Viewpoint: Looking back and forward as school year beginsThe much awaited and anticipated 2009-10 school year is nearly upon us. We are days away from this historic moment of “new beginnings” in the South Washington County School District.
By: Mark Porter, District 833 superintendent, Woodbury Bulletin
The much awaited and anticipated 2009-10 school year is nearly upon us. We are days away from this historic moment of “new beginnings” in the South Washington County School District. The school year is one that will build upon the great tradition of our district while moving us ahead into a future of tremendous possibilities.
This past week I spoke to a group of more than 110 teachers who are new to District 833. It was a group that seemed more focused, prepared, experienced and diverse than what I recall from previous years. Many have been added to our staff to provide needed expertise and background at the middle school level.
Others to fill the additional opportunities associated with the opening of East Ridge High School and to fulfill opportunities in our continually expanding World Language program. Together with our existing staff they will continue to grow our focused efforts and high expectations of all students in the South Washington County Schools.
It was a “new beginning” for me as I stood before them for the first time as superintendent and it reminded me of my first such experience as a new teacher in the district 29 years ago.
Much has changed! No longer is new teacher workshop about where to find, and how to operate, the ditto machine and where to pick up your mail.
The agenda for new teacher training today includes significant emphasis on the use of state of the art instructional technology and an overview of the vast array of district curriculum and assessment resources available to them via their computer.
Over the years all of these changes have been made to better meet the needs of students and families. This pattern will continue at an accelerated rate as we continue our efforts to improve the achievement of all students and create additional opportunities that are available and accessible to all students.
Like me and our new employees, nearly 40 percent of our students will experience a “new beginning” as they enter a different school for the first time. Most of them are in new schools due to grade advancement, including over 1200 new kindergarten students. Others are in new schools due to grade reconfiguration and some due to attendance boundary changes that assure equal opportunity for all students and an efficient use of all our outstanding facilities.
Teachers and staff have already started the process of preparing and welcoming students to their new schools. Peer mentor programs, pairing younger students with older positive peer role models are well underway at the middle school level (Where Everyone Belongs – W.E.B.) and at the high school level for 9th graders (Link Crew). In addition, all schools are hosting orientation and/or open house events to allow students and parents an opportunity to become familiar with and feel welcome at their new school. Students, parents and families are encouraged to take advantage of these great opportunities.
Education is a people business. I encourage you to get out and meet the people who will be providing your son or daughter with a great education.
This time of “new beginnings” actually started in 2006 when the voters of the South Washington County Schools entrusted the School Board with the authority to make $150 million in capital improvements to the school district. With due diligence and commitment these capital improvements have been used to significantly improve and expand the quality and quantity of educational experiences for all students in the school district. I believe you will be extremely pleased and impressed with how these resources have been invested in our schools and how this investment will allow us to better prepare students for the future they will face. Please take the opportunity this year to be involved in the educational activities and opportunities in your local schools.
And so it begins. A year of tremendous change and opportunity in the district. A year that will mark a “new beginning” for many students, staff, buildings and programs. A year that will continue to build upon the tradition of excellence for which the South Washington County School District is known. Welcome back!
Mark Porter is the superintendent for School District 833.