In this time when city officials say public input will help create a new look for Sandy Springs, Irene Schweiger attests to how being involved makes a difference.
It changes things, she said.
Schweiger, executive director of Sandy Springs Education Force, recalls more than 20 years ago when her daughter Kimberly was in kindergarten at Woodland Elementary.
She thought there were too many students crammed into the classroom and complained to the principal. “I told him, ‘You need to hire a teacher.’ He gave me a list of the school board and said, ‘I want you to call these people,’ “ said Schweiger.
Her commitment to education was born.
“I saw it was important that public education be very strong in the community. And I saw there is a need for the community and parents to be involved in the school because you really can make a difference,” she said.
She continued, ”I guess it was about 10 years ago, we had a lot of overcrowding at Sandy Springs schools. I was on the superintendent’s advisory committee for North Springs. I got with the [counterpart] at Riverwood and formed a task force; and that formed Ison Springs Elementary School.”
Good teachers are a factor too, Schweiger said. Her daughter Kimberly was named Teacher of the Year at State Bridge Crossing Elementary in Johns Creek. Kimberly was inspired by education through her second grade teacher. “Her teacher thought outside of the box,” Schweiger said.
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In Sandy Springs, students are inspired through programs of the SSEF.
The Sandy Springs Education Force is a non-profit organization that provides resources and enrichment programs for local public schools. It offers mentoring, afterschool programs and grant programs.
Earlier this year its program at Sandy Springs Charter Middle School propelled students to first place in robotics competition at the Technology Student Association State Leadership Conference in Athens.
In the coming year, Schweiger said the SSEF hopes to carry over successful enrichment programs to other schools.
“Our goal is to be focused on results and outcomes,” she said.
“In essence this is what Sandy Springs is about – being involved,” Schweiger said. 'I think it’s very important.”
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