Friday, January 8, 2010

Kim Gokce–Champion of the Week

Kim is truly a "Champion" of the community. Before his involvement, the Lewis administration and Board of Education virtually ignored Cross Keys High, and the school system's Latino population, especially along the Buford Highway cooridor. Cross Keys High is not only the worst school facility in the DeKalb County School System, it is arguably the worst in metro Atlanta and one of the worst in the state. Thank you Kim, for energizing the Cross Keys community. It may take a new Board of Education and superintendent to do it, but one day there will be a facility at Cross Keys worthy of its fantastic, diverse and special student body!

Kim Gokce–Champion of the Week

For a man who's the father of a 3-year-old, Kim Gokce sure spends a lot of time at a local high school. And he says that others without children in local schools should be as committed as he is in supporting public education.

Gokce is actively involved at Cross Keys High School and Woodward Elementary School.

He recently helped to organize a Hands On Atlanta work day at the school and a recognition ceremony for an Cross Keys alum who emigrated here from a war-torn country. In recent weeks, Gokce and seven others launched the Cross Keys Foundation (, which is seeking to raise funds for scholarships as well as teacher grants and enlist volunteers for a range of projects.

Gokce, who lives a quarter mile from the school, said that many people have a negative impression of Cross Keys High School because the building is old and in bad shape and the school's population is predominantly immigrants and Latinos.

"People look at the building and think it symbolizes what goes on at the school" said Gokce. "That's unfair to the kids." Gokce said he's determined to get the neighborhood to support the school and the students.

"I feel like a vibrant public education is an important piece of our civic landscape. I cannot imagine a community like Brookhaven without a premier high school that everyone is proud of" he said. "These are fantastic kids doing amazing things."

He points out that part of his passion for young immigrants stems from his background. He's a first generation American; his father emigrated from Turkey.

Observers applaud Gokce's efforts. "Re-engaging an entire community to support its local public schools is tough work, and most people don't have the motivation, dedication or intestinal fortitude to take it on" stated Decatur resident Julie Rhame in an email.

Cross Keys Principal LaShawn McMillan also sings Gokce's praises. "Kim is a big cheerleader for Cross Keys, and he has no hidden agendas" stated McMillan via e-mail. "He has done so much for the teachers, students and the Cross Keys community. He is a huge asset."

Gokce, a Internet systems consultant who also runs the Web site communityradar. com, is also the president of the Hills Dale Neighborhood Associationand a member of the Brookhaven Community Connection.

If you would like to nominate someone to be considered as a future Champion of the Week,
please contact Kathy Mitchell at or at 404-373-7779, ext. 104.


Cerebration said...

Yeah, Kim!!

This is the link to main website for the Cross Keys Foundation.

You can also access the contribution menu for Cross Keys at the all new DCSS Foundation.

Send them some money everyone!!

Anonymous said...

Kim you rock!! Unfortunately, Redovian and other BOE members are set in their minds that Cross Keys will become a tech school or something like that. Cross Keys will not have its facilities upgraded or receive any attention under the current BOE and superintendent.

Anonymous said...

Kim is great. If every member of the BOE walked the entire building at Cross Keys, and around the entire grounds, they would be disgusted at its condition. The students there are achieving academically despite horrible cinditions.

Thanks Kim for everything you do for Cross Keys High!

SongCue said...

MANY THANKS and CONGRATULATIONS, Kim! You really are a true hero! And Cross Keys is an AMAZING school with a highly dedicated staff! Hooray for all of you!

Anonymous said...

Cross Keys is such a fabulous place, with wonderful kids. Thanks, Kim, for letting everyone else know what I have known for many, many years.

Anonymous said...

Kim you are my hero and I would vote for you in a heartbeat!!!!!!!

Dekalbparent said...

cheers for Kim!

Anonymous said...

