It is hard to explain why certain schools, even with limited financial resources, possess qualities that make it successful academically. Furthermore, they are able to dream big goals, manage huge projects, and more amazingly, make them happen. These schools have usually developed academic cultures that bred classroom success and that helped the schools gain the confidence to pursue innovative joint projects or special initiatives. It has been my experience that public schools that have fused the range of socio-economic backgrounds and earned broad public support for this assimilative mission are more likely candidates for this positive outcome.
North Atlanta High School, with its vibrant magnet programs that drew students of all backgrounds from across the City of Atlanta, was and hopefully will continue to be such a school. North Atlanta routinely tackled big projects that most schools would not even dare to dream.
Montego Bay High School for Girls, with student populations ranging from 470 to 750 that includes grades 7 to 12, also draws from every walk of life in the city, from the extremely poor to the very wealthy. North Atlanta and Montego Bay were natural partners because they acted on the belief “that if it is good for the kids, make it happen”. The two schools, regardless of a student’s socio-economic status, conveyed a tradition that it was a privilege to attend them. The two schools shared a belief system that some way or another, they would make it happen – that some how, they would manage to find the resources and ways and means to achieve great things.
North Atlanta was formed from the merger of Northside and North Fulton High Schools – both were outward looking schools. The late Billy Densmore, renowned Director of the Northside School of the Arts, took the Tour Show to many countries and helped secure the 1996 Olympics with a performance in Tokyo before the I. O. C. leadership. Billy and I had the great pleasure of chaperoning the Northside School of the Arts Tour Show around Russia and the Ukraine at the end of communism and the Cold War.
We also hosted a student exchange delegation from the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1991 – total expenditures were $98,000 for the Soviet Union tour and the Atlanta hosting of the Russians – $77,000 was raised by me, $21,000 by Mr. Densmore.
Ann Goellner, who established the School of International Studies at North Fulton, targeted the Caribbean as a region that was close, different and important to Georgia and the southeastern U.S. Ann started the student exchange and sister school friendship with Montego Bay High in 1987, and also organized a summer French language immersion course in Toulouse, France – both programs began the school’s long involvement with the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission. Montego Bay and Toulouse are both sister cities of Atlanta – Ann’s sponsoring CIS students in Friendship Force trips to Tbilisi, Georgia helped spark another sister city twinning.
The new North Atlanta that evolved from the merger in five to ten years became perhaps the most globally connected secondary school in the U. S. and maybe the world. The expansion drive began with Mrs. Goellner’s reviving the student exchange program with Montego Bay High by sending two students to western Jamaica and hosting three Montego Bay students in 1994.
The front three are Montego Bay students, the back two were my students who hosted two of the visitors.
The Atlanta – Montego Bay Sister City Committee, Mr. Vin Martin Chair, sponsored that exchange, and provided outstanding support for every other joint project. Mrs. Mettie Scarlett Jones, Vin’s counterpart in Mo’Bay, has consistently provided V. I. P. treatment for all North Atlanta delegations visiting Montego Bay. By my estimate, there have been a dozen exchanges between the schools.
Part of North Atlanta’s mission was globally connecting students to the world that they would be living in. Upon assuming the Lead Teacher position of the International Business Program, I joined with Mr. Densmore and Mrs. Goellner in internationalizing North Atlanta.
While in Jamaica on vacation with my family, I paid a visit to Mrs. Barbara Smith, Montego Bay Principal and proposed that the two schools resume previous programs and institute some new ones. Mrs. Smith, who embodied the spirit of “if it’s good for the kids, make it happen”, was very much in favor and momentum began building. I faxed her a follow up letter on 3 January 1993.
Michael Willis soon received a visa to chaperone a delegation to North Atlanta and stay with me. Mr. Willis was initially reluctant to become involved in the IBP vision – thankfully he soon embraced the plan and became an extraordinary partner. It is doubtful that there two other teachers, working in different countries and school systems, that ever accomplished so many joint ventures together. To date we have been involved in a dozen student exchanges and six super – exchanges.
I submitted a report to Dr. Culbreath and Mrs. Goellner.
Harmony Hall – Te Moana Enterprises was a model for the Atlanta Caribbean Trading Company (ACTCo). Te Moana was the name of the Proudlock home located on the Hermoso Beach Point in Ocho Rios. It was originally proposed to Mrs. Smith (Headmistress) that her school serve as exclusive distributor of Harmony Hall goods in Montego Bay. Mrs. Smith declined, believing that there was already too much competition in that market for her students to succeed. Mrs. Smith instead suggested that we export school and office supplies for her students to sell. She lamented to me how poor her country was; that Jamaica can hardly pay its teachers and rarely on time. Barbara Smith poured her heart out to me how she lacked items such as basic as Xerox paper, file folders, “white-out”, etc., supplies that we take for granted and use liberally. During a phone conversation, we agreed on my approaching Office Depot to broker a business deal for all involved to profit from.
