Students in the Marshalltown Community School District are heading back to class on Tuesday, and Director of Instruction Shauna Smith and Superintendent Theron Schutte took a look ahead at what to expect during the new school year.
Schutte is looking forward to a semester less permeated by pandemic concerns, and he is hoping for a school year that feels more normal than the last few. It’s already off to a more routine start, as Back to School Night is being held in person for the first time since fall 2019.
Back to School Night is an event that will be held at every school building in the district on Monday evening from 4:30 to 6:30, and it provides an opportunity to meet teachers, see school buildings and get pumped for the new school year prior to the first day of school on Tuesday.
“That’s really something that’s really been, I think missing in terms of our ability to maintain the same kind of connectedness that we had with families prior to the pandemic,” Schutte said.
For the most part, Schutte felt that school would look very similar to how it did pre-COVID, and in-person engagement is going to be a priority for the new school year since that has been relatively lacking in the last two years.
That engagement starts with Back to School Night, and Smith hoped the event would put any lingering jitters to rest as families will be able to familiarize themselves with teachers and each building’s layout. Smith also said that backpacks for students who have a need for one will also be available at the event.
“(The backpacks) are plain and simple, but it is something for those students who really have that need and we have a lot of them to give away, so we’re really excited to get them into the hands of our students,” Smith said.
Smith and Schutte described the event as an open house for the different buildings, and parents and families are welcome to filter in and out between 4:30 and 6:30, as there is no need to remain for the entire duration of the event.
Back to School Night is just the beginning of the school year, and Smith said maintaining engagement throughout the year begins with a student’s classroom attendance, which is a crucial part of their learning.
“We know that the more students attend, the more engaged they are in their learning and the more they are able to reach their fullest potential, so we ask that parents really partner with us in making sure students come to school on time,” Smith said.
Smith also stressed that there are resources within the MCSD that are there to help parents find “the right recipe” to get students to class if there are any barriers. Parents need only reach out to their child’s school.
The pandemic resulted in many changes throughout the district, and now that things are, in a sense, returning to normal, Schutte is eager to see how the more routine school year shapes up.
“I think we’re in a great position to turn the focus away from the safety concerns and issues that we’ve had in the recent past with the pandemic and really kind of focus in on, you know, how do we get better as students and employees at doing what we do on a daily basis,” Schutte said.
Schutte wants to really help teachers hone in on finding ways to enhance teaching methods so they can go from good to great, and he is looking forward to being able to find the best ways to address achievement gaps and learning loss.
“I’m really, really excited to see what we can do within the context of the regular school day for all students to help with some of that missed and or lost learning. And then also, continuing to provide supplemental opportunities through both interventions that we do during the school day, for the students most in need, but then the after school programming, the summer school programming, the high dosage tutoring, those types of things that we’ve been doing to, first and foremost, help kids rebound from COVID, but in reality, I think all of these things are critically important just to have our best shot at helping kids remove any learning gaps,” Schutte said.
Schutte said the district is in a good position to fully implement all of the information and techniques they have been learning regarding Social Emotional Learning this year as well, and 51 new teachers are also being welcomed to Marshalltown this fall.
The first week of school has officially arrived, and MCSD staff and teachers can’t wait to meet this year’s students.
“We want our students to be ready to be a bobcat and, you know, show pride, and continue to build each other up with positivity. Our teachers are ready to welcome them with open arms, and we couldn’t be more excited to get the 22-23 school year launched,” Smith said.
Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or email@example.com.