Alyssa Pointer
Multimedia Journalist

Harper-Archer Elementary School, part of Atlanta Public Schools, opened in August 2019. The school was created in order to consolidate two academically troubled schools on Atlanta’s west side. Atlanta Public Schools gave the Atlanta-Journal Constitution unprecedented access to the inner workings of its efforts to turn around this school. If the principal, staff and students at Harper-Archer are successful with their bold plans, the school will serve as a template for other urban schools struggling to meet basic standards.

I produced and edited the videos that ran with this series. I also created a visual social campaign. The campaign was comprised of an Instagram stories push, two teaser videos to help draw readers to the online story and a digital pages  preview of the special section to draw readers to our print publication. 

Harper-Archer Elementary School principal Dione Simon Taylor has worked for Atlanta Public Schools since 1999. During the 2017-2018 academic school year, Taylor was honored as APS principal of the year while at G.A. Towns Elementary School. Her focus has now shifted as she has been tasked to turn around Harper-Archer Elementary School, a school that was created to consolidate her former school and another academically troubled school.

“If we can really get it right in the younger grades, then we have the opportunity to change the trajectory of our school, but not just the trajectory of our school but the trajectory of their lives, because literacy is foundational to success,” said Justin Browning, Harper-Archer Elementary School’s kindergarten and 1st grade instructional coach. Browning along with other educators at Harper-Archer Elementary School have made changes to their academic priorities to ensure all students are able to read proficiently.

Lisa Perrymond started the school year at Harper-Archer Elementary School as a first-grade teacher. A turn of events shifted her position and she is now the dance instructor at the school. Harper-Archer Elementary School is the only elementary Atlanta Public School equipped with a dance studio. The principal’s vision for the school was for students to receive a well-rounded education which included arts integration. Perrymond was a captain of Clark Atlanta’s Essence dance team and she danced in the 1996 Olympics opening ceremonies in Atlanta. She has also traveled overseas to dance. Perrymond is excited about her new position. “I just want to make a difference,” Perrymond said. “This was the best place that I could do that.

A social teaser video.

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