Do you have a 3 or 4-year-old child or know someone who does? If you are looking for a schooling option in Clarkston, we invite you to consider The READY School. Located at Clarkston Townhomes, The READY School is a free, part day, multi-lingual, multi-cultural program for 3 and 4-year-olds and their families.
The READY School at Clarkston Townhomes is located at 519 W. Hill Street, Clarkston, GA 30021. You can also reach them by phone at (404)294-8362.
“That’s a popular song in Somali,” said one of the participants who attended the July 15 CDF Action Summer Celebration. Thanks to CDF Associate Malaika Wells, the sounds of music and the wonderful aroma of foods from around the world filled the air. The event was held at the Clarkston First Baptist K.D. Moore Resource Center, with more than 100 children and adults attending.
The purpose of the Summer Celebration was to recognize and thank families and partners who participate in the W. K. Kellogg Foundation-funded initiative “Clarkston Families Decide,” and other programs such as The READY School, funded in part by the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta.
The day’s activities started off with a game of “Neighbor Bingo” — participants armed with a “bingo” card approached friends new and old and asked: “Are you a good listener?” or “Are you a leader in your mosque, church, or school?” and “Are you studying to become a citizen?” At least three people filled their entire bingo card.
Photos of Clarkston Family Decides activities were on display, including photos from The READY Schools, I am a Leader, the Indian Creek Elementary Education Garden, The Early Learning Community Trust, the Enhanced Child Development Associate workshop, and the annual Tell Me a Story! Cultural and Storytelling Festival.
The program included a welcome from CDF Board member Bill Moon and Clarkston City Council members Dean Moore and Awet Eyasu, as well as Omar Shekhey, Executive Director of the Somali American Community Center. Councilwoman Beverly Burke was on hand to meet and greet — and to take her wonderful photos. Participants in each of CDF Action’s programs, as well as partners were invited to stand and be recognized.
Storyteller and READY School lead teacher LaVerne Amponsah engaged over 15 adults and children “on the stage” as she taught us all a Swahili welcome song. We were surprised by the number of people who speak Swahili (as well as other languages).
CDF partner, storyteller in residence at the Apex Museum, and children’s author Deborah Strahorn invited READY School and other children to come forward and help her read passages from selected DeKalb Summer Reading Program books. And let’s not forget the drums!
Shahed Waheeb, one of CDF’s coaches and interpreters, took the microphone and gave a sterling presentation on how she has been involved with CDF’s early learning and family engagement program, chronicling our journey together over the past three years.
We enjoyed food from Bhutan prepared by Kathmandu Kitchen and Grill, and from Iraq, prepared by Dijla Café in addition to homemade cakes and other dishes that attendees brought to share.
The Summer Celebration was like a family reunion, with children playing, adults enjoying each other’s company, and good food to eat.
Thanks to the families and associates who helped plan the day and to all who attended. Let’s continue to take the time to enjoy conversations and to celebrate each other.
Roberta Malavenda, Executive Director
*Photos by Eric Weir
Children at the Clarkston Oaks READY School eagerly participated in sharing a story with Ellen Gadberry, literacy consultant. The book, A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni, was gifted to each of the children and their families, who are now reading to each other! Families were invited to read the book – or tell a story using the book – in English or their home language.
Thanks to the DeKalb Summer Reading Program, coordinated by the DeKalb Junior League, and funded by United Way of Greater Atlanta and GEEARS for choosing these wonderful books and making them available so that children can enjoy and learn.
The READY School is a project of Scottdale Early Learning and CDF Action. There are currently openings in the Clarkston Oaks program for 3 to 4 year old children. As soon as the students are eligible for Georgia Pre-K, staff assist the families with enrollment and transition.
The READY School is two days a week, either Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, with family planned workshops and activities. Preference is given to residents of Clarkston Oaks and to families who live in zip code 30021. Teachers speak Arabic, Somali, and English. For more information, call Carlotta or Essraa at 404 294-8362.
Wow — what a wonderful event the 2017 Tell Me a Story! festival was! The event was attended by more than 300 people, over 20 language and literacy partners, three local caterers (new this year), and a festival favorite, Kona Ice!
The storytellers throughout the event were amazing, encouraging children of all ages to participate in stories and music from around the world “on stage” in Angora Hall. Our partners worked tirelessly to engage children and their families in fun and the learning of arts and literacy activities, which took place in every room and the hallways of the Clarkston Community Center. Children and adults alike enjoyed face painting, as well as henna designs by Adar!
LaVerne Amponsah and Gwen Napier, Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia, remember the first Tell Me a Story! festival. This was their fifth year facilitating the storytelling program, engaging the audience with chants, stories and drumming.
Door prizes at the festival included discount coupons from Half Price Books and a new children’s book signed by author Deborah Strahorn, “The Always Busy, Sometimes Quiet, Often Noisy Room.”
Shannon Willow, Clarkston artist, was on hand to collect education words for a community mural, located on the wall of the Clarkston United Methodist Church, next to Refuge Coffee.
