Great Things Come Out of the Southside

What started as an encouragement to the students that I served who were constantly told that they wouldn’t amount to much, has ended up becoming one of my favorite mantras used to encourage and uplift and CELEBRATE the community that I serve in and now call home. For years, I have worked with students that believed the absolute worst about the community that they lived in, and what’s even more heartbreaking, is that it made them believe the worst about themselves because they resided there. They were given this perspective from various sources around them. The news never seemed to have anything positive about their neighborhoods. When they would interact with kids from other areas they were treated as if they were less than their counterparts from more affluent areas. And in the worst circumstances they were treated poorly by adults, whom I believe at the very minimum should do no harm, even if they don’t feel like they can encourage and uplift.

When you are constantly inundated with messages that you are less than and people who are telling you that you won’t succeed, you begin to believe that. When you look around and you can’t seem to find anything positive to say about your community you begin to believe the narrative even if it’s not a complete one. That’s where I came in to the lives of many students. Not only did I believe it was necessary to change the narrative that the outside community had about my dearly loved mentees and the community that they resided in, we needed to change the narrative that they believed about themselves, and it all started with one simple phrase, “Great Things Come Out of the Southside.”

When they found themselves discouraged, I would happily say, “Remember that great things come out of the Southside.” When they would be nervous because they had to face opponents from other schools around the city, we would talk through the fears and end with a solid, “Remember, great things come out of the Southside.” When they found themselves being challenged academically in their daily lessons or when facing a statewide test, I ended whatever pep talk with, “Remember, great things come out of the Southside.” I constantly reassured them that great things came from their community and they were indeed a part of that greatness. It took a while, but I’ll never forget the time that I was having my own personal moment of discouragement and found myself comforted when a student reminded me that Great Things Come of the Southside.

This mantra was with me when I came to Star-C in the July 2019. It was with me when I was determined to MAKE MAGIC HAPPEN even when we couldn’t start the after school program exactly the way we wanted to. It was in the back of my mind at the ribbon cutting ceremony that we hosted when we moved the program into its own building. It stands front and center each time that we host a teen night, and we definitely shouted it from the rooftops when our partner elementary school, Cleveland Avenue, received their INTERNATIONAL STEM Certification from AdvancED, the first elementary school in the Atlanta Public School System to do so!!!!

We are so proud of all the amazing work that is being done to help our tiniest of residents to not only meet standards, but to exceed them. We are thankful for a staff full of teachers that clearly care about what they teach and each individual child that they teach as well. We daily give thanks for an administrative team that welcomes us through the door with open arms each and every time that we cross the threshold, and that sees us as partners in progress, not just another apartment community. While it may be hard for some to believe that a little Southside elementary school accomplished this feat, it was no surprise to us. Why, you might ask. Because we’ve known for some time now what others are just coming to understand and that is that GREAT THINGS COME OUT OF THE SOUTHSIDE!

Alcohol Awareness…Changing Attitudes

Alcohol Awareness Month is a public health program organized by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence as a way of increasing outreach and education regarding the dangers of alcoholism and issues related to alcohol.

Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that can be fatal if not treated. The goal of Alcohol Awareness Month is to point out the stigma that still surrounds alcoholism and substance abuse, denial. Denial is a major in alcohol abuse, both for the individual experiencing it and the family and friends who are not comfortable with having that conversation related to the cause and effect of the situation.  Statistics show, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. 17.6 million people suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems. More than half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking, and more than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has abused alcohol.

As a result, April is used as an awareness platform for organizations, community centers, and treatment facilities to increase their efforts to raise awareness, encourage people to reach for help and to reach those who are not fully aware of the dangers of unhealthy alcohol consumption.

The more knowledge people have about the dangers of using alcohol and becoming dependent on it, the more they are likely to ask for help if they need to.

Information from:

For more information visit:

Making Magic Happen…Again

It has been an exciting time since we launched the Star-C Programs at Summerdale/Springview in August of 2018.

We started our afterschool program in a small backroom off our main office and now we have our own center in the middle of the Springview Community.

We started with 15 students and now have a waiting list.

We went from seeing reading time as a boring activity, to being about our individual opportunities to read as well as group story time.

We started off with students that didn’t believe in themselves or their ability to be successful. We now have a small community that not only believes in their own abilities, but also prioritizes encouraging and celebrating their peers.

And now, we are adding a bi-weekly teen program to serve our middle and high schooler community members. And we couldn’t be more excited!

We kicked off our Star-C Teen Night on Wednesday, March 13th, with a small number of students that had a mighty good time. We spent the first part of our evening talking about the life of a teenager and sharing tips for conflict resolution and ended it with a bunch of fun and games that included an egg toss challenge, a cookie eating contest, a plastic cup building challenge and two exciting rounds of musical cheers.

We are so grateful to Pastor Sam, the Youth Minister from Impact Church, that came by to spend some time with us. He provided amazing tips for managing conflict with our peers and making sure that we are taking the time to make the right decisions so that we can get the long term results that we want! He was also a very fierce competitor when it came time for the games! It was evident that he enjoyed his time with us and we surely enjoyed our time with him.

