The late American anthropologist Margaret Mead had a unique approach to education.

“A child should be taught how to think, not what to think,” she said.

The Atlanta Speech School in Buckhead and the Fugees Academy in Clarkston have taken that theory to another level by accenting the need for a “whole child” approach to such education achievement.

As a result, the two schools were among only 10 case studies nationwide to be honored for such an approach by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which highlights schools that are expanding the definition of student success. The Redwood City, California-based initiative was started by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

Each of the schools embrace elements of Comprehensive Student Development, a research-based framework designed to ensure that every student enters adulthood with the knowledge, skills, habits and agency to thrive in a changing world.

The Atlanta Speech School is one of the nation’s most comprehensive centers for language and literacy, a news release on the achievement stated. Through four academic programs, the school serves 363 students, from infancy to sixth grade, who are acquiring the language and literacy abilities essential for deciding their own future and making the greatest possible impact on the lives of others.

“Education in this country will only change when teachers are given the agency to be their best selves with children, so that children are free to discover and become their own best selves for a lifetime,” Comer Yates, the school’s executive director, said in the release. “Here, we believe in being conversational partners with children. And we’d like to contribute to a larger national conversation about the importance of that kind of empowerment.”

Students at Fugees Academy, which serves sixth- through 12th-graders and also has a campus in Columbus, Ohio, represent nearly 40 countries of origin and speak nearly 50 languages. According to the release, its mission is “devoted to working with child survivors of war ‘to empower refugees to integrate successfully into their new country by providing them the support and structure they need to realize their vast potential.’”

“The school’s unique model includes a positive focus on identity and culture, and comprehensive support of families, which includes helping students and families access medical services and health insurance,” the release stated.


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