By Megan L. Alderton
Change can be hard, but as the Greek Philosopher Heraclitus said, “change is the only constant.” When reflecting on this quote, I am reminded that change is often coupled with the promise of a future. Alexandria City Public Schools is preparing for change as Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Ed.D. officially steps down on Aug. 31. As the division’s School Board chair, I can assure you that the board’s expectation for leadership that embodies vision, integrity and passion will not falter and that our commitment to racial equity in education will continue with vigilance and fervor.
Preparing for what lies ahead, there is no doubt that ACPS will remain true to its vision. Our mission has been clearly outlined in our 2025 Strategic Plan: Equity for All and our strategic goals are not negotiable. As the school division moves forward, we can pride ourselves on having a strong and experienced leadership team who truly believes in our mission, is ready to empower our staff and is prepared to inspire our students.
As we embark on an era of change, we can look forward to some exciting developments in our efforts to strengthen our relationships with our ACPS families, staff and broader community. The ACPS website redesign project will bolster and streamline communication efforts within the division, as it becomes fully operational at the start of the 2022-23 academic year.
The new website will help to open the lines of communication with all ACPS families by providing high-quality automated translations. The redesign also ensures all content meets Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines and will become a vital platform, allowing us to share stories highlighting ACPS students, staff and programs in multimedia formats.
We will also be launching ParentSquare. This new platform will allow families to receive all announcements from the division and from their children’s schools and teachers in one place. Perhaps most importantly, ParentSquare will offer instant two-way translation, allowing families and teachers to send and receive messages in their preferred language.
In the fall of 2021, the School Board approved the formation of three advisory committees whose purpose is to give a voice to specific language groups. These committees will help advise the school division on the needs of our students and families who speak Spanish, Amharic and Arabic, and provide recommendations regarding the education of these student groups.
Regardless of any changes within the division, the best interests of our students will always remain top priority. With Summer Learning 2022, the division is providing added educational opportunities for students in grades K-12 who were identified as needing extra support. In addition, self-directed Boost classes in English and math are also accessible this summer for ACPS students in grades 5-12.
As we lean into a new school year, ACPS will continue to employ and strengthen our Multi-Tiered System of Supports, addressing the diverse strengths and needs of our student population and prioritizing instructional best practices for all students. Social, Emotional, Academic Learning will also help students feel connected, build relationships and encourage conflict resolution. In addition, all ACPS school sites have a student support team made up of counselors, nurses, psychologists and social workers who are there to assist in addressing the academic, behavioral, physical and social-emotional development of all students.
As our current superintendent prepares to leave his post, an interim leader will be appointed until a new superintendent is hired. During this time, ACPS will also be looking to onboard new teachers, substitutes and support staff to fill open positions, and we welcome candidates to apply. We thank Hutchings for his time served, and for leading our school division through a period of powerful change. Our path toward equity for all remains ingrained into our culture, and we will continue to press forward in this challenging work, with vision, integrity and passion.
The writer is chair of the Alexandria School Board.