It was truly an amazing time and we can not wait to do it again! The students felt the same way and each committed to bringing at least one friend with them when they returned.

At Star-C we know that humble beginnings set the foundation for an amazing future. We’ve watched it happen time and time again, and we are excited about the future of our Teen Program as a result!

See you in the future!


March is National Nutrition Month!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics introduces National Nutrition Month. The campaign focuses on nutrition education, information, the importance of making informed food choices, developing sound eating, and physical activity habits.

Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, how the body uses nutrients, and the relationship between diet, health, and disease. Most people know good nutrition and physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight. But the benefits of good nutrition go beyond weight. Good nutrition can help:

  • Reduce the risk of some diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some cancers, and osteoporosis
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Lower high cholesterol
  • Improve your well-being
  • Improve your ability to fight off illness
  • Improve your ability to recover from illness or injury
  • Increase your energy level

Throughout the month of March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shares good eating tips such as how to keep nutritious meals simple, the importance of making food safety a part of your everyday routine, the value of preparing meals with foods you have on hand to avoid wasting food, and how to select nutritious food options when dining away from home. The Academy also encourages physical activity such as moderate-intensity acerbic and muscle- strengthen activities.

To become more aware of good nutrition visit Academy’s website, where you can get articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds.

*Information came from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Getting into A Growth Mindset

2019 has gotten a very strong start at Summerdale/Springview! We are excited to share that we are implementing new goals and focused on having a growth mindset. All of our enrichment activities have been geared towards dreaming new, big, bold dreams and developing a plan to transform these dreams into our reality! In January, we started with learning more about Dr. King’s dream so that we could be inspired to think about our own big dreams! From being police officers and firefighters to teachers and entrepreneurs, we know that are big dreams are all the more possible because of the work of Dr. King and other Freedom Fighters like him!

From there, we talked about what we wanted the rest of 2019 to look like by thinking of the following:

  • 2 – two things we will get better at
  • 0 – Something that we want to do less of
  • 1 – One new thing we will try
  • 9 – Nine things that we want to learn

From there, we continued to enhance our growth mindset by focusing on what we are grateful for instead of what we wish that we had. We focused on having gratitude for who we are, what we can do, and what we already have. We know that when we focus on what we are grateful for, not only do we find more reasons to be grateful, but we also find the strength to keep moving forward when the challenges become larger than we would like. It has helped us to press forward towards our long-term goals with renewed commitment and excitement!

Finally, we focused on positive quotes that help keep us motivated! Our first one was “I can and I will.” It reminds us that we have everything that we need to be successful and as a result that we will be successful! It was fun to see all of the different colors and patterns that our friends came up with to decorate their mantra and we are excited to see what the next one will be!

We are looking forward to continuing to develop our growth mindset throughout the entire year! We know that it will help to be the best version of ourselves and to make sure that we are accomplishing our goals along the way!

Written by: Kristin Hemingway

American Heart Month!

February, known as American Heart Month, isn’t just for the lovers. February reminds us to take care of our hearts and consider the health risk factors that can contribute to heart disease.

American Heart Month teaches us ways to help reduce the risks of heart disease, while eliminating those factors that we have control of ourselves. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Heart disease does not just target older adults; it’s happening more and more to younger adults and children as well.  There are some familiar factors that can contribute to heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and unhealthy eating habits just to name a few.

However, the good news is communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices. Here are some ways to spread the word in your community about ways to prevent heart disease and live healthier lives.

  • Encourage: families to make small changes, like using spices to season their food instead of salt.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
  • Manage conditions: Work with your health care team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This includes taking any medicines you have been prescribed.
  • Motivate: teachers and administrators to make physical activity a part of the school day. This can help students start good habits early.
  • Ask: doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by speaking out about ways to prevent heart disease.


Ending on a High Note

Happy New Year Friends! We are so excited about all that 2019 has to offer and all of the new partnerships that will help us to make 2019 an amazing year for the Star-C programs at Summerdale and Springview. While we are excited about all that 2019 brings, we can’t move forward without sharing our gratitude for all that 2018 gave to us. Let’s look at the highlights from last year!
1. We started our Star-C afterschool program with 16 kids in August of 2018 and ended with 26 kids in December of 2018! That is 63% growth in just 4 short months!
2. We have over 50 books donated through our Bookraiser campaign.
3. We had over 100 books donated from various people and local organizations to help us grow our ASP library.
4. We were able to partner with Cleveland Ave Elementary to host our first field trip which was to the school PBL night in October! It was definitely an amazing time!
5. We moved from a small room in the back of the office to our own facility at Springview! We celebrated with a wonderful ribbon cutting ceremony at the beginning of November!
6. We hosted a Fall Festival for all of our residents and were able to serve almost 50 students!
7. We partnered with Impact Church in the month of December and received over 100 books to be gifted to students for them to build their at home libraries, and several toys and gift cards to share with our Star-C After School Program students as well as other residents of our Summerdale and Springview communities to celebrate the holidays!
It was a truly an amazing start to what is sure to be a phenomenal journey! We are thankful for all that 2018 brought us and know that it will only get bigger and better in this year to come! Make sure that you join us in the journey and help us to have an amazing year!


