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APS Superintendent Wants Cook Elementary For Teacher Training Lab

Cook off the table for Wesley International Academy, but Davis says there other options.

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. wants to use the now-closed Cook Elementary School as a teacher training center.

"It is my intention to use Cook as a teacher excellence institute," Davis said in a meeting Thursday night with a group of parents mostly from the Jackson High School cluster. "We're going to train teachers and take them out of the classrooms in a more timely manner if they're not performing in a way that we'd like."

The institute would serve as a lab of sorts, tapping into the expertise at Georgia State University, he said. Teachers would get classroom instruction and practice on avatar or virtual students, he told the parents and teachers and principals in attendance.

He said he wants Cook — one of the in the recent redistricting process — to serve as the training center because of its central location and proximity to Georgia State.

The university's College of Education already has a relationship in the Jackson cluster with .

In January, ANCS, which has campuses in Grant Park and Ormewood Park, announced it was awarded a $1 million Georgia Innovation grant it said would fund a teacher training residency project aimed at mentoring new instructors.

Davis had said he thought Cook could be used as a satellite campus for Inman Middle School, which is overcrowded.

But following a firestorm or opposition to that proposal from Inman Middle parenta, he nixed it.

In pushing for Cook to be repurposed as a teacher training facility, he also ends the hope parents at Wesley International Academy had of renting the building.

Wesley, in Custer/McDonough/Guice, has outgrown its current space and has been looking for a new home.

The school renewed its lease with its landlord for an additional year, so it will stay put for the 2012-13 academic year.

Parents want to remain in the Jackson cluster beyond that, noting the majority of its more than 600 students come Southeast Atlanta, which underscored their desire for the Cook campus

And with APS pumping some $40 million into Jackson High School for academic and physical improvements, Wesley parents argue they have a lot to contribute toward the effort of improving Jackson's academic standing.

A K-8 school, Wesley offers Chinese language classes and has an International Baccalaureate program.

Jackson also has Chinese language classes and the school has applied to create an IB program as well.

Davis said he understands Wesley's interest in the Cook building and wants to build on any inter-school relationships that could strengthen the Jackson cluster.

But he said Cook's capacity is too small for Wesley.

"We understand Wesley's interest in the building," Davis said. "We do have some other options that are available."

Those other options include possibly relocating to other schools APS closed in the redistricting, other Southeast Atlanta APS facilities being used by other entities, or even the Tech High School campus in Reynoldstown.

Last week, Tech High, a charter school, said it would because APS cut its funding too much and it did not have enough students to continue.

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