November 13, 2013 

With school now in full swing and our new Executive Director, J.W. Carpenter, officially steering the Ed ship, we have a lot of good news to share with the community of Birmingham this month.  Read on for more information on programs that are kicking off this fall in schools and at Ed.  We can't wait to tell you about them.  

An Open Letter from JW Carpenter

It has been so easy to focus on the negative. The stories that tend to circulate about Birmingham City Schools leave out the many incredible accomplishments of its students, teachers, parents and administrators. That good news centers on our talented, driven students participating in AP classes, debate rounds through Impact Alabama's SpeakFirst program, and the up-and-coming Career Academies and IB program at our high schools. There's Constance Burns and her team earning Torchbearer status at Wilkerson Middle School, the dedicated teachers who gain National Board Recognition each year (including State Teacher of the Year, Alison Grizzle) and the nationally-recognized PTA programs spearheaded by BCS Council President Donna Thomas. We should begin any discussion of our city schools with these stories


Carpenter took over the post of Executive Director of BEF on September 30th.
We must also acknowledge that we have a long way to go in guaranteeing that all of our students have the opportunities they deserve. For the first time in a long time, we have a great opportunity to get on that path. Our community elected an exciting and promising new school board, we have an increased financial stability and strong district leadership in Dr. Witherspoon and his team empowered to focus on excellence in our classrooms.  



At BEF, our client is the student.  We strive to work with our community and our school district to ensure that all of our 25,000 children receive the limitless educational opportunities that they deserve.  Much like our school system, BEF is at an inflection point. We have the chance now to combine the power of our past successes, the City of Birmingham's incredible civic momentum, and the energy and dedication of our newly impassioned Board members to bring about real change.  


I would be remiss if I did not take a second to acknowledge the extraordinary work of Dr. Mike Froning. Dr. Froning is legendary for all the right reasons, but his legacy will be his tireless belief in and commitment to students. We are dedicated to honoring him at BEF by continuing his career of doing whatever it takes to help children.


As the new face at the Foundation, I have been and will be doing more listening than talking as we refine our course over the next few months.  BEF has been influential in many aspects of our educational landscape, and we want to make sure that our efforts continue to live at the grass-roots level. We want BEF to work hand-in-hand with the great educators, leaders, and non-profits already in this space, always with our students in mind. I encourage all of those who want to be a part of the process of helping students to reach out to me and ask how to get involved. The future is bright for the Birmingham City Schools if we believe in our students and work together toward the common goal of seeing them succeed.


Area Partnerships

Huffman Students Hit The Road To Help A Former Student In Need


On October 24th in Centerpoint, AL, students in the Huffman High School Academy of Architecture and Construction stepped out of the classroom to give back to the community.  Students participated in a Habitat for Humanity project to build a home for Dinaira Crosby and her two young boys, Jai and Dash.


Crosby, an active member of the Birmingham community, works as a management specialist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and serves as a board member at the YMCA.


Mr. Faraji A. Brown, building/construction-technology teacher at Huffman High School, coordinated the project.  Brown has been a regular volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and has two years of experience building houses for their cause.  Brown believes this project gives students the opportunity to participate in a meaningful project while also gaining valuable experience.  "When you work in a shop, the situation is always perfect; you don't deal with real-life issues and problems so I wanted them to know what it was like in a real-life situation," said Brown.


Students applied the lessons they learned in the classroom to the field, working on the house from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00p.m.  In their Academy classes, students have already learned many of skills that proved useful to their work on the Habitat house, including how to frame a building, lay shingles, put up drywall, install siding, and complete wiring and plumbing systems.   


This project has truly made a positive impact, Crosby said, "Owning my own home will enable me to provide a stable environment for me and my kids, and will open the door for endless opportunities."


College 101 Kicks Off Fall 2013 with In-school Pep Rallies, Campus Tours

@FunnyMaine starts off the #college101 pep rally this morning at Carver Hi
95.7 JAMZ radio personality Funny Maine emcees a College 101 Pep Rally at Carver High School

Multi-part Program Launches This Fall with Participants from All BCS High Schools


Birmingham Education Foundation (BEF) and Birmingham Coca-Cola Bottling Company United (Coca -Cola) kicked off its third annual College 101 Program with Birmingham City Schools Monday, September 23rd, at 10 a.m. at Huffman High School and throughout the months of September and October at each Birmingham City High School.  BEF and Coca-Cola visited local high schools to promote the College 101 program and encourage students to take registering for upcoming college tours seriously.


The events provided students with a pep-rally atmosphere, and featured a step show by fraternities and sororities from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Miles College and radio personalities from 95.7 JAMZ.  Students were encouraged in participate in question-and-answer sessions, and heard from post-secondary representatives about what exactly life in college is like.


