Literacy a priority for interim Atlanta Public Schools superintendent

Dr. Danielle Battle wrapped up district-wide tour on Monday
On Monday, she wrapped up a 19-school tour of her district with a stop at Michael R. Hollis Innovation Academy.
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 6:20 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 4:59 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Literacy will be the priority for new interim Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Interim Superintendent Dr. Danielle Battle.

On Monday, she wrapped up a 19-school tour of her district with a stop at Michael R. Hollis Innovation Academy.

“Our first priority is clear: Atlanta Public Schools will become a district of readers,” she said. “Literacy is the foundation upon which all academic success is built. It will be our unwavering commitment to ensure that every student, teacher and parent feels the pulse of literacy resonating in every classroom and school.”

Battle announced a pilot partnership between seven APS schools and the Atlanta-based Rollins Center for Language & Literacy, a program of the Atlanta Speech School, to improve early childhood literacy that could expand if successful.

A 19-year veteran of the APS district who previously served as a district principal and associate superintendent, Battle laid out a vision for a more compassionate approach to education. It was one of the reasons for her tour as the school year kicked off.

“My vision will be grounded in leading with C.A.R.E., and as for leading with C.A.R.E. that stands for compassion, accountability, respect and empathy,” she said. “I think it’s important as a superintendent that you get into the schools and see what’s really going on. Because paper shows one thing, but the empirical data, when you go in and see it yourself, it’s a different picture.”

Battle inherits a district marred in some recent controversy. Despite pointing to stellar performance reviews, outgoing superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring did not have her contract renewed by APS and decided to step down before her final day. She was the district’s second superintendent in the past decade.

On Monday, Battle wouldn’t say if she had aspirations to stay on past her one-year interim period.

“I’m honored that the board selected me to serve as the interim superintendent,” she said. “I’m focused on my commitment to lead the district through this transitional period. That has been my focus and will remain my focus.”

Battle also noted her desire to improve teacher retention in the district.

“It’s about building relationships and getting those teachers the support that they need and whether it’s a touch school or not, if they love working there, they’ll come to work every day and they’ll be excited about it,” she said. “We will identify and eliminate financial waste, channeling those resources into curriculum and personnel necessary to elevate student achievement.”

And with COVID again threatening a presence this winter, Battle said the district will pay close attention to guidance from the CDC and the local health department. She noted masks are not required in APS schools and COVID tests are available for students to take home if necessary.

“I just feel like we’re going to have to live with COVID now,” she said. “We’re living with it. And we know what it can do but we’re living with it.”