When last I wrote, the start of school seemed far away; now, it's just around the corner! I always look forward to the first day of school, especially being among the excited, chatty families streaming toward school from all directions. The experts tell parents how to best transition from laid-back summertime habits to the more structured routines of the school year-adjust bedtime over a series of days, practice morning rituals, time the route to school in advance and so forth. Sound advice no doubt, although I have to admit not strictly followed in my household!
For District 41, the transition to having students back in school is what it's all about, and transition work has been going on behind the scenes pretty much flat out all summer long. There are the ongoing activities involved in registering students and hiring personnel. There is the strenuous task of getting the buildings in ship shape condition. And there has been a great deal of work to continue the planning for a range of new initiatives meant to better equip our students to embrace the opportunities and tackle the challenges of 21st century learning. These initiatives include:
-Spanish instruction daily in first grade (which will roll up each year)
-Dual-language kindergarten option at Churchill (which will also roll up each year)
-Teacher specialization starting in second grade
-Multiage literacy/social studies classes in grades 4/5
-Greater access to technology
-Newly renovated Hadley Library Media Center
Good planning takes thought and collaboration, and I have come to learn that our employees excel at both. The quality of planning that the staff has undertaken will help our transition back to school go smoothly and equip the schools to solve problems effectively when there are bumps in the road. I am proud of our staff and impressed with their professionalism; most of all, I'm happy to see how excited they are to be getting their students back.
The first day of school is a milestone, an event, an exhilarating day for everyone in our learning community. It's also a day that reminds us how much the work we all do together in our school communities means to the most important asset in our district - our kids.