F is for Field Trips!

As the Program Director for the Star-C Programs at Summerdale/Springview my main focus in this season is making sure that our students are well equipped to face the academic challenges that are placed in front them. I am there to help build confidence in their ability to achieve success even with the most difficult tasks. I am there to be a sounding board and for many the big sister or auntie that they don’t have, but wish that they did, and I take my role very seriously! I also recognize that while I am equipping them for academic success and giving them to the necessary tools to mature emotionally and even spiritually, it is just as imperative for me to make sure that while all of this is happening, they are having a good time! As a former preschool teacher, I believe deeply that learning can and should be fun! I am convinced that if we paid equal attention to fun as we did to academics, we would have better outcomes and that’s why I am committed to making learning fun while taking their education seriously!

And that’s how we got to our first field trip! PBL Night at Cleveland Avenue Elementary School! Mind you, we know that we didn’t go very far in distance, but what we gained from the experience was out of this world. PBL Night was an amazing time of learning and fun where my ASP kids got to experience their classmates share about the problems they solved and the projects they created, as well as share what they themselves had learned in the process. They were able to excitedly ask questions of their peers and cheer them on as they reviewed what had been taking place in their classrooms. Having students excitedly pull me over to share with me their work that had been displayed as they beamed with pride reminded me of why these types of “field trips” were critical to their overall confidence and success. They were in a place where they felt comfortable which made them open to exploring! They saw familiar faces which made them willing to ask questions. They were able to share their accomplishments which shot their self-esteem through the roof! And we did it without spending any money! Amen to that! It also showed the school that we were just as committed to their success and the success of their programming as they are to us!

Also, doing the field trip in this way allowed many of my kids to experience something that they would not have otherwise been able to. Many of their parents were still at work and would have been unable to take them to enjoy the evenings activities but using it as an after-school field trip allowed all of them to participate and be a part of what their school community was doing! It was truly a great time had by all and we cannot wait to do it again!


Did you say trick – or treat!


Halloween is one of the biggest holidays celebrated by both kids and adults. After all, who doesn’t enjoy dressing up to in something fun, spooky or as someone they admire, and getting complimented for how cool they look? However, we must sure we ensure not only a fun holiday, but a safe one as well. On behalf of Star-C Programs, we would like to share some small safety pointers, to help with making sure you and your little goblins enjoy your trick – or – treat tonight!


  1. Create a plan for trick-or-treating– before heading out, create a trick-or-treat route that you should use, especially if you have smaller children. If you have kids that are 12 and over who don’t require a chaperone, ensure they have a plan/route as well. Where they plan to be in large groups, stick to familiar areas, well-lit areas, and set curfew as well as behavior standards.
  2. Brush up on street safety– the excitement of Halloween can make us forget the simple precautions of looking both ways when crossing the street. Remind your kids to make eye contact with the driver before crossing with street, stay on the sidewalk/walkways, look both ways, cross at designated cross ways for pedestrian signal and lights.
  3. Make sure costumes are manageable– ensure that all costumes fit properly so there are no fall or trip hazards while trick-or-treating. Try to stick to costumes that are bright in color (so drivers can see easily), the accessories won’t obstruct your child’s vision, and wear comfortable shoes for walking.
  4. Check the candyWhile reports of Halloween treats that have been tampered with are rare, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious when it comes to the candy. A light, healthy dinner before trick-or-treating will dissuade kids from snacking while out, which will give you a chance to inspect all their goodies before they can enjoy them. You should look for candy that has tears or holes in the wrappers or other signs of damage, like discoloration.  If noted, you can discard. Also pay attention and discard homemade treats or candy that could be a choking hazard if you have young children.  Check all labels if your child has a food allergy.

GA Power & S.T.E.M!

Georgia Power has been dedicated to improving and strengthening education to help the students within their communities.  On Wednesday October 3, 2018, Georgia Power volunteers joined the children at Star-C’s after school program at Willow Branch Apartments in Clarkston. Some of their staff came to share their time and participate in some STEM activities (science, technology, engineering and math).  The activities involved different station set-ups, giving the kids visuals of what the company does and how Georgia Power is operated.  For example, two of the stations were made up of hand cranks showing how electricity works, and the process of what makes a light bulb come on. Another station was made up of a small hand cranks where the kids connected wires to make a fan turn. Another station set-up was outside where they used solar panels to create electricity. The last station was a lesson about what materials are conductors of electricity. The children rotated through the stations and got to experiment and explore the different equipment. Through these programs, Georgia Power hopes to influence generations of students to think critically and to be excited about careers in science and technology.

On behalf of Star-C Programs, we would like to thank Georgia Power for all their community efforts