Category Archives: Around MCS

Charles “Chuck” Gardner Selected as New Chief Operations Officer

Chuck Gardner is a career educator committed to ensuring that every child receives a high quality education that prepares them for the life they choose. He served as Principal of Riverwood High School, Sandy Springs Middle School, and Frank McClarin High School in Fulton County Schools. Prior to being appointed principal, Chuck held positions as an assistant principal, and teacher including 8 years in the Cobb County School District.

Chuck grew up in the Marietta area and is a graduate of Lassiter High School. He received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, a master’s degree and Specialist in Educational Leadership from Kennesaw State University.

Additionally, he is a regular presenter at national conferences, including the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and the National Association for Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Most recently, as Principal of Riverwood High School, Chuck oversaw the construction of a multi-phase new school construction project totaling more than, $100 million.Chuck and his wife, Kelly are excited to join the Marietta City Schools family. He assumes his role as Chief Operations Officer, July 1, 2019.

StoneBridge Church Donates $50,000 to Park Street Elementary

Marietta City Schools appreciates the contributions of community businesses and organizations that help make our schools a better place to learn and work.

StoneBridge Church serves as a wonderful partner, providing ongoing volunteerism and financial support for Park Street Elementary School.

As a partner with Park Street, StoneBridge encourages and supports the hard-working Park Street staff, students, and families.

StoneBridge Church staff and members raised and donated $50,000 to provide K-5 classroom libraries. Their employees and members help staff the Park Street PTA, implement the Soccer in the Streets program, coach basketball, and volunteer in classrooms.

Additionally, StoneBridge provides mentoring programs where volunteers spend time in classrooms doing various activities and interacting with students; gardeners to tend to the school’s sensory garden; reading opportunities; and prepares and gives teachers gifts and tokens of encouragement throughout the year.

We are so grateful for the continued support of StoneBridge Church, one of our valued partners in service to our students, families, and staff. View Video

The Future Home of Lemon Street Campus

Marietta City Schools (MCS) announced plans to relocate its Central Office to the site of the old Lemon Street High School, creating a new educational campus for the District (coming in 2021).

  • Central Office designed to replicate the c. 1930 Lemon Street High School building, which had been demolished in 1967.
  • Plans for Central Office include a new museum, developed in conjunction with Kennesaw State University’s Department of Museums, Archives,and Rare Books, to tell the story of MCS from 1892 to the present, including the segregation era, with a special exhibition on the surrounding community.
  • Marietta Performance Learning Center relocates into the c. 1950 Lemon Street Grammar School across the street.
  • The new Performance Learning Center will preserve the building’s exterior and key architectural features while rehabilitating the interior, making it conducive for today’s learning.

“We have always known, due to its unique history, that the Lemon Street Grammar School was worth saving. The question was whether we could afford to save the building while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. We are pleased to say that,

after careful study, we will be able to do both.”

-Grant Rivera, Superintendent

Marietta City Schools Celebrates Teachers & Employees, Names 2020 Teacher of the Year

Marietta City Schools (MCS) honored teachers and school employees during its annual awards celebration, Tuesday, May 28. Barbie Esquijarsoa English to Speakers as Other Languages (ESOL) teacher at A.L. Burruss Elementary School, was named the 2020 System Teacher of the Year by MCS Superintendent Dr. Grant Rivera.

“Barbie Esquijarosa, who has overcome many adversities in her life and persevered to become a teacher, wanting to better, not only herself and family, but all those around her.” said Dr. Rivera. “She has impacted the lives of all the children she has touched, holding high expectations for them and watching them excel. I am proud to name Barbie Esquijarosa Marietta City Schools 2020 Teacher of the Year.”

The event Platinum Sponsor was Ed Voyles Automotive Group. Gold Sponsors were Houze &

Associates, Marietta Power & Water and Zaxby’s; the Silver Sponsors were the Credit Union of Georgia and LGE Community Credit Union.  Marietta Schools Foundation sponsored and presented the Douglas A. Holder Awards to the Teachers of the Year for each school.

The Board of Education chair, Jason Waters, presented Board Appreciation Award to Sarah Martin, “Parent Liaison for Marietta Sixth Grade Academy (MSGA) Drama Program,” for her consistent selfless dedication to MSGA and MCS.

