All of a sudden, it’s time to begin school again. Our schools are almost ready. Floors shine. Open Houses are planned. Renovations and modernization work are coming to closure. Buses are washed, gassed and ready to roll. New teachers began last week and experienced teachers return this week. Athletes and band students have begun to practice for fall activities.
We are excited to welcome about 13,500 children to our 26 schools on August 19.
We Have an app for that!
To keep track of school activities in our schools, school calendar activities, and updated announcements, consider downloading our Albemarle County Public Schools app (Albemarle County PS) for your android or iPhone at Apple Apps Store or at Google play.
It’s been a busy summer across Albemarle County Public Schools for our teachers.
School had barely ended in June and we convened almost 300 teachers and principals in school leadership teams to work on curricula, assessment, and instruction. Teachers explored multiple strategies to engage learners in active, deep learning. They worked on designing paths for children and teens to engage in problem-solving and project research that leads to hands-on and collaboration experiences. Teachers together across grade levels, content areas, and even schools created opportunities for students to design, create, engineer, build, and make when they start the 2015-16 School Year. Throughout July, almost all teachers participated in professional development and training to prepare for changes in curricular content, review assessments, extend tech skills, and build instructional units.
Then, our new teachers, 130 strong, arrived last week to get ready to work with our learners, build teams, and meet experienced mentor teachers, instructional coaches, and tech learning integration specialists.
Here’s one example of a unit two fourth teachers designed this summer. Imagine the teachers introducing their children to a variety of tools to help them research how insects benefit the planet. Consider the children completing research that leads them to plant flower beds at school that will attract insects.
Think about those fourth graders first collecting data and observations on insect visitors (especially bees) to their flowers; then making a communications plan to persuade families and our greater community to plant native plants that are bee-friendly. This teacher-designed unit supports fourth graders to acquire lifelong learning skills. Through interdisciplinary studies that integrate math, writing, reading, science, and geography, these young students will pursue questions and sustain curiosity culminating in projects designed to deepen their learning.
Our principals have worked as if school never ended and that’s no surprise given the number of programs we’ve run for children throughout the summer. Even as they’ve worked on schedules, class assignments, and planning, they’ve been working with summer programming attended by students. As I’ve visited schools, it’s been wonderful to see how positive and supportive our young people are with each other, particularly given the multi-age nature of our summer activities.
- Elementary and middle schools sponsored summer maker and project-based learning programs in every school.
- Our first elementary arts “Sight and Sound” academy ran at Baker-Butler.
- The Coder Dojo Academy again ran at AHS serving over 600 K-12 students participating in learning to code and create wearable LED art.
- Teen leaders gathered in our Leadership Academy at the County Office Building to plan ways to empower student voices across our high schools.
- Our regional Fine Arts Academy at Burley Middle School added a fourth jazz band this summer to meet student interest – and we ran full sessions in creative writing, drama, and visual arts.
- Our newest Rock and Rap Academy at AHS overflowed with kids. 6th -12th grade, all set on one goal – to compose and perform pop music.
- African-American middle school males in our M-Cubed Academy worked on algebra and geometry projects at Burley.
- Bridge building middle school girl geeks convened in the woods near the Rivanna River with MESA Academy support and spent a week engineering and constructing a bridge across the river.
- Children in the English as Second Language Program participated in a Community Immersion program to visit historical sites across the region.
- Special Education students had opportunities to participate in support programs designed to sustain key skills across the summer.
- Kindergarteners, sixth graders, and ninth graders attended pre-school activities designed to help them make positive transitions into new schools.
- Summer interns worked with our tech support staff to set up new laptops and re-image our existing student technologies.
We’ve had a wonderful summer.
Now, the start of school is just around the corner. We look forward to a year of positive experiences for our students, their teachers, and our school communities. Welcome!