The Bexley City School District is devoting resources to aid students' emotional well-being and will soon enlist the community in a facilities master-plan process, Superintendent Kimberly Pietsch Miller said at the inaugural State of the Schools address on Feb. 26.

The event, held at Bexley High School's Schottenstein Theater, also included the Bexley Education Foundation's presentation of two awards: the Glick Family Educator of the Year Award to Bexley High School math teacher Melissa McCreary and the Linda Kass Excellence in Education Award to former school board member Melissa Lacroix.

One of the key focus areas of the Bexley Blueprint, the strategic plan the district adopted in summer 2018, is on monitoring and maintaining students' social and emotional well-being, Miller said. To that end, she said, the district has begun using a tool called Panorama, an online assessment that enables the district to gauge students' development.

"We're able to assess where they are in terms of perseverance, sense of achievement, sense of belonging," she said. "As we get that data, we then are able to identify places where our students are performing or developing consistent with the national average and maybe where we're below the national average. And that allows us to then put programming and strategies into place to support the development of those literacies."

Miller said as a result of the strategic plan, the district added three instructional coaches this school year: an elementary literacy coach, an elementary numeracy coach and a secondary coach. The coaches work with teachers on instructional strategy and analyzing data.

"As a result of having coaching, we have been able to significantly improve our processes for writing reading intervention monitoring plans for our K-3 children who need that result," Miller said. "That's one direct result of instructional coaching."

The district also will soon engage the community in a master-plan process to determine future needs of the district's buildings and other facilities, Miller said.

Through the plan, "we can look at our spaces, the energy efficiency of our spaces and optimization of our spaces for our students," she said. "We do not have a plan. We simply are at the beginning stages of saying, let's start to take a look, let's put a plan in place for capital maintenance and let's investigate what we might be able to do with our facilities or what our community would like to do."

Representatives of the Bexley Education Foundation previously presented McCreary with the Educator of the Year Award by surprising her in her classroom Feb. 13. At the State of the Schools, she received a $1,000 cash award and an engraved award in the shape of an apple.

Upon accepting the Linda Kass Excellence in Education Award, Lacroix said the foundation's funding of teacher projects through private donations is essential to students' success.

"Having served on the board and other capacities in the district, I have seen firsthand what these impacts mean to our students," she said. "We are so fortunate to have residents who understand the value of supporting what's possible instead of settling only for state requirements."

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