Back to School
With a variety of improvements underway this summer, Wayne County students can expect to experience a fresh and inviting learning environment when they return to campus. Robust student services and specialized trainings to empower educators will benefit the entire student body.
“We’re excited to see all of our students coming back to school,” said Wayne County School Superintendent Wayne Roberts. “We believe we have a lot to offer them and are anxious to see them succeed. We have an exceptional educational staff.”
Students can expect a competitive level of learning that is safe, nurturing and engaging. Additional classes, programs, and new staff members have been added to the mix that students are learning about at their individual orientations, prior to the first day of classes on Wednesday, August 15. Classes will convene at 8:15 a.m. and conclude at 3:15 p.m. Transportation will be provided on opening day and motorists are cautioned to be aware of the extra traffic and watch for the school bus stop arms when children are being picked up and let off.
“We are proud of our safety record and we want our parents to know we have a lot of tenured and experienced drivers on board,” said Transportation Director Don Neal. “We have not had a big turn over with our drivers and that is a good thing. Our drivers run the same routes from year to year and have built relationships with their student passengers. It is like they are their own kids, when you have been driving them on a route for so many years.”
Besides the regular routes and the am and pm preschool routes, which include bus monitors on board; the district buses travel many miles for extra-curricular opportunities. Scheduling, safety monitoring, and bus maintenance inspections keep the fleet rolling.
“This has been an extremely busy summer of professional learning for the staff at Wayne County Schools. District professional development has focused on the most effective teaching practices within each content area, with the goal of setting the instructional focus for the upcoming year,” explained Chief Academic Officer Brian Dishman.
“In addition to the state required 24 hours of professional development, approximately 50 teachers have participated in specialized learning through the Kentucky Reading Project and Kentucky Writing Project. These professional learning opportunities were made possible by funds from the Striving Readers grant, and support the district’s on-gong focus on literacy,” Dishman explained.
Several new employees have been hired; along with employee transfers to different positions have occurred over the summer. For instance, former Monticello Elementary Principal Stewart York is now serving as the director of pupil personnel for the district. Former Monticello Elementary Assistant Principal Virginia Cares is now the principal for the third, fourth and fifth grade school and former Wayne County Middle School Teacher Mitchell Gregory is the new assistant principal. All of the new employees will be introduced to the entire staff at an opening day celebration for the classified and certified employees on Monday.
Safety is utmost on the minds of the staff and improvements have been made in that area too. Keyless entry doors have been installed at each building specifically for law enforcement and other first responders to gain instant access during an emergency response. “Along with this, we are implementing a uniform door numbering system for each school that is consistent with standardized emergency management organizational procedures,” explained Director of Pupil Personnel Stewart York.
In addition, each school has installed controlled access hardware at main office entrances so that visitors are restricted either from gaining instant access to the main building from the front office, from gaining access to the front office from the exterior of the building, or both. Revisions have also been made to the emergency response plans at the buildings.
Most recently, the district is participating in the Kentucky Center for School Safety’s S.T.O.P. Tip line. “This will serve as an online reporting/prevention tool for students and other members of the school community to anonymously report tips via email concerning bullying, violence, weapons possession, alcohol/drug possession or use, or any other unsafe condition,” said York.
“We will continue to encourage students and all members of the community that if they ‘See Something, SAY Something’ to an adult as quickly as possible. This is absolutely the number one thing that all of us can do to best improve school safety for all,” noted York.
Student health is another area of concern. Health booths set up at the orientations are directing the parents to make sure their students receive at least one of the two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine by the start of school. School nurses are explaining what vaccines are age-appropriate at each school level and wellness opportunities made possible through the Healthy Kids Clinic.
The technology department realizes they provide a valuable resource to the students and take pride in providing a world-class network for the school community. They continually make improvements to the existing infrastructure in the buildings, as well as the external infrastructure from the data center to all of the schools.
“We are continuing to provide 1:1 Chromebooks at the middle school and high school,” said Technology Director Johnny Chaplin. “All returning WCHS students were able to keep their Chromebook and use it over the summer. Ninth grade students will be getting their Chromebook beginning at orientation. WCMS students will be getting their Chromebook at their orientation, as well. It is important for all students to realize that they must complete a new acceptable use agreement and purchase the insurance policy for the new school year. Many students were able to take advantage of this insurance last year and saved them and their parents a great deal of money,” said Chaplin.
Technology skills continue to be upgraded through staff trainings using Edvergent. All of the schools participated in both summer trainings, as well as trainings spread throughout the school year so teachers can learn about innovative tools to engage students.
“In addition, each school has a designated technology resource teacher (TRT) to provide support for staff and in particular new staff to the district to make sure they are comfortable with all the technology Wayne County uses,” noted Chaplin.
Other student services begin at the youngest level. The childcare center has relocated from Monticello Elementary to a pod facility adjacent to Walker Early Learning Center. Besides daycare options, a wrap-around program headed by a certified teacher is perfect for preschoolers, whose parents are interested in enrichment opportunities to help their child prepare for their academic future. Enrollment has been so strong at the kindergarten level, that an extra teacher was added to accommodate the additional students.
While many of the students took a break over the summer, the learning continued for many others thanks to programs offered through Wayne County Schools. The 21st Century Learning Program provided another exciting camp including everything from literacy to adventure. The Gifted and Talented program offered a trip to Australia and New Zealand, which proved to be an outstanding learning experience. Extended school services provided summer school classes and the food service department operated the Lunchbox Express mobile unit to provide nutritious lunches to children.