The Board Appreciation Award was also presented to StoneBridge Church for their generous donation to purchase books and ongoing volunteer support of Park Street Elementary School. John Silvey, owner of Zaxby’s, also received the Board Appreciation Award for being a key partner to MCS who “never says no.” The Georgia PTA, Middle Grades President, Krissty Foster also made a special presentation to John Silvey and presented him with an Honorary Georgia PTA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ms. Rose Wing Jr. presented the Rose Wing Teacher of Promise Award to Blaise Bowman, a teacher at A.L. Burruss, in honor of her late mother Mrs. Rose Wing who taught for 42 years at Marietta City Schools. The award established in 2013 recognizes young teachers with two to five years of teaching experience who embody the extraordinary ability and spirit that Ms. Wing brought to the profession.

Other Award categories included the Customer Service Excellence Award presented to Marietta Middle School, Superintendent’s Awards, presented to Rachel Brown-Miller, Assistant Principal at Dunleith Elementary, Russ Henry, Technology Support Specialist at Marietta Sixth Grade Academy, Marsha Durham, Front Office Clerk at Marietta High School, and Kim Ellis, Director of Transportation for the district.  The Employee of the Year Award was presented to Christine Ramirez, Director of the Emily Lembeck Early Learning Center.

Marietta City Schools honors retirees with over 600 total years of service

Marietta City Schools (MCS) held its annual Retirement Luncheon, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, at the Chicken and the Egg Restaurant in Marietta, Georgia, honoring 31 retirees with a combined 635 years of service.

Of the 31 staff members retiring, more than half were able to attend the luncheon, along with a guest of their choice, each staff member was joined by his or her supervisor that shared stories of their years at Marietta City Schools.

“It’s important to honor those who serve the community and, in many cases, gave their entire careers to the school system,” said MCS superintendent, Grant Rivera.

“It’s not only their years of contributing to our classrooms and our schools, but it’s the sense of family that we have in Marietta,” Rivera said. “Today is about us coming together to honor and celebrate them, and I think equally as important is inviting their family and including them in the celebration.”

Markus Hood: April Employee of the Month

Markus Hood serves as a PE teacher and Head Boys’ Basketball coach at Marietta High School.
Markus has worked in education for more than 19 years, and this is his first year at Marietta City Schools. Markus loves working with students and is committed to developing and building up the young men involved in the basketball program.
During the 2018-19 season, Coach Hood led the Blue Devils to the first Sweet 16 appearance in 7 years. If you ask Coach Hood if that is the most significant accomplishment in his first season, he would say “no way.”
What is most significant and why Coach Hood is being recognized as an MCS Employee of the Month is because of his positive impact on the lives of people. All students and staff benefit from Coach Hood.
“What I love most about my career is the people,” he said. “I enjoy the students and the people that I work with every day and seeing people do things they did not originally believe they could do.”
What Markus is most committed to is impact and having a positive impact on his students. He loves people and wants to see people smile and laugh, and he is passionate about finding ways to always enrich the lives of others.
The MHS boys’ basketball program strives to mold its players into responsible men. Markus does his very best to influence MCS student-athletes encouraging them to take their academics seriously and make good choices in life.
Together, Markus and his incredible coaching staff lead a book study with the basketball players, and the players read “Pound the Stone” by Joshua Medcalf. The young men have been thoroughly enjoying the book and are engaged with the text, leading to robust discussions and deep connections on and off the court. The philosophy of Markus and his staff is to “teach the game of life through the game of basketball.”
“There are so many tremendous employees and teachers at MCS, and it is very humbling and surprising to be selected for this honor,” he explained.
Markus is a man of integrity, honor and he exemplifies what it means to ‘Pound the Stone’ every day. Coach Hood is selfless and does all he can to be an example of goodwill at Marietta. Marietta City Schools and Marietta High School is Special, Different and Better because of Markus Hood.
We congratulate Markus Hood for being recognized as the April District Employee of the Month!

Wyatt Almy: April Student of the Month

The Marietta City Schools April Student of the Month, Wyatt Almy, is an outstanding student and a 1st grader at West Side Elementary.
One thing that shines about Wyatt is his motivation to always give his best efforts towards his work inside and outside of the classroom. When any task is assigned, Wyatt is quick to jump in and ready to participate to show what he knows. He is a MILE student and catches on easily to concepts he learns in class, but he is always eager for a challenge and to better understand the material that is presented to him.

