In the early 1970’s, Atlanta Public Schools was experiencing tremendous growth. The school district was in need of a new middle school to house the students from Garden Hills, E. Rivers, Warren T. Jackson, Sarah Smith, and Morris Brandon Elementary Schools. The decision was made to transition one of the high schools to a middle school. In 1972, William Franklin Dykes High School, located on Powers Ferry Road in the Buckhead neighborhood, was changed to Willis A. Sutton Middle School, named for the 8th superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools.
Willis Anderson Sutton began his career with Atlanta Public
Schools in 1913. In 1914, Dr. Sutton became head of the
Department of Languages at Tech High School, and later
became principal in 1917. In 1921, Dr. Sutton became the
8th superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. Throughout
his career, Dr. Sutton was always seeking ways to improve
the method of educating children. In 1930, he traveled
to Chicago, Illinois and to several other states, meeting
with other educators to discuss their methodology. Always
thinking of his teachers and students, he wrote them a
letter during his trip, encouraging them to ‘study
hard, play fairly and be happy.’ Nine years later,
Dr. Sutton traveled to Tuskegee University to celebrate
the birthday of Dr. George W. Carver, noted scientist,
educator and humanitarian. Dr. Sutton had lunch and visited
with Dr. Carver inquiring about his philosophical approach
to diversity and his holistic approach to acquiring knowledge.
Dr. Carver explained that if we as a society act on the
belief in a common humanity, which binds us together despite
our differences of race, nationality and culture, only
then can we reunite ethical and technical reasoning.
Sutton took Dr. Carver’s ideas, as well as the several
other educators’ and put many into practice. He
believed that fitting the child for life through education
and shaping the personality and the mind as an integral
whole, would create well-rounded adults who could cope
with life. His three objectives for students of Atlanta
Public Schools were focused on health, scholarship, and
character. His distinctive approach to education attracted
nationwide attention and that of leading educators.
its history, Sutton Middle School has reflected the philosophy
of its namesake. Sutton has a reputation of having the
top teachers in the district including world famous artist,
James Adair who taught art; Reginald Colbert who taught
band, and his wife Natalie Colbert who still teaches orchestra;
Ina Gottelieb, renowned drama coach and many of the fine
teachers who are presently on the faculty today.
is also the alma mater of many successful professionals
including NASA engineer Heather Paul; Grammy Award-Winning
Rapper, composer, producer and actor, Andre Benjamin of
OUTKAST; actor, producer, and former P. Diddy sidekick,
Derrick Watkins a.k.a. Farnsworth Bentley; Ivy-League
graduate and Olympic Bronze Medalist, Tora Harris; former
NFL wide receiver, Sam Graddy; and many more successful
attorneys, doctors, educators, business professionals
and community leaders.
continues to excel in the areas of academia, performing
arts, sports and many competitive extra-curricular activities,
winning numerous awards in all areas. Students today are
privileged to take part in the International Baccalaureate
program, a program that promotes active lifelong learning
through interdisciplinary planning and focuses on five
the fall of 2006, over 30 years after the doors of Sutton
Middle School first opened, students entered a totally
renovated campus. Sutton now boasts a state-of-the-art
facility that includes a conference and meeting center;
a new media center; an arts complex, which houses the
school’s award-winning band and orchestra; art and
drama departments; and the newly added chorale department,
nine science labs, five computer labs, and a performing
arts theatre. Also, because we were selected to participate
in the LINUX program, Sutton faculty and students are
now enjoying the use of 400 supplemental computer terminals.
The partnership of Sutton and North Atlanta High School received the prestigious International Baccalaureate World School Authorization for the middle years programme (MYP) in 2008. Our cluster of schools is now the first in the southeast to have a kindergarten through 12th grade IB continuum.
Since its beginning in 1972, Sutton Middle School has provided Atlanta students with a solid foundation in education offering instruction from many of the finest educators in the district. We will strive to continue in our tradition of high achievement and pride, making milestones and producing tomorrow’s leaders.