Originally posted 1 Sept 2011
The start of a new school year is always a special time to celebrate the promises and opportunities that come with new beginnings. The administration, faculty and staff of our schools begin the new school year renewed, refreshed, and focused on our mission to prepare students for lifelong learning and responsible community membership. Our top priority as students return to school next week is to ensure that the year starts right for each and every one of them. The first two weeks of school are extremely important for students. They return to new teachers, new schedules, and new classmates. Some students are beginning in new schools. They return excited but uncertain about the new school year and themselves as learners. Most importantly, however, our students return with a sense of hope and possibility!
It is important for parents and caregivers to understand how critically important these initial weeks of school are for students. That is why parents, guardians, and caregivers also need to be “back at school.” The routines parents and caregivers establish at home to support their children’s learning do affect students’ learning. The first few weeks of school are the best time to establish these routines. It bears repeating that providing a quiet, well lit place in the home that is free of distractions for students to study is necessary. Limiting television and computer game time is proven to positively impact students’ performance in school. I encourage caregivers to daily ask children about what they did in school. Showing an interest in what the students are reading and writing about in school helps children know that the adults around them value learning. It helps children understand the importance of the work they do as students.
This summer we have made strides to upgrade our systems to improve information access and communication for parents and guardians. I want to express my appreciation to Lamia Stanton, Brent Benson, and Pam Vallee for their role in the design of the new websites. Because of the generous donation of their time and talents, the district and school websites have been improved and updated. We are also implementing a new student information system with a parent portal that will provide students and their parents with information about learning progress.
Students will also be returning to improved facilities, which can better support the teaching and learning environment (see related story). The lighting upgrade at Thomas C. Passios Elementary is an example of our ongoing efforts to become more energy efficient. We are very excited about the active solar panels at Turkey Hill Middle School, not only for energy savings reasons, but for the rich educational opportunities associated with the project. Similarly, we are looking forward to the installation of the hydroponics systems at Thomas C. Passios in the next few months. I want to recognize and thank Mr. John Londa, School Facilities Director, and his staff for all their hard work. Students and school personnel will return to buildings that are clean and secure - buildings that support a positive instructional environment.
We made significant strides in bringing additional instructional technology to classrooms (see related story). We have two new mobile IPad labs at Turkey Hill Middle School and fifteen new mobile media carts at the high school. Wireless will be installed at the high school and middle school in the next few months. There have also been upgrades to the technology labs in each building, which better support the curriculum and student learning.
We are looking forward to a very successful year teaching and learning. We all have a role in making these initial weeks of school positive for students to set the stage for future success. I encourage you to check our website regularly for information and to receive updates about our schools (www.lunenburgschools.net or under the schools tab on the Town website, www.lunenburgma.gov).