School Notes: Upper Arlington community, staff working together to support students

Paul Imhoff
Guest Columnist

As we look back on 2020, we safely can say that this is a year unlike any other we have experienced.  

Our Upper Arlington Schools staff, students and families are continuing to show flexibility as we face new challenges in this pandemic. We also have new hope – with the arrival of the vaccine – and better days are on the horizon.  

Paul Imhoff

This school year, I am truly amazed by everything the families in our community – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other friends and loved ones – are doing to support the children they love. And I continue to be in awe of our incredible staff as they rise to the challenge of different models for teaching, learning and operating the vital services for the students in our school district.  

Every day our teachers are finding new ways to connect with students and provide high-quality instruction. Still, we know that during these difficult times, students are likely to need even more support. 

Along with a focus on continuous improvement, our strategic plan has two goals: whole learning and student and staff well-being. Our mission is to challenge and support every student every step of the way. Ensuring that our students feel that support and are finding balance and belonging in this unusual school year is our top priority. 

It’s important for all students, parents, guardians and grandparents to remember that our school staff is here to support our students every day – no matter what learning model we are in at the time. If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to a teacher, counselor or principal. Our staff can help you connect with additional support – be it on a small scale or something to meet a more significant need. 

As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues, we have expanded our Medical Advisory Team of public health and infectious disease experts to include someone whose focus is the well-being of school-age children. I am pleased to welcome Dr. John Ackerman, a child clinical psychologist and the suicide prevention coordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital.  

We are grateful for the expert insight of these volunteers – and for Dr. Ackerman’s guidance as a mental health expert – as we look at the data and information we have available to determine the learning mode for our schools. We also look forward to working with Dr. Ackerman even more as we dive deeper into our well-being goal in the months ahead. 

I also am excited to welcome Matthew Boaz as our new executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). He comes to Upper Arlington from the city of Toledo, where he served as the director of diversity and inclusion. Our DEI commitment is a crucial part of our well-being goal and ensuring that every student feels welcomed, celebrated and supported in our schools. 

As we move forward in 2021, we are excited to welcome our students back into our buildings for in-person hybrid learning following winter break, and we look forward to having our students in school full time as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Paul Imhoff is superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools. Follow him on Twitter @imhoffpual. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.