Wyatt is always willing to take on new challenges and exhibit his leadership skills. Wyatt participates in his book club as a “book club leader.” This is where he meets with three other students each morning to read, complete tasks, and dive deeper into understanding of texts through discussion. His role is to check what the activity is for his book club and make sure all members are on task as well as cooperative. During Book Blub, he stays focused and encourages others to do their best. Wyatt is always so proud to explain to his small group in detail the strategies he is using to help him become a better reader, as well.
Outside of the classroom, Wyatt plays sports in the community and is an avid college basketball fan.
A recent time that Wyatt persevered through a challenge was when he was involved in a skiing accident during mid-winter break. He broke six ribs and punctured a lung, which left him in the hospital for days and at home recovering. He FaceTimed with his teacher several times over the span of two weeks, and he was so eager to get back to class to see his friends. He also was excited to share about his favorite college basketball team, South Dakota State.
During this time, he took on a challenge his teacher gave him to work on while he was home and resting. She suggested he try writing a letter to his favorite basketball team, introducing himself and letting them know why he thought they were incredible. Little did he know that in a few short weeks he would receive a personal letter from his favorite player and an autographed poster in the mail.
“If you saw Wyatt today in class you would barely recognize that he was recently involved in an accident,” said Christina Wagoner, principal at West Side Elementary. “He is still just as eager to learn and participate in class. We are all so very proud of his positive attitude and motivation to recover.”
Congratulations to Wyatt Almy, the Marietta City Schools Student of the Month!

Jordan Lyons: April Student of the Month

The Marietta City Schools April Student of the Month, Jordan Lyons, is an outstanding student and a Pre-K scholar at the Emily Lembeck Early Learning Center (ELC).
Jordan is a well-rounded student who exemplifies all of the character traits that are championed at the ELC. He works hard and practices his schoolwork while helping and encouraging others to succeed. Jordan always follows directions and is willing to help any child or teacher without even being asked. He is also a fun student to be around, he works well with others, and he is kind to all.
If Jordan needs help with anything he asks for it then attends to the task diligently until he has it mastered. He is always up for a challenge, and he enjoys learning how to write about pictures that he draws.
Jordan leads by example because he is continually doing the right thing. He’s helpful to both teachers and students and encourages his fellow students to do the right things, as well.
Recently, when Jordan’s class was lining up to go inside from recess, Jordan saw a fellow classmate who had not heard the direction to line up. Jordan called out his name, ran over to him, and very excitedly called to the boy saying, “Come on ‘Friend’ we are lining up!”
Outside of the classroom, Jordan enjoys playing sports and is active in community events.
Congratulations to Jordan Lyons, the Marietta City Schools Student of the Month!


Leon Grant (1)Marietta High School teacher Leon Grant’s love for teaching and youth influenced him to become a teacher. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth minister, a pastor, an adjunct professor, and now a high school teacher.  

“I prefer the dialogue of teaching to the monologue of proclamation,” Leon explained. “I love the learning that takes place in preparation to teach…I love finding innovative ways to teach new and old concepts.”

Each fall Leon’s first-year students are introduced to the engineering design process. This year students were paired in teams of two and had to design a lunch container for a school-age student in a country that they drew out of a box. Students had to work cooperatively and communicate in and out of class to develop a solution.  They had to research the people for whom they were developing a solution.

The Engineering design cycle was taught in context with a just-in-time delivery model. Each step of the process was introduced as a tool to solve the problem. Finally, they had to create food models and a prototype lunch container to evaluate against their constraints.  Students communicated their solutions and how they met the constraints via a 12×24 graphics ad and a 30-second promotional video. This approach helped students to see the design process as a tool for solving problems that is valuable whether you are an engineer or not.

Leon Grant_resizedIn 2013, upon joining the Marietta City Schools family, Leon established the Engineering Pipeline at Marietta City Schools.  The Engineering Pipeline is a K-12 engineering education initiative that provides resources, academic partnerships, and industry partnerships with deep STEM immersions across elementary, middle, secondary, and post-secondary grade bands centered in real-world engineering problems/projects.  As the Engineering Pipeline Founder & Director, he provides vision and maintains program oversight for partner development, program funding, and teacher development.

