As our hot and humid August days wind down, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a relaxing, safe and fun filled end to the summer months. We are all looking forward to another great year at the Rockport Public Schools and are pleased to welcome a number of new staff members and new resident and school choice students and their families to our educational community.
I am extremely pleased about the quality and expertise of the teachers and support staff that will be joining our schools this academic year. I believe that the most important key to the success of a school system is to place the best possible people in front of your children on a day-to-day basis.
A well-deserved note of recognition and most sincere thanks goes out to our year-round support staff who all have done such a fabulous job this summer getting our buildings and grounds ready and for making all the needed preparations for another busy year. One example, I am also sure you will notice with great pride, is the new walkway surfaces in front of the elementary school. Town of Rockport Capital Improvement funds provided the ability to make this much-needed safety upgrade. Plans call for finishing out the rest of the areas in front of the Middle School/High School over the next two years, finances permitting. We are also hoping to soon finalize plans for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to install solar panels on the roofs of both schools in the coming months that will provide significant energy savings and further teach our students about sustainable energy practices and alternatives.
Our major school initiative this year will be centered on instituting appropriate training protocols to improve overall school safety, especially in response to the very rare but possible violent critical threat to our school community while in session. It is certainly unsettling to all of us to have to think of and plan for this scenario but it is essential that we do so in a well thought out and age appropriate manner, being sensitive to the full range of psychological mindsets and ages of all the individuals who work and seek an education in our schools. To this end we will be conducting extensive training and drills with all of our school staff at our upcoming opening workshop day on Tuesday, August 28th in conjunction with the Rockport Police Department using the nationally recognized best practices A.L.I.C.E approach to dealing with school safety (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). This fall we will also be conducting age-appropriate and announced drills with our students on September 17th and November 19th. More information will be forthcoming prior to the actual drills through both Connect Ed and a forum for all parents to be held on the night of September 12th at 6:30 PM in the auditorium.
We will also be further expanding the Co-Teaching model to more classrooms this year whereby a regular subject or grade-level instructor is paired with a special education teacher. In addition, we will be putting a Response to Intervention (RTI) system in place for the early identification and outreach to provide services with targeted resources for our students who struggle to meet our academic and social emotional expectations.
Finally, we will be continuing the efforts we began last school year to develop techniques to further increase the level of motivation and engagement of our students, increase ways for them to have more voice and choice in their learning, foster avenues for students and staff to take on more leadership roles and provide more community opportunities and venues to showcase our educational achievements, and to thank our community for giving us the resources necessary to provide for the best educational experience possible.
We look forward to the opening day of school for all students on Wednesday, August 29, 2018. Please feel free to contact me by phone, email or personal visit to my office at any time this school year to share your thoughts for the future or your concerns and frustrations should they arise.