Every year right before school begins there is a time when I wonder if we are ready for the 600 students who will arrive in the morning for the first day of school -- the first day of a long 10 month trip. It is similar to the feeling of embarking on a camping trip and wondering if you have all you need to last you the trip. Did you remember to bring enough clothes, food or bug spray? This trip is no different.
Although the West Portal staff has been working tirelessly to get the school ready, we find ourselves checking and rechecking to be sure we are ready for our students and families on the first day of school. This includes having enough supplies, a safe clean campus, and classrooms that are conducive to an engaging and supportive learning environment for ALL our students. The preparation has included not only the physical environment, but also the learning environment. Yes, we have made some awesome changes and improvements to our physical environment (campus). Some of the bungalows and all yard areas have been painted. Security cameras and outdoor speakers were installed throughout our campus too. New furniture replaced broken chairs and tables. Many of the roofs of our bungalows on the yard were repaired and the custodial staff deep cleaned all of the classrooms, offices, library, auditorium and hallways.
We also worked to improve our learning environment. Along with a large amount of collaborative planning, the staff came together this last week to learn how to best support all of our students both academically and socially/emotionally. We spent three days learning from experts and each other on implementing a Balanced Literacy approach, components of the new Math Curriculum and how we inclusively support our students who receive special education services. Each day we spent time building our staff community by learning more about each other, appreciating what we all bring to our school and what it means to have a growth mind set versus a fixed mind set. The excitement around this learning was a great starting point and set the groundwork for our continued learning throughout the school year. We are excited to share our practices and learning with the entire community and to join us in the work of supporting ALL of our students.
So, are we ready for the 600 students who will arrive on Monday, August 17th? Do we have everything we need for the trip? I think we are. I think we do. And if we discover we are missing something, we will pick it up along the way. Welcome to the new school year.