Even though it marks the end of summer, I love starting a new school year. Like the new students I have met since the office opened in July, my heart is full of nervous hope and high expectations for all the wonderful things that this year holds.
The children’s optimism is a great reminder of the importance of what our staff is called to nourish, build, and grow as we welcome our students and families into our school and classrooms.
Last year we saw many wonderful developments, including: increased parent involvement and support of Friends of Gardner, our parent led fundraising group; the start of our Art Studio program; expansion of our music program to include ensembles; school-wide implementation of Writing Workshop; teams of teachers, many of them new to our school, working together to plan instruction aligned to the Common Core Standards and support each other in meeting our students’ needs; implementation of social/emotional learning through the Way of Council, a methodology that builds community and develops skills across the curriculum; Farm to Fork’s garden based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program; and so much more.
This year we are a school that is on the move again. We started the summer with a four-day training in Reading Workshop and will expand our classroom libraries as we implement this methodology so students have loads of reading material and instruction that is just right for them. We are revamping our art curriculum and relocating the art studio so that it’s more spacious and better organized for creating. We will implement a new math curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core and use new instructional technologies installed in classrooms just last week to improve learning. All our great programs – music, drama, PE, tech, Farm to Fork, and more – will continually be refined and improved to better meet students’ needs and raise the bar on depth and complexity throughout our whole curriculum.
Of course, with all new beginnings, anxiety is mixed up in the excitement. Most of the anxiety will rest in the hearts of parents who entrust to us what they cherish most and of our students who are full of expectation too. Here at Gardner Street School, the staff and I understand that what we have done year after year is a first step for our students and their families.
That is why, long before school started, our staff has been preparing for the year. When our students come to school on the first day they will enter classrooms that are decorated, with desks arranged, floors waxed, carpets cleaned, and lessons prepared to engage them. By the end of the first day, we expect all anxieties will have melted away and that our students will understand that not only have they come back to school, but that they have come home too.
Welcome back to school Gardner families!