By Martha Dalton, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution
Former DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris will soon lead a nonprofit that works to support and provide need-based college scholarships for students in Atlanta’s school system.
Watson-Harris will begin her role as president/executive director of Achieve Atlanta on May 1, replacing Tina Fernandez, who accepted a fellowship with Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative.
The DeKalb school board abruptly fired Watson-Harris about a year ago without a public explanation. The board voted Wednesday to hire Devon Horton as superintendent, its ninth leader since 2010.
“The only thing I would like to say about that is … I am very committed to the success of DeKalb County schools still,” she said about her time in DeKalb in an interview with The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution.
“I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish during my time there,” she added.
Through Achieve Atlanta, APS students headed to a four-year college or university can qualify for scholarships of $5,000 a year. Those going to two-year colleges or technical schools can earn $1,500 a year. The organization also issues grants of up to $1,000 for students who receive other scholarships and financial aid. Watson-Harris calls her new role a “dream job.”
“I’m excited to continue the success of the organization, but also to help the organization think about what’s next as we continue to think about growth and offering this very successful model to students even beyond APS,” she said.
Achieve Atlanta officials said that means the organization could share lessons it has learned about supporting students in the college-going process with other organizations. It does not have plans to expand scholarships outside of APS.