Ahh, it’s back to school time. That magical time of year when parents eagerly prod their groggy children out of bed earlier than they have been accustomed for the past two and a half months. Whistling a happy tune, with a smile wider than they’ve had all summer, these joyful parents get their children to the bus stop or drive them school. The children begin a transformation back to their former student lives as they become increasingly more enthusiastic and energetic the closer they get to their school…and friends.
Kindergarten is a unique exception for the first day of school. Parents bring their little ones to school possibly for the first time. Pictures being snapped. Mistrusting children being reassured by the teacher that mommy will be back to pick them up at the end of the day. Children crying and clinging to their parents’ legs. Other children eagerly separating themselves from their parents to rush off and explore first day activities the teacher has set out for them. The frantic teacher trying to separate the clinging children from their parents and the clinging parents from their children, while handing out tissues to them all.
Fortunately, the first day of kindergarten in Mariposa County Unified School District is customarily much different. Our teachers provide time for parents to bring their children in before the first day of school to become familiar with the classroom, meet their teacher and possibly some of their new peers. This time provides a relaxed opportunity for parents to talk to the teacher as well, making the first day of school a much more positive experience for everyone.
MCUSD staff are excited and prepared to welcome back our students on Aug. 21. Our number one goal is to provide a safe and secure learning environment. Additional planning and safety measures have been put into place. New security and notification systems are currently being implemented, with others planned. Training is being provided to staff and the various emergency drills will be practiced very early in the school year and performed regularly in order for students and staff to automatically know what to do in a variety of crisis situations.
In light of the Ferguson Fire, Mariposa County is assisting us to install air quality sensors at our schools. We will take precautions to protect students as necessary and plan for indoor activities when needed. Athletics practices and games will be closely monitored and adjusted when required.
The district also been busily preparing classrooms and conducting modernization projects through Measure L bond money. Roofing and dry rot, septic systems, ADA compliance and replacement of HVAC units are some of the projects undertaken this summer.
Our mission in MCUSD is to empower all students with enriching learning opportunities so they can realize their full potential. With that follows our vision that MCUSD students will be responsible, productive and competitive in a global society. Our recently created motto is “Everyone a Learner Everyday.”
This not only includes all of our students, but also all of our teachers, administrators and support staff. This summer, teachers and many other staff participated in professional development trainings to learn more about the curriculum they will be teaching, best instructional strategies and practices and job specific trainings to hone skills in their particular areas of expertise. Yes, everyone a learner is a core philosophy in MCUSD, and an investment in our students.
As students return to classrooms on Aug. 21, there are many positive things parents and guardians can do to prepare their children for an excellent start and a productive year of learning:
• Begin right now getting back into the school routine. Going to bed and waking up on time will prevent a mad scramble causing stress the first day and/or week of school.
• Go to the classroom and meet your child’s teacher. Be sure the teacher and the school office know how to reach you.
• Complete the online registration in a timely manner so the school has all the information and forms it needs for your child to begin on the first day.
• Please complete and submit the lunch application form. Even if you choose not to have your child participate in the school lunch program, school funding is now based on the number of students qualifying for free and reduced priced meals. Our schools may lose out on funding if these forms are not submitted.
• Be sure your child has all their immunizations before the first day of school.
• Become involved in your child’s classroom and school. The more involved you are, the more engaged your child will be in school. School Site Council and parent-teacher clubs are great opportunities to meet other parents and learn more about the school.
• Get your child to school on time every day. Absences and tardies add up and cause deficits in learning. They can also create bad habits which can be difficult to overcome later.
• Ask your child about school and their schoolwork. Look over their homework and ask them to explain part of it to you. This shows your interest in what they are learning and that you value school.
• Be sure you know what your child is doing online. Monitor what websites and apps they are accessing on their computers and phones. Ask your child’s teacher or principal for help if you have concerns about your child’s online activity.
• Read with your child every day. I cannot stress how important reading is. Reading develops language, vocabulary, imagination, establishes real world interests, expands technical knowledge and so many other vital skills.
The 2018-2019 school year is going to be phenomenal! We look forward to seeing all of our students next week.
Robin Hopper is the superintendent of the Mariposa County Unified School District