Students and teachers gain hands-on experience in real-world digital projects

Atlanta Public Schools has collaborated with Ciena Corporation (NYSE: CIEN) and Digital Promise to provide a unique learning opportunity for Benjamin E. Mays High School, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, and B.E.S.T. Academy 9-12 educators and students. Through an application process, these three schools were awarded a $45,000 grant to provide digital tools and resources to engage students in the Ciena Solutions Challenge, where students solve real-world problems identified in the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals that impact them and their individual communities. Students will collaborate with each other to come up with a real-world problem they want to solve and use various tools and processes such as digital fabrication, coding, robotics, and media production that support student creativity, innovation, and invention to solve that problem.

Dr. Aleigha Henderson-Rosser shares that “Expanding this collaboration exposes students to digital tools and industry level tools that are rarely seen in a traditional classroom. Students learn how to use these tools to really increase critical thinking around standards-based instruction.”

Through this program, Benjamin E. Mays High School, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, and B.E.S.T. Academy now join a cohort of model schools participating in the Ciena Solutions Challenge. Teachers will gain professional learning experiences to guide their students through the creation of solutions to problems that affect them and the world that they live in.

Students that are a part of this initiative are encouraged to think critically about their lives both inside and outside of school to gain an understanding that they truly can make a change to those things that matter most to them. Dr. Natasha Rachell shares that “this program is an amazing opportunity for the students involved to become changemakers in their communities and leave their impact and legacy for years to come. Through this collaboration with Ciena, our students will be exposed to and learn how to use 21st-century digital tools and resources, thus gaining valuable knowledge that they can carry with them as they matriculate to college, career, and beyond.”

“The Ciena Solutions Challenge model school program is a unique investment of professional learning for teachers, mentoring for student teams, and state-of-the-art learning labs that support hands-on, inquiry-based learning. We are thrilled to launch the first U.S.-based cohort of Ciena Solutions Challenge model schools at Atlanta Public Schools, a cohort selected for its commitment to supporting students to make a positive difference in their communities. We look forward to working with teachers in the cohort and celebrating students’ creativity and innovation as they engage in the Challenge.” - Jean-Claude Brizard, President, and CEO of Digital Promise.

“When students are given the chance to explore real challenges in their local communities, it is amazing to see the big ideas and innovative solutions they create,” said Gary Smith, President, and CEO, of Ciena. “The Ciena Solutions Challenge gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experiences in the latest technologies and also provides an immersive learning environment that fosters digital skills that will be critical to our digital economy.”

Atlanta Public Schools join the first cohort of Ciena Solutions Challenge model schools from Ottawa Catholic School Board and Ottawa-Carleton District School Board in Ottawa, ON, Canada.

About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 87 schools and five programs. The District is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 64 traditional schools, 19 charter schools, six partner schools, two alternative schools, and five alternative programs. To learn more about Atlanta Public Schools, follow us on social media – Twitter ), Facebook (Atlanta Public Schools), and Instagram (apsupdate) – or visit us online at

About Digital Promise
Digital Promise is a global nonprofit working to expand opportunity for every learner. We work with educators, researchers, technology leaders, and communities to design, investigate, and scale innovations that support learners, especially those who’ve been historically and systematically excluded. Our vision is that every person engages in powerful learning experiences that lead to a life of well-being, fulfillment, and economic mobility. For more information, visit the Digital Promise website and follow@digitalpromise for updates.

About Ciena's Digital Inclusion Program
Ciena’s Digital Inclusion program aims to mobilize the company’s global workforce, leverage its innovation leadership, and collaborate with customers, suppliers, and other partners to bridge the digital divide. Ciena has committed to fund $10 million (USD) over a five-year period on programming that promotes digital inclusion through greater connectivity, access to technology, and digital skilling, with a goal of expanding opportunities for 100,000 underserved students in our global communities.

About Ciena
Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) is a global leader in networking systems, services, and software. We build the most adaptive networks in the industry, enabling customers to anticipate and meet ever-increasing digital demands. For three-plus decades, Ciena has brought our humanity to our relentless pursuit of innovation. Prioritizing collaborative relationships with our customers, partners, and communities, we create flexible, open, and sustainable networks that better serve all users—today and into the future. For updates on Ciena, follow us on LinkedInTwitter, the Ciena Insights blog, or visit

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