My View: Falling back into learning

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BY MELANIE KAY-WYATT, ED.D.

The doors have opened on the 2022- 23 academic year in Alexandria City Public Schools, and they are filled with hope and promise of new achievements for our students and the school community. It has been exciting to usher in a new school year as I take on the role of interim superintendent this month, after having served as the ACPS chief of human resources. As a long-time educator, I can assure our families that addressing the needs of all of our students is of the utmost importance.

Thankfully, as our students and staff return to school this year, COVID-19 is being managed with a vaccine now available for all school-age children and testing that is readily available. Of course, our vigilance will continue as we exercise all measures to keep our schools safe and our students’ needs addressed. This includes maintaining a curriculum focused on the social, emotional and academic learning needs of our students. SEAL provides students with the opportunity to better understand their emotions. These lessons also help students to build connections with their peers and the school staff.

I believe that as ACPS takes a whole child approach to education; we are creating a system that helps to equitably prepare each student to achieve their full potential. We do this by creating environments of belonging where students can thrive and hone their skills in all subjects – from mathematics to literacy to science and beyond. The idea is to stir each student’s level of attention and to help increase their perception and memory to better retain knowledge. This means our students’ health also needs to be addressed, including getting sufficient sleep and a healthy-balanced diet. In turn, these actions can help our students cope with life’s stressors and move forward in achieving their goals.

It certainly will help this academic year as once again we will all be able to experience activities that had to either face limitations or be canceled amid the pandemic. This is welcome news, in particular for our sports, music, arts and after-school programs that enrich our students’ educational experience and bring our school community together. While the academic part of learning is of the utmost importance, the opportunity for students to come together as part of a group in sports, theater or orchestra, to name a few, are equally important and enhance the overall learning experience that is part of their growth.

During the first few weeks of the new academic year, ACPS’ division leadership have been visiting our schools. These stops lend themselves to the opportunity of welcoming back our students and providing encouragement for another year filled with promise and high expectations. It is also a great way to ensure the needs of all of our schools are being met.

During the summer break, our leadership team prepared, along with our teachers and support staff, for an academic year that lives true to the ACPS pledge to provide an equitable, high quality education for all students. With the launch of our newly designed website, our families will see how the update readily provides need-to-know information and easy access to translation and interpretation services when needed.

I would also like to urge all of our ACPS families to take advantage of the variety of ways you can become involved in your child’s educational experience. The Family and Community Engagement Center is one way to get the information you need about resources available and activities to engage in as part of the school division. Becoming an active member in the Alexandria PTA Council is another way to exchange ideas and stay connected with your child’s school.

Beginning a new school year turns the page to another chapter in a learning experience that lasts a lifetime. As laid out in the ACPS 2025 Strategic Plan, our staff is ready to help empower each student as we remove barriers to learning, providing an inclusive experience where all students are afforded the opportunity to forge their own path forward to ensure their future success.


The writer is interim superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools.

 
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