We’ve all heard the saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but students at Toney Elementary School found out that a surprise luncheon was on the menu for their impressive gains on a recent state assessment.

Helping serve up the reward was none other than their very own state representative, Omari Crawford (District 84), who dished on each student for their impressive gains on this year’s Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) Assessment.

Rep. Crawford partnered with Toney Elementary to treat 12 students to a delicious Chick-fil-A lunch for “Lunch with a Legislator” at their school to celebrate their recent achievements.

For background, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) uses MAP as a universal screener three times a year—Fall, Winter, and Spring. Not only does it measure overall academic performance, but it also assists in identifying areas of growth based on a student’s needs. These tools help guide educators in targeting individualized teaching.

The third, fourth, and fifth-grade students who earned the special lunch all significantly improved their MAP scores. Rep. Crawford pointed out that it is important to recognize students who have demonstrated impressive academic gains.

“Often, the student that has the highest GPA is the one that’s recognized, but rarely does anyone award the student that may have overcome obstacles and improved,” Rep. Crawford said. “I want us to remember to highlight students who have shown significant gains, and hopefully, that will encourage them to continue to improve.”

Rep. Crawford is a 2004 graduate of Southwest DeKalb High School. As a newly-elected official, one of his goals is to give back to the community and school district that helped mold him into the man he is today.

“I think it’s really important that people see others from their community coming back because that inspires them. If a person sees what you’re doing, that may inspire them to want to do the same,” Rep. Crawford said. “Coming from DeKalb County and getting an opportunity to return to the schools, maybe I will inspire someone to become a state representative, or maybe they learn about what state representatives do.”

Crawford added that he hopes to bring the “Lunch with a Legislator” program to all schools to help motivate students to be great so they can be successful after graduating and give back to their communities.

“The DeKalb County School District fueled that passion for service. It’s important that I’m now serving the area that developed me,” Crawford said. “I owe so much to DeKalb County.”