Educators are encountering many confounding issues as we plan for the 2019-20 academic school year.
In the Hilliard City School District, the spring and early summer months are spent reflecting on last year’s events, data and achievements. We seek to expand and continue the successful initiatives and programs that had a positive impact in the new year. We look at programs that didn’t meet our expectations, data that might lag behind anticipated performance and initiatives that underperformed to determine what needs to be reformed or simply cut for the future.
Some of our decisions are simple.
Our collaboration with the Dublin City School District in presenting our “Be Well” events was a great success. There clearly is both a need and an interest within our parent communities to provide resources and speakers to engage about mental-health issues facing children. We are planning two “Parent University” events for the upcoming academic year in partnership with our neighbors in Dublin to continue the collaboration.
We also are proud of our work with Hope Squads and the work being led by Mike Abraham, our director of student well-being. The Hope Squads in our middle schools and high schools have made a significant difference in the culture and climate in the buildings. Engaging secondary students about anxiety and stress is essential in the work we do in public education. The 2018-19 school year was a first step on a continued journey to support each student.
We also know we have room for improvement.
We must continue to partner with students, parents and teachers regarding the influence of technology and social media on students’ well-being. We, like many parents, have concerns about balancing screen time and traditional learning tools.
We have made changes to our device management over the past several years. Hilliard’s “App Portal” permits us to limit the applications elementary and middle school students can add to their school-owned devices. Apple Classroom provides teachers with a tool to lock student iPads to a single application and to monitor each iPad in their specific classroom.
Our partners at Apple have worked with the district to add new features to the device-management portfolio. We don’t want our students to be limited to devices as learning options. We see iPads as a tool – not the teacher. We strive for a healthy balance as we prepare students for life in the professional world that is becoming more dependent on handheld devices.
We are concerned with the influence of social-media platforms on students’ well-being. Our community book talks and Digital Wellness Month have become state models for engaging parents and teachers about how to keep our children safe in this digital world. We encourage parents to continuously monitor your child’s social-media accounts.
For some, these summer months lead to isolation and withdrawal from personal interaction. As educators and parents, we strive to cultivate real, face-to-face relationships for our young people. Resources, such as Michelle Borba’s “UnSelfie,” provide perspective and strategies for working with our children in this digital age.
We all have room to improve. We strive for the appropriate balance and ask for your assistance, too. As we seek to balance screen time on iPads, students still engage with their personal devices and iPhones. It truly does take a village.
Finally, as a district, we continue to engage students about the dangers of vaping and Juuling.
As your superintendent, I believe this is a most concerning public-health threat to our young people. The proliferation of these nicotine-delivery systems is staggering. National statistics are unnerving, but the narrative shared by our students is even worse.
I know I’m dating myself, but “back in the day,” parents had clear signs if a child was smoking or chewing tobacco. Furthermore, even getting started as a smoker wasn’t pleasant. Today, these delivery systems are designed to taste like gum or sweets. There is no distinctive smell or byproduct to warn parents, teachers or coaches.
This is becoming a health crisis and it is going to take all of us – parents, families and educators – working together. We don’t have it “right” yet, but we will be vigilant in our actions.
Your Hilliard City School District is proud of the work we’ve done, but we aren’t satisfied.
We live our “growth mindset” with the belief that we need to be better next year than we were this past year. The work we do is part of a journey – a journey without a specific destination.
The class of 2019 has graduated, but the beat goes on.
From our seniors, the class of 2020, to the class of 2032, we have the awesome responsibility to prepare each individual student to be ready for tomorrow.
Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.