112019_MNS_State_District_001 Meria Carstarphen Nayshunda Burke

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, right, gives her State of the District Address Nov. 7 at Harper-Archer Elementary School as Nayshunda Burke of the Georgia Interpreting Services Network translates with sign language.

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said goodbye and thank you to the district’s students, staff, parents and supporters with a letter she tweeted June 30, her last day on the job.

She spent six years as the district’s leader, making several improvements including raising its high school graduation rate from 59.1% in 2014 to an all-time high of 79.9% in 2018 before it dropped slightly last year to 78.0%.

In September, the Atlanta Board of Education opted not to renew Carstarphen’s contract, meaning her tenure would end June 30. She was replaced by Lisa Herring, who previously taught in the district.

“Six years ago, I was honored to accept the role of Atlanta Public Schools’ superintendent,” Carstarphen said in her letter. “It remains and will always be a privilege to have been entrusted with leading, serving and representing our city in education.

“Today, every single one of us in our communities and across the country are feeling the challenge of this moment in our nation, and in our history. While I acknowledge that we are all dealing with our own reflections and struggles – strife, pain, violence, injustice, disease – there is one overriding feeling I want to take this opportunity to express: my heartfelt gratitude for the grit, resilience and pride I have seen from Atlanta in my time here.

“THANK YOU to those who believed in me, brought me here and supported our district through the darkest days. That started with the board of education that hired me, and especially with the leadership of then-Chair Courtney English and Vice Chair Nancy Meister, who bridged this city’s historic north-south divide and modeled the spirit of collaboration that guided me and us throughout my tenure.

In the letter she also thanked the district’s 6,000 employees; its parents, partners, community members, voters and taxpayers; its students who have attended the district’s schools during her tenure; and anyone else she’s met in Atlanta.

Her letter has elicited dozens of comments, has been retweeted 58 times and liked 671 times.

“You have been a wonderful superintendent and our family along with many, many others are so sorry to see you go,” one woman said. “Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and love for be our kids!!!”

One man added, “A model of integrity, honor, pride, character and compassion. You set a tremendous tone for educational leaders near/far. God bless.”

Another man said, “From one Selma (Alabama) hometown resident to another, it was a pleasure watching you lead an outstanding effort in the years of your service of APS. You will truly be missed.”

One man said, “When I worked for the district and had some challenging experiences, I shared them with you, and you responded right away, and I was grateful for what you did for me. Thank You for your Service Dr. C and may God Bless You Richly in your future endeavors.”

One woman added, “Someone has BIG shoes to fill. And during this pandemic and season of change I hope they hit the ground running because there is NO time to be idle.”

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