Both schools, from the mid to late 1980’s, exchanged students for several years and benefitted from it. For a number of reasons, the program ceased but now there was a renewed desire to realize the promise of a great partnership. This was another subject that I wished to discuss with Mrs. Smith and Mr. Michael Willis, Business Education instructor and my likely partner in Montego Bay. In 1993, the exchange program was officially revived. In 1994, two North Atlanta and three Montego Bay students exchanged places for nine day visits.
In 1995, no Montego Bay students were able to visit North Atlanta although two young men from Cornwall College visited Atlanta in May. From April 18 – 29, 1995, six North Atlanta students visited Montego Bay and met with Atlanta Caribbean Trading Co. arts and crafts suppliers. They firmed up supplier relationships, purchased new merchandise, and bought additional sample lines.
was covering every base in order to tap the $1,800 of Friendship Funds sitting
in an account, justify expenditures, and receive approval. I had lined up
as inexpensive lodging, meals and rental car costs as were possible in the
Jamaican market. The eventual $850 investment would be returned many
After a great deal of preparation and lobbying, my proposal was approved and I was off to Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Jamaica to revive the student exchange program and reform ACTCo by attending a convention of arts and crafts dealer being hosted by Harmony Hall.
North Atlanta students and Mr. Willis climbed Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios and later celebrate on the beach.
Michael Willis pictured with me – Michael expresses he and his students appreciation and support for expanding the international business program network of associated schools.
to Sandy Burgoyne, Creative Design, to buy metal art.
Montego Bay High was an enthusiastic participant in the first Super – Exchange hosted by North Atlanta H. S.
Blue Mountain coffee flew off the shelves of the Warrior Warehouse.
Atlanta Sister Cities Commission has strongly supported / sponsored joint
projects between Montego Bay and Atlanta, especially initiatives with an
After Barbara Smith’s retirement, Principal Faith Clemmings continued the joint projects with the same commitment that what was good for the students was good for the school. It was an honor and privilege to carry out so many special projects with two great educators. I again apologize to Mrs. Clemmings for constantly misspelling her first and last names almost until her retirement.
The students from 6 countries – Jamaica, U.S., Dominican Republic, Estonia, Latvia – gathered in the school’s parking lot for a group photo shot, then later competed in a talent show for best act.
The Atlanta Caribbean Trading Company – ACTCo – distributed / circulated money throughout the Montego Bay and Jamaican economy.
In 1998, North Atlanta hosted the first Trans-Caribbean Exchange – four high schools from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad joined with Montego Bay H. S. to build their inter-school friendships. Salcedo, in the Dominican Republic, was planning to send four students representing the city’s two high schools but a rain-soaked hurricane devastated the region. Michael Willis and I are pictured with four of his female students along with two young ladies from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, yet another Atlanta sister city.
North Atlanta students visited the Ritz Carlton Hotel to study the business operations and formula for success. Bill Pratt, standing to my right in picture, was a gifted web page developer, served as IBP web master, and made us look good for two years.
All of the six bulleted joint projects listed below have already been described in other drop-down column files.
· Montego Bay participated in Super – Exchange III hosted by the Mainor School in Tallinn, Estonia and the Riga Commerce School in Riga Latvia (1999)
· Montego Bay participated in Super – Exchange IV hosted by the Trinidad Business Schools Program (2000)
· Montego Bay hosted a North Atlanta student exchange delegation (2001)
· Montego Bay participated in Super – Exchange V hosted by North Atlanta H. S. (2001)
· Montego Bay participated in Super – Exchange VI hosted by the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission (2011)
· Montego Bay joined North Atlanta in a joint hosting by the Ludwig Erhardt Schule in Frankfurt and the Sophie Charlotte Gymnasium and Albert Wegener Schule in Berlin, Germany
Montego Bay High School for Girls marched lock-in-step with North Atlanta High for a decade to implement the international business program, expand the network of sister schools until it spanned the world, and engage in as much trade as was possible for a public high school in Jamaica. The Atlanta Sister Cities Commission and local Atlanta sister city committees generously sponsored the many joint projects between the sister schools. Segments on and / or references to Montego Bay H. S. can be found in virtually all International Business-related files, Super – Exchange-related files, and a number of Sister Cities files.
For more information about the Montego Bay High School for Girls partnership with North Atlanta, access related files located in the International Business, Sister Cities, and Social Studies (drop down) columns.