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Atlanta Neighborhood Charter Teacher to Receive $1K Grant

Darnell Fine recognized for his approach to teaching kids of diverse backgrounds.

ORMEWOOD PARK — The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project is recognizing five outstanding educators with the Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in
Culturally Responsive Teaching on Jan. 25 in Washington, D.C.

Darnell Fine, a teacher at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter Middle School in Ormewood Park is among the honorees.

The award recognizes educators who have demonstrated excellence in teaching students from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The winners were selected through a rigorous review process by an expert panel of teachers and scholars. Each educator will be presented with an award of $1,000.

Video of their teaching techniques will be used to create professional development resources that will help educators across the nation better support students.

“These educators have demonstrated remarkable skill for teaching and inspiring students from diverse backgrounds,” said Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance. “We hope this award not only recognizes these talented teachers but provides other educators with tools they can use in their classrooms.”

Fine makes a point of building relationships with families. He acknowledges the value of his students’ home cultures by hosting open forums, town hall meetings and Socratic seminars.

“In my classroom, inclusion isn’t limited to celebrating cultural differences … [I provide] spaces for [students] to express their multiple perspectives,” Fine said.

Fine's full biography can be viewed here.

The awards ceremony will be held at the Pew Charitable Trusts D.C. Conference Center. The keynote presentation will be given by Lisa Delpit, author of "Multiplication is for White People and Other People’s Children." Delpit is the Felton G. Clark Professor of Education at Southern University, Baton Rouge, La.

The event, organized by Education Week Teacher, also will feature panel discussions exploring the nature of culturally responsive teaching and its importance in schools. The ceremony can be watched live at 2 p.m. on Jan. 25 at Education Week Teacher.

For more than 20 years, Teaching Tolerance has provided anti-bias education resources to teachers across the country through its award-winning Teaching Tolerance magazine, multimedia teaching kits, online curricula, professional development resources and classroom-friendly social justice documentaries. These materials are provided to educators at no cost.

— Ashley Levett

Péralte Paul January 11, 2013 at 02:06 PM
But did charter schools arise solely because lower income or minority families' kids received substandard educations from APS or did parents from different socio-economic backgrounds simply become fed up with APS leadership and local school administrators' responsiveness, or lack thereof, Kirkwood Larry?
Ormewood Park Mom January 11, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Aren't local public/charter schools for the kids that live in the neighborhood? These comments are banal, per the usual course of the libs in the hood.
Kirkwood Larry January 11, 2013 at 04:34 PM
I agree that Charter Schools did not arise solely to meet that need but ask yourself this question...If ANCS and Drew were to advertise that they were an escape hatch for ITP white middle class families to avoid traditional APS schools, would that be acceptable? Because of those schools are championing themselves as "diverse" schools that are feeding the needs of the disadvantaged. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Chris Murphy January 12, 2013 at 11:51 AM
That's a typical- for this day and age- knee-jerk opinion, whether from the left or right; that is, stick to an ideology rather than look at the facts. Before NCS (now, ANCS), families left the neighborhood when their children became school age. APS was broken (still is, in many respects), and administration from the Board to the schoolhouse did not listen to parents, thus the impetus for the charter school. As NCS grew and proved itself, the middle school was added- this year is the first, I believe, that it started with all seats filled. As in any other area of America, good schools provide a draw for families, and so families have stayed and more have moved into neighborhoods closest to ANCS. Note too that Wesley International, another charter, is within 1.5 mi. of ANCS, but draws district-wide. The ANCS middle school now takes in almost all of the 60 kids from the 5th grade class at the elementary, and has room for 15 more or so district-wide. These two k-8 schools forced APS to 'up it's game' in the surrounding elementaries, and they have finally gotten good leadership at the cluster MS, ML King (that took inordinately long, although Ms. Battle did provide some relief there for a time). What keeps low-income kids from ANCS? There's plenty of them in the 'tier-1' school zone, but their parents don't apply, so you'd have to ask them. And do note, that although the 'free-and-reduced-price lunch' benchmark may be low (now), this is not a wealthy area.
Chris Murphy January 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Back to the story: Congratulations, Mr. Fine! Mr. Fine is, well, kind of a 'different bird,' marches to his own drummer- and his love of teaching kids- middle schoolers!- it is obvious he loves his calling. He is one of those rare individuals that has found employment doing what he loves to do- and it shows. He's makes quick studies of all his students- I wouldn't doubt he knows most of them better than their parents. They end up with no choice but to think, for themselves, what he presents to them. He's the teacher- among a number at that school, btw - that a student always remembers, not just in the funny stories told amongst classmates in later years, but when faced with academic questions- they can go back to the principles they learned in his classroom, and use them again. Great teacher, terrific mentor, always a positive influence on his students.

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