On Oct. 17th, Miles College and UAB provided the students with a complete campus tour, including lectures from guest speakers about admissions and lunch in the on-campus dining areas.  At Miles College, sophomores participated in a special dedication ceremony to commemorate the new Student Activities Center, Dormitory and Welcome Center buildings.  The UAB campus tour featured a special presentation at Alys Stephens Center, where representatives from student support groups such as BMen and BWomen spoke to students about campus life.


The College 101 tours were a great success: a total of 310 sophomores and juniors from Birmingham City Schools were in attendance, 156 of whom went to Miles College and the other 154 went to UAB.


"We were excited to have so many participants this fall and we received a lot of valuable feedback from our students and staff," says BEF Program Specialist Ballard Jones. "The spring College 101 activities will be specifically tailored to suit the requests and needs of our students."


College 101 is a college admissions movement that provides Birmingham City Schools' parents and students with the information they need to master the college admissions process. For more information, please visit to or email us at


Join us Sunday for ParentFest 2013!

ParentFest will highlight community resources for BCS parents


This Sunday, The Birmingham Education Foundation invites you to attend ParentFest 2013 (PF13), a one-stop shop for learning about the wealth of resources for parents in Birmingham and a showcase for some of BEF's 2013-2014 parent initiatives. 


PF13 will take place Sunday, November 17th at The Boutwell Auditorium Exhibition Hall from 3-6 pm, and will include information tables and services from fourteen community family-service providers, including College Admissions Made Possible (CAMP), The Exchange Club Family Skills Center (ECFSC) and Success By 6.  Various student groups from local BCS high schools will also participate, including students from the Culinary Arts programs at AH Parker, Wenonah, and Jackson-Olin High Schools, the AH Parker choir and the Huffman High School Jazz Band.  


To encourage parent and student attendance at PF13, BEF is sponsoring The Lunchroom Challenge, which gives students the chance to be the driving motivation for their families to participate in PF13. The BCS schools at the elementary, middle and high-school levels with the highest attendance at Parent Fest will win a day of gourmet lunch for the entire student body.  In this way, Ed hopes to encourage our belief that Proactive Parents Promote Progress.  We hope to see you then!


Educator Spotlight with Dr. Evelyn Nettles

For this month's Educator Spotlight, we talked to Dr. Evelyn Nettles, Principal at Ramsay Magnet High School, about the school's success and recent recognition as a Blue Ribbon School. 


Dr. Evelyn Nettles, principal of Ramsay High School is a graduate of the Home Economics Education program at Alabama A&M University, where she also earned her Master's Degree in Family and Consumer Science.


This year, Ramsay High School will be among the schools receiving the National Blue Ribbon "Exemplary High Performing" award for the advanced academic achievement of the student body.  The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program awards the outstanding public and private elementary, middle and high schools in the nation.  The National Blue Ribbon Ceremony will take place this month in Washington D.C. on November 19th and 19th.


Ramsay High School has made significant gains in student achievement in order to qualify for this award, including an overall increase in enrollment, a 20% increase in Advanced Placement enrollment and the initiation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program.


The IB program is an innovative educational model that empowers students to guide their own learning.  The students choose the topics they want to learn and are evaluated on the development of their research and writing skills.  The classes also study more complex issues than traditional high school curricula; for example, the French course under the IB program emphasizes the importance of understanding different cultures rather than solely learning a language.  


Dr. Nettles stated, "I am humbled and excited that Ramsay High School has received the nation's highest education honor.  Receiving the National Blue Ribbon Schools honor is a tribute to the hard work of our students and the tireless commitment of our staff."    

BEF would like to congratulate Dr. Nettles on the recent success of Ramsay and send our regards along as she travels to Washington DC on November 18th and 19th to accept the National Blue Ribbon of Excellence Award.  Cheers! 

Until next time...
Thanks for taking the time to browse our newsletter and learn about some of the happenings here at Ed. Please pass along the good news to your friends and neighbors and we look forward to talking to you again next time.  We have a feeling there are great things ahead for Ed and Birmingham City Schools - stay tuned!



As always, the mission of the Birmingham Education Foundation (BEF) is to bring the voice of the community to Birmingham City Schools' leadership and to work with that leadership to provide a range of support to allow the system to fulfill its mission and vision. We do this with a vision that the children of Birmingham will be fully prepared for success in the work and life. We believe unequivocally that current circumstances should not be a barrier to future success.
In This Issue
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ParentFest 2013
Sunday, November 17 from 3-6p at the Boutwell Exhibition Hall
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