December 2020
Recognizing Rob Rhodes
Over the last decade, the Georgia Education Climate Coalition (GECC) has had a profound impact on the daily lives of Georgia’s 1.7 million school children. Working together, its members have helped make Georgia a national leader in school climate and school discipline reform, particularly the implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).  
The result? Each year, thousands more children are in school, learning, and thriving. This month, we honor one of GECC’s strongest advocates, Rob Rhodes, former Director of Projects at Georgia Appleseed, who championed GECC during its early days.
“Rob was one of the first child advocates to recognize the importance of school climate as a protective factor for children,” says Dr. Garry McGiboney, who served as Deputy Superintendent with the Georgia Department of Education for more than a decade. “Rob embraced and advocated for PBIS as the essential framework for improving school climate.” 
Rhodes joined Georgia Appleseed in 2009 after a 32-year career with Holland & Knight in environmental law. He’d been a longtime supporter and volunteer and had spearheaded a national Appleseed collaborative project that eventually led to the creation of the Georgia Appleseed Keeping Kids in Class Toolkit. 
Georgia Appleseed Founding Executive Director Sharon Hill credits Rhodes with getting GECC off the ground. “There were a few times when I wanted to give Rob ‘permission to give up’” because GECC’s mission was so ambitious, Hill explained. ”But Rob never took me up on it. He was committed to the idea of GECC and could see its potential.” 
“Now GECC has grown to over 60 members and now 1,432 schools are implementing PBIS in Georgia – the fastest PBIS growth rate in the nation,” McGiboney says. 
To learn more about GECC, visit our website or contact Legal and Policy Director Caroline Durham at
Pictured: Rob Rhodes is in the center of the back row in a photo from a staff farewell party in 2017. To the reader's right is former Georgia Appleseed Executive Director Sharon Hill.
Resources for Student Success

As the semester draws to a close, we want to remind you of some of Georgia Appleseed’s resources for students, parents, and other caregivers.

  • Tribunal Representation Request Form: Caseworkers and caregivers can request free representation for kids in foster care who are facing long-term suspension or expulsion in metro Atlanta and surrounding counties. These disciplinary hearings often happen quickly, and we work with our Tribunal Volunteer Lawyers Network to ensure every eligible student has access to representation.
If you are an attorney and would like to volunteer to offer pro bono representation to children and youth in foster care, please fill out our Pro Bono Interest Form.
Bringing School-Justice Partnership Models to Life

As part of the Georgia Child Welfare Summit, Georgia Appleseed led a lively workshop on best practices for creating school-justice partnerships, an effective way to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

Highlighting Fulton County Pathways Committee’s success, Fulton County Juvenile Court Judge Renata Turner and Haasan Smith of Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. joined Georgia Appleseed Legal and Policy Director Caroline Durham and Staff Attorney Lashawnda Woods-Roberts to share steps-by-step ways to build out a school-justice partnership. You can view a recording of Judge Turner's discussion of school-justice partnerships online.

If you are interested in more information regarding school-justice partnership resources, please email

Pictured: Georgia Appleseed Legal and Policy Director Caroline Durham, Georgia Appleseed Staff Attorney Lashawnda Woods-Roberts, and Haasan Smith of Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.
Standing Up for Children in Care

Georgia Appleseed’s Young Professionals Council (YPC) hosted the first online CLE “Tribunal Training: Representing Foster Youth in Disciplinary Hearings.” A panel of experts on child psychology, special education, and tribunal hearing defense engaged participants in a discussion of practical tools for understanding children, preparing for tribunal hearings, and building effective defense strategies.

Georgia Appleseed YPC Executive Committee members Rachel Platt (The Platt Law Firm), Craig Friedman (Jones Day), and Stan Hill (Seyfarth Shaw) were joined by child psychiatrist Dr. Ayo Gathing. A recording of the CLE, approved for 2.5 CLE credits, is available online. 

Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash
Be a Champion for Georgia’s Children
Georgia’s school children wake up every morning with dreams of becoming teachers, firefighters, scientists, and artists, and they believe that their communities will support their dreams. Sadly, too many children face harsh realities that make that optimism hard to sustain. Too often these starry-eyed children drop out of school or are suspended or expelled—significantly increasing their risk of juvenile justice involvement and a lifetime of hardship. 
The good news is that children will succeed when given the right supports. Georgia Appleseed has helped schools and communities across Georgia keep tens of thousands of children in schools and healthy homes and out of the criminal justice system.

Join us in this important work by making a donation today. Together, we can make sure that every child feels supported and seen for the amazing person they are. We are grateful for your support and look forward to all the work we’ll do together in the coming year. 

2021 Good Apple: Coming in April!

Look for a Save-the-Date announcement in early 2021 for our virtual April 2021 Good Apple celebration. We have sponsorship opportunities for your firm or company. Please contact Thamiah Tutt at for more information or make your pledge online.
Georgia Appleseed Needs Your Pro Bono Support

At Georgia Appleseed, we focus on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and advocating for healthy housing because we believe these areas are powerful leverage points for meaningful, systemic change.

If you are interested in volunteering with us, please fill out our pro bono interest form
Additional Resources &

In recognition of the incredible impact COVID-19 is having on our lives and throughout our communities, we are continuing to share resources on our social media channels. Below are a handful of resources that we hope will help connect people to the resources they need at this time:

We'd also like to share additional links that are helping us think about justice-related issues of the day: