, May 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Floyd Room of the Sloppy Floyd Building (driving and parking directions attached).

The summit will bring together stakeholders from all invested groups – members of the education, business, policymakers and faith communities, as well as families – to have candid conversations about the issues these schools face and develop a shared framework for improvement.

“There is no simple, one-step solution for every school that’s struggling to improve student achievement,” Superintendent Woods said. “We must look at a holistic approach to educating students in underperforming schools, and that must include the communities. More than identifying just the problems, we must develop real actionable solutions that engage stakeholders around the common challenges facing these schools.”

Dr. Steve Dolinger, president of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, reinforced Woods’ comments.  “The summit presents a unique opportunity to do more than talk about problems many of our schools face. We must move past talking to action,” he stressed. “Key education, business, community and government leaders will have the chance to leverage their collective will to make a collective impact.”

The summit will include an overview of efforts to support chronically underperforming schools, along with panel discussions on the opportunities and challenges facing districts, communities, and state agencies as they work to provide that support. There will be comprehensive data available for chronically underperforming schools, allowing attendees to examine and discuss student achievement, school climate, demographics, turnover rates, discipline rates, attendance, and other related community data.

These discussions will be followed by a time of candid conversations and brainstorming, and an opportunity for attendees to commit to an action framework to support underperforming schools.

The summit will be co-chaired by Dr. Mary Sue Murray, a retired State Board of Education member with more than 30 years of education experience, and Stephanie Johnson, principal of Maynard Jackson High School and a 2017 National Principal of the Year finalist.

Dr. Mary Sue Murray

Dr. Murray served for thirteen years on Georgia’s State Board of Education. Prior to that, she taught second, third, and sixth grades in Georgia’s public schools, and later served in the roles of assistant principal, curriculum director, language arts specialist, staff development director, personnel director, and assistant superintendent. She has taught graduate-level courses at the University of West Georgia and Piedmont College and has served as a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) consultant and chairperson for multiple schools in Georgia. Seeing a need for educators to meet on a regular basis to discuss curriculum, she was instrumental in the founding of Metro Area Instructional Leaders (MAIL). Dr. Murray holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Shorter College, a masters in English education from the University of Georgia, an educational specialist’s degree in administration supervision from West Georgia College, and a Ph.D. from Georgia State University.

Stephanie Johnson

Stephanie Johnson, Ed.S., led the turnarounds of Sequoyah Middle School and Jonesboro High School, and currently serves as the turnaround principal of Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta. Prior to that, she served as an assistant principal on Morrow High School’s turnaround team, a secondary language arts teacher, and a counselor. She has been recognized for leadership that promotes equity and access for schools and communities and has resulted in large increases in graduation rates, student performance on standardized exams, and college admission rates, while closing the achievement gap for students in at-risk subgroup populations. She is the 2016 Georgia Principal of the Year and was a top-three finalist for National Principal of the Year. She is an active member of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals and Georgia State University’s Principal’s Center.​