Atlanta superintendent sets goal for every Pre-K student to graduate

Atlanta Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring gives her annual State of the District address at Illuminarium Thursday. Credit: Martha Dalton (screenshot)

Surrounded by laser projections at immersive entertainment venue  Illuminarium Thursday, Atlanta Superintendent Lisa Herring explained the meaning behind the theme of her 2023 State of the District address, “Mission Possible: APS2036.” Herring said it’s her mission to ensure that current Pre-Kindergarten students graduate from high school in 2036 ready for college or the workforce.

“Our students have to know before they leave us, and quite honestly before they hit high school, they have to have a sense of career relevance, interest, and talents so that they feel engaged so that we keep them at a space where they’re pursuing a talent and a dream,” she said. 

Herring said by the time today’s Pre-K students are seniors, she wants them to achieve one of the following: enroll in college, enlist in the military, be employed, or be on a path to becoming an entrepreneur. 

APS’s graduation rate reached a high of 84 percent last year. Herring said to assure it reaches 100 percent, she needs help from philanthropic partners and community volunteers who are willing to serve as mentors. She set a goal of $16 million in philanthropic donations and said the district needs 40 more corporate partnerships.

“If we want to be the district in this city and this state that becomes the global exemplar, in order to outfit our schools it will take resources that are fiscal and partnerships that are innovative to make that happen,” she said.

Herring said APS has already teamed up with corporations like Delta, Verizon, Google, Apple, and Coca-Cola to provide training and mentoring for students. She mentioned the district may also partner with Nike’s new tech center focused on logistics and supply chain management. Herring said giving students experiential learning opportunities is critical to ensuring they’re prepared for life after high school. 

“To develop the personal genius of every scholar is paramount to the work of educators,” she said. 

The address also included a video message from Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who wasn’t able to appear in person. He said 2023 will be “The Year of the Youth” in Atlanta. 

“I’m a proud product and parent of APS,” he said. “I know firsthand the role education plays in the lives of our youth.”