Kim is an outstanding young man. He is a champion of the year. His community support is wonderful. He wants to continue living in the community he is in and would like for Cross Keys to be the high school his three year old attends one day. Unlike many other parents in this area he does not want to move. He loves the area. Instead he fights to improve the school system where he lives.

He truely cares Cross Keys and the students who live in the community. He would be a perfect candidate to be on a school board committee from this area.

I am lucky I had an opportunity to meet and work with him on a little project. Kim rocks.

Anonymous said...


Kim truely Rocks.

I forgot to sign my name. I have got to remember my password.


andi said...

Congratulations and thank you Kim!

Kim Gokce said...

Mother! Please stop posing as Anonymous users on this blog - it is embarrassing. :)

@All: But seriously, I deeply appreciate the kind words. However, as I tell Dr. McMillan at CKHS, we haven't even started yet!

re: BoE run? Again, kind words but I see that as limiting how I can help and feel I can do much more for our cluster in a private effort. Our BoE members should be working on the system - I want to work for the kids and families of our cluster.

@Cerebration: "You can also access the contribution menu for Cross Keys at the all new DCSS Foundation."

Thank you for the plug! All donations are fully deductible as allowed by law. We will focus on fund-raising, grant writing, and advocacy. We are operating as a member organization and encourage Cross Keys zone supporters to register for free (students) or paid memberships (individuals and groups) at our site (CKF Site).

Our little group has not made one public appeal yet and we already have people stepping forward to help with their time, their money, and their goodwill. At our site, you can register as a willing volunteer, become a CK Foundation member, or simply share our mission with your network. I like to say goodwill is hard currency for us.

To be fully accurate, there is no "DCSS Foundation" - it is the DeKalb County Public Schools Foundation ( and is a completely separate legal and incorporated non-profit from DCSS and works for the benefit of our public schools.

Their Board is a separate Board and their by-laws prohibit DCSS employees or BoE members or religious leaders from being Board members at DCPSF. It is a partnership with DCSS in that DCSS has "donated" some part-time resources to run some of the administrative requirements.

My understanding is that DCSS-land was not particularly thrilled when this group organized and began building its vision but, like getting over the fact that I insist to advocate for CKHS, I believe the two groups have come to terms and DCPSF is now actively organizing and promoting the public education cause in DeKalb with the blessing of DCSS.

My take on their mission is that they will serve as an agent for long-term positive change in DeKalb and also as a skunk-works to incubate/foster local school support groups.

The Cross Keys Foundation is the first group to leverage the DCPSF and their resources. Our volunteer Board entered into agreement with them during December and begins 2010 ready to blow away people with what we can accomplish.

I have been very fortunate to have a small group of very talented and dedicated individuals step forward to serve on our Board and while we don't expect to change the world in a day ... give us a few months! :)

We are working on some pretty exciting opportunities for our public schools that I pray come to fruition so I can tout them to you soon. Stayed tuned for some very exciting news in the coming months for our Cross Keys, Sequoyah, Oakcliff, Cary Reynolds, Dresden, Montclair, and Woodward kids.

I have to thank the contributors and readers of this blog. You have been a source of information and inspiration to me and I honestly believe I could not have come "to speed" as well without this forum. Thank you for being the a true catalyst, Cerebration!

Sorry for the long post ... again!

Paula Caldarella said...

As Mahatma Ghandi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world". This defines Kim.

There are many who "talk the talk", but few that "walk the walk". Kim has chosen to right a wrong that he sees taking place in his community. Bravo to Kim and I wish there were many more Kim Gokce's in this country.

There will be some that scoff at this, but I really believe that "it takes a village" to make our communities the places we wish to live and raise our children.

Cerebration said...

Yeah, what she said! You've moved a mountain, Kim!

And thanks for clarifying the foundation info, Kim. I didn't really 'get' that. It looks like it could be a very good group for change.

As always - all of us here at the blog stand ready to help you! You just call -- out our names -- and you know -- doo doo doo doo doo...