JACKSON – Officials and educators breathed a sigh of relief noting a successful graduation and award season for students at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year.
“I think we’re back to normal,” Board of Education President Michael Walsh remarked during the June Board of Education meeting.
He said it in reference to pandemic conditions which over the span of the last three school years have caused health and safety restrictions on students and staff including remote learning, masking, extensive cleansing of school facilities, and a hybrid format of learning – all of which impacted the entire school system.
“It was a very challenging year after the kids were home for a couple of years,” Board member Erica Osmond said.
Board members congratulated students who recently graduated from high school. They also commended those involved with commencement exercises across the school system.
“I’ve worked here my whole life and lived here 99 percent of my life and we have some of the most amazing students, teachers, administrators and central administration,” Walsh added.
Former Board of Education member Gus Acevedo recommended that district leaders, administrators, teachers and staff be cognizant of students who may be coming into the district from smaller school districts and require more time to adapt to a larger school system like Jackson’s.
“We have to make them feel welcome as some will see as shocking with the size of the school even though our schools aren’t as large as some other public schools. I suggest you take that consideration and that certain kids aren’t used to large schools,” Acevedo said.
He also recommended that educators utilize its many audio-visual and computer systems to provide special programs or screen lesson-based films such as “Schindler’s List” to a large audience of students.
“We have our teachers assign peer students to help them with transitioning and our school counselors helping with that,” Superintendent Nicole Pormilli said.
She also mentioned in regards to Acevedo’s other suggestion that the educators use an online platform to gather special guest speakers who can come into the classroom virtually and are from varied backgrounds and areas of expertise. “We have had great opportunities to have them speak to students – doctors, astronauts, all sorts of things like that – so many of the things you said we do.”
The school district is also expanding its YMCA counseling series to include all the district’s schools.
Superintendent Pormilli said during the meeting that she was watching the district’s enrollment and that there was a meeting with the Board Committee that monitors that.
She noted the administration’s focus on the bus driver shortage and reported several new bus drivers were hired in the last year. All bus drivers are being trained on new technology that is being used that will help track the status of bus transportation including newly issued identification cards that students are using to board the buses.