County and city school resume after winter break
By Chaning Green
School district employees and students returned to the classroom this week in both Oxford and Lafayette County after two weeks of winter break. The second half of the school year is the final stretch for seniors, a new season for extra curriculars and much more for students and faculty alike.
Before the students returned on Thursday, faculty met Wednesday for a day of professional development. A major part of this day for both districts was a process known as vertical alignment. This is where teachers from different grades meet and discuss student performance and how that is intersecting with the curriculum they will be facing in the next school year. For example, sixth grade teachers would meet with their seventh grade counterparts to assess student strengths, sore spots and what they as teachers need to be focusing on in order to better prepare their students for their upcoming grade promotion.
These meetings are necessary in order to keep the successful grade promotion of students school district flowing properly and making sure students are being as well prepared as possible for during their last 18 weeks of the school year. Oxford Intermediate School took this process a step further on Thursday and Friday, when their students returned. Each English, science and math teacher took time to meet with every single one of their students to discuss goals for the year.
Teachers in these three subject areas met with students to discuss things like how what grade would they like to finish the year with and how to achieve that average by the end of the school year. They also discussed what classes the students might be interested in taking in middle school and what extra curriculars in which they would like to be involved.
Social studies and Insights gifted teachers met with students to discuss possible colleges the kids would be interested in attending. Teachers and students went over what it would take from a financial perspective as well as different admission requirements.
Principal Steve Hurdle said these meetings are meant to get students, who are reaching a very important time of decision making in their lives, to begin thinking about the future and in what direction they’d like to go.
“We want them to be thinking about how they want to do this year, as well as a little down the road with long-term goals,” Hurdle said. “We’d like to share this information with parents as well, after we compile it. Obviously, fifth and sixth graders aren’t always thinking very far into the future, but we’re trying to help them start that process. We want to get them thinking about middle school and looking at classes and extra curriculars. Then think about high school and maybe a little bit further into college.”
Principal Chad Chism of Lafayette County Middle School spent the professional development day working with his teachers and the district’s assistant superintendents. This was to discuss how to better prepare students for fluctuating graduation requirements and setting long-term goals for their school career. Teachers also met individually with Chism and his administrative team. Teachers would then go on to meet with other teachers for vertical alignment.
“I couldn’t be happier to have the kids back,” Chism said. “I think we’re going to accomplish some great things this year. That’s my expectation, and that’s our teachers’ expectations, and I think that’s our students’ expectations too. We have a great bunch of kids and we can take them a long way.”
Lafayette County Superintendent Adam Pugh said he is excited to get the school year going again for both professional and personal reasons. Pugh has three kids in the district and said that he’s happy to see everything get back to the usual flow of things.
“It’s kind of like the beginning of the school year in that it’s exciting for the kids to come back after a couple weeks off,” Pugh said. “I know for my own three, though they might not admit it, they like the routine. I have a senior this year, so this is it for him. It’s an exciting time to get back in school, get back in the routine and get everything going.”
Oxford Superintendent Brian Harvey said that he looks forward to the second half of the school year because the season known for renewal and new beginnings can be felt both in and out of classroom.
“Spring has its challenges, but now is where you really see students start to grow,” Harvey said. “The work that’s been put in throughout the fall semester, you really begin to see the effects of those, which of course corresponds with everything turning green. It’s just a refreshing time of the year. Personally, being a former baseball coach, spring is a special time. There are a lot of extracurricular that happen at this times well, from sports to band concerts. There’s a lot going on.”