The Pipeline hosts three major events each year: the Engineering Pipeline Open House; the Summer of Exploration Conference, and the Research Symposium.  The Pipeline has developed deep partnerships with over 45 partners such as Google, Lockheed-Martin, and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Pipeline has raised more than $150,000 in grants and in-kind giving that has been shared between high, middle, and elementary school partners. The Pipeline currently partners with the Middle School and three elementary schools and has reached over 1200 students this year through various events.

The Pipeline efforts have been recognized at the state and national levels by the Technology Association of Georgia, DiscoverE, The Association of Career and Technical Educators, and the Women Engineers Proactive Network. The American Society of Civil Engineers is using the Engineering Pipeline as a model to reform their Civil Engineering Club initiative. 

But, beyond the accolades and accomplishments, Leon is most proud of the connection he has been able to build with his students.

“My greatest accomplishments in education are winning the trust of my students, helping students discover their passion, and coaching students to levels of excellence,” Leon shared. “Classroom procedures and expectations are extremely important to maintain classroom discipline.  However, I have found that I can lead students who trust me much farther than I can mandate students who don’t trust me.”

From having former students ask him to perform their marriage ceremony to being named the godfather of another former student’s child; Leon counts the impact of these long-lasting relationships as treasures in his teaching career.

Grant is one of three Teacher of the Year finalists for Marietta City Schools. The district will celebrate its award-winning teachers and employees May 28, 2019, at its annual Teacher of the Year and Employee Awards Luncheon at Roswell Street Baptist Church.

2019 TOTY Finalist Announcement.Final

MHS Junior Marcos Rios Scores Perfect ACT Score

Marcos Rios, a Junior at Marietta High School, recently accomplished a pretty rare feat by earning a perfect score on the ACT; an accomplishment less than one percent of students nationwide achieve.

Marcos prepared for the ACT in a few ways. He took both the SAT and ACT early to get experience completing both tests, and once he had a feel for each test, he went over content he didn’t know well and made sure to get plenty of rest the night before the test. Additionally, Marcos participated in the prep class at the high school.

Marcos took the ACT previously and scored a 35, so he decided to take the test again to see if he could earn a perfect score.

“I set an alarm for 1:00 a.m. the day I knew the scores would come out, the Wednesday after President’s Day,” Marcos explained. “I woke up, logged in to see the scores, said a little prayer, then clicked on the score report. I fell out of bed, cheered a little, then took a screenshot that I immediately sent to the family group chat before going straight back to sleep. I woke up again at 4 a.m. when I heard my parents shouting upstairs with joy.”

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science, each scored on a scale of 1-36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam that measures what students have learned in school. Students who earn a 36 composite score have likely mastered all of the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in first-year college courses in the core subject areas.

In addition to his academic success, Marcos is involved in several extracurricular activities and leadership roles, including serving as the president of the Technology Student Association and Society for Pre Engineering, Vice President of Model UN, National Honor Society service coordinator, and Flute Section Leader and Band Librarian in the marching band. Outside of school, Marcos serves as the Youth Preparedness Programs Committee Chair of FEMA’s National Youth Preparedness Council, and he’s a co-teacher for the special needs class at his church every Sunday.

Marcos’ mom, Margarita Ojeda, says that while she was so excited, she wasn’t surprised about the big news.

“A different score wouldn’t have changed what we think of him or his outcomes, but I am glad he gets to relax a little and cross off one of the things on his bucket list,” she explained.

“Marcos works really hard and likes to set goals for himself,” his mom continued. “I am glad he has enjoyed seeing them come to fruition. However, it is his servant heart and helpful and kind disposition that makes me most proud. No matter what he is working on, if somebody asks for help, he stops what he is doing and helps. That is not determined by a score or a grade.”

In fact, Marcos has great advice for other students who aspire to score high on the ACT.

“To any other student trying to score high, the best thing I can recommend is being prepared for the test, outside of the test,” Marcos explained. “Read a lot and keep your math skills sharp…I also recommend taking the test early on, so you know what you do well on and you know what you can improve on.”

Marcos is the third Marietta High School student to receive a perfect score on the ACT in the past year.

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