There are three new elementary school principals in Atlanta Public Schools’ northern cluster.

Parent Teacher Association presidents of Sarah Smith, E. Rivers and Garden Hills introduced the new school leaders during an Aug. 29 North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools meeting held at Sutton Middle School.

The new principals say they are heartened by the community spirit at their schools and want to help teachers as they begin teaching the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, new curriculum that’s being implemented this year.

The Buckhead Reporter asked each of the principals a few questions about their first weeks on the job.

Tommy Usher, Interim Principal at Garden Hills Elementary

Prior job:Program administrator at Sarah Smith Elementary

Tommy Usher

What were your first impressions? “It’s a great place. It’s a very family-oriented, team-spirited, loving school environment. It’s student and family focused.”

What would you like to accomplish in your first year? “I would like to see teachers through the implementation of the Common Core Standards.” Usher said he also wants to find ways to engage the parents and the public , particularly those who are families of English language learners. Garden Hills’ student population is 76 percent Hispanic.

What’s the best way for parents to reach you? Email:

Meredith Kaltman, Interim Principal at Sarah Smith Elementary

Meredith Kaltman

Prior job: Interim principal at Walter White Elementary School, Assistant Principal Sutton Middle School

What were your first impressions? “I’ve walked into a school that is an absolute dream of academic and community excellence.” Kaltman said the parents are highly engaged with the school and its students, the teachers are dynamic and energetic, and everyone is committed to the school motto of being “Anchored in Excellence.”

What would you like to accomplish in your first year? “I would absolutely love to ensure that our teachers are prepared and confident as they implement the Common Core Standards.” She will work to integrate Common Core Standards with the school’s International Baccalaureate program.

What’s the best way for parents to reach you? Email:

Also, follow Kaltman on Twitter: @SSmithPrincipal

Matt Rogers, Principal at E. Rivers

Prior job:Principal at Creek View Elementary School in Alpharetta.

Matt Rogers

What were your first impressions? “E. Rivers had some challenges last year. One of the things that make it such an amazing place to be is the relationship between the school and the community.” Rogers said unlike Creek View, which is a relatively young community, there are generations of Atlanta residents who have attended E. Rivers. The school recently held a car wash fundraiser and he met a resident who recounted school history from 1948.

What would you like to accomplish in your first year? “I want to build strong relationships with teachers and the kids at the school.” He said he wants that relationship to extend to the wider community. He also wants to better integrate technology into the classroom. E. Rivers will relocate to Sutton in 2013 while the school is rebuilt. (Sutton is moving to the North Atlanta High campus.)

What’s the best way for parents to reach you? Email:

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011-2014. He is the founder and editor of