Our thanks to Habitat for Humanity DeKalb and Newell Rubbermaid for the beautiful book bags, to the Mayors Summer Reading program, DREAM, DeKalb Friends of the Library, and Half Price Books for the books. The book giveaway (close to 1,000 books ranging from infant/toddler board books to chapter books) was one of the highlights of this year’s festival!
The children enjoyed meeting authors Deb Strahorn, R Gregory Christie, and Tracey Phillips.
This year’s “Welcoming Room” volunteers included Janelle Adams, Shahed Waheeb, Shukri Yusef, Zulikha Yousuf, and Wendy Silver.
Thanks to the Clarkston Community Center for hosting the festival, and to the City of Clarkston, New American Pathways and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for funding.
A special thanks to the Junior League of DeKalb for helping in so many ways, to CPACS for making it possible for many children to attend, and to all the volunteers, including co-chairs Effie Chisholm, DeKalb County Public Library, and Rodney Reese, DeKalb County,who all contributed to the success of Tell Me a Story!.
Our storytellers and entertainers: The Cat in the Hat, Chetter Galloway, Clarkston Townhomes READY School children and their teachers, Deborah Strahorn, Hodo Ali and Ayah Abdi, Jerry G.White, Julie Austin, R. Gregory Christie, and Meer Gul (a student at Indian Creek Elementary School).
Our literacy partners: Center for Puppetry Arts, Clarkston First Baptist Academy, DeKalb CountyYouth Services, DeKalb Library Foundation, DeKalb County Public Library – Clarkston, DeKalb Summer Reading Program, DREAMS, Emory Michael C. Carlos Museum, First Steps – Great Start Georgia, Georgia Department of Public Health – Eat, Move,Talk!, Global Montessori School, Heartwood School, Montessori Partnerships of Georgia, Half Price Books, New American Pathways, Refugee Family Literacy, Sagal Radio, Scottdale Early Learning, Tracey Phillips – Little Storybug, Well Refugee Center – Georgia Refugee Health and Mental Health, and artist Shannon Willow.
On June 3, CDF Action Executive Director, Roberta Malavenda, attended the Interreligious Dialogue and Human Rights: Affirming our Solidarity workshop. Roberta had the following to say regarding the event, “I was so pleased to be a panelist at the Inter-religious Dialogue and Human Rights: Affirming Our Solidairty workshop held at the Instanbul Cultural Center in Alpharreta. The workshop was informative and inspiring as participants shared their stories and their commitment to addressing issues of today.”
To read more about the event, please follow the link below:
CDF Action was pleased to be a sponsor of the Human Family Forest Mural, especially to provide early learning “words” for one of the trees. These words, which form the trunk, create a vision for young children and their families. The words were offered by participants of the Clarkston Early Learning Network, the Tell Me a Story! Festival, as well as others. Thank you, Shannon Willow, for another opportunity to engage the community and for creating art that will be enjoyed by all!
March 18, just two days before the official start of spring, Indian Creek Elementary School families, teachers, interpreters, and CDF staff gathered at the school for a special meeting and work day, to take part in the launch of a new Education Science Garden.
At CDF’s 2016 Community Trust meetings last fall, the garden was chosen by the school community as a project to receive funding from a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, though CDF’s “Clarkston Families Decide.”
Approximately thirty families—speaking ten different languages and bringing with them nearly 45 children—discussed how learning about and work in the garden will provide an exciting opportunity for students – kindergarten through fifth grade – to learn about science.
As families waited for others to arrive, the youngest children began working on arts and crafts, while their older siblings and parents discussed their gardening experiences with others in their language group. In the Burmese group, a mother told of her love of gardening, her disappointment about not being allowed to plant in her apartment complex, and her hopefulness over the possibility of connecting with the garden at her children’s school. In the Karen-speaking group, another woman explained that she came to the event because she loves this school and the way it instills in her son an eagerness to learn. “He runs around every morning, asking if I am ready to walk him to school. He likes it so much!” she shared with a laugh.
Lunch was a special treat, as families enjoyed rice, hummus, samosas and other dishes from an Iraqi restaurant. Door prizes were plants that the families could take home and plant in their garden —- or enjoy in their homes.
Soon the program was underway, as the teachers who started the Education Science Garden gave a presentation about what children would be learning in class in relation to the garden in every grade. From vegetables and worms to ecosystems and erosion, the teachers – using the school system’s science standards – incorporated the garden curriculum for every age group. They also shared the variety of ways families could be involved in designing, planting, and taking care of the garden.
The morning concluded with a tour of the garden. Parents were quick to ask questions and share their ideas. Again and again, the words “in my country” could be heard, as individuals spoke of the gardening practices that they knew the best. The teachers were excited to hear their ideas, encouraging everyone to come and share their knowledge and experience. After all, it is this sort of family engagement that is sure to help the Indian Creek Elementary garden—and students—grow and thrive!