Paula Kupersmith, APS BOE Candidate, District 2
Since 1983, I’ve called Atlanta home. From my first rental in Poncey-Highland to the last several years living in Castleberry Hill, I’ve always loved living in the urban neighborhoods that make Atlanta special. My professional background spans Fortune 100 sales to urban planning and zoning, teaching me to care about our city as it inevitably grows and changes.
When my son was born in 1997, I fell in love with our public schools. I chaired our elementary Local School Council for four years and served two terms as a middle school PTA president. Serving as Inman Park Neighborhood Association’s Education Chair, I worked with surrounding communities, local government entities, and Atlanta Public Schools leaders who all shared a passion for Atlanta’s children. As a high school mom, I chaired the Grady Robotics and STEM Alliance to grow needed STEM programs across the APS K-12 landscape. I fundraised, wrote grants, and pulled in corporate sponsors to make sure every Grady, Maynard Jackson, North Atlanta, Carver, and Booker T. Washington High School Cluster kid had real access to successful robotics programs for years to come.
When Atlanta Public Schools announced the sale of the long-vacant David T. Howard School in Old Fourth Ward, I collaborated with concerned parents and the David T. Howard Alumni Association to preserve and renovate the 1923 building as Grady High School’s new feeder middle school. APS agreed to the project, saving decades of important Atlanta civil rights history and cherished alumni stories for generations of APS children. The David T. Howard school will reopen in the fall of 2020.
As a single mom, I understand all too well what it means to put our kids first, even in the worst of times. Like millions of kids whose moms raise them on one paycheck, my son joined the swelling ranks of rent-insecure Atlanta kids living in poverty and attending school daily. I found myself choosing between rent and groceries - and rent won. In fact, rents rose so fast here in Atlanta that I moved my son four times in five years to manage costs and keep him in the same schools. Through those years, “It takes a village” became my mantra.
When my son applied to college, I was proud of his hard work, scholarships, and all the odds we’d beaten. Then he pulled a u-turn to become an electrician and signed himself right up for commercial union work. I admit I was worried - until I realized there were direct paths to companies and unions offering amazing STEM training and jobs to kids right out of high school. At 21, my kid is enthusiastically showing up to learn while he earns. He even has a retirement plan, so yes, I’m a proud union mom.
What do all of my experiences amount to? For starters, I know strong community involvement drives good public schools - we need to show up. I know kids who move too much don’t do as well in school as kids who sleep in the same place every night - stabilizing housing and starting school from birth can help. I proved our historic school buildings and their alumni stories can all be saved. Why? Because our kids all need to know the pain and triumph of this town’s civil rights story and that won’t happen if we keep taking their buildings away. I am dead certain our kids deserve the quality STEM programs we keep promising them but don’t consistently deliver. I know ALL Atlanta kids - not just some - can succeed in college or take up alternative careers right out of high school. After 20 years of plain old passion and hard work, I’m ready to roll everything together to fight for the kids - now I need your vote!
Support & Strengthen Neighborhood Schools