Teachers return on Wednesday; new school year to begin Aug. 6By REBECCA LEFTWICH
When pre-planning begins Wednesday, Coweta County School System teachers and administrators – along with support staff – will begin the countdown to students’ return.
For some schools, that means wrapping up renovations. For others, it means reviewing and testing for summer school. For all, it means meetings and coordinating schedules and a building excitement about the new school year, which begins Aug. 6.
“The school comes back to life when everybody returns,” said Newnan High School Principal Doug Moore. “Staff meetings are finished. All of the planning and preparation goes into motion, and I can spend the day with gifted educators, skilled staff members and the best group of young people you will find anywhere.”
Newnan High School has undergone extensive renovations and modifications over the past 15 months, making Moore’s summer especially busy as construction winds down. Administrative offices in the main building – including Moore’s – are being renovated, so “we have been living out of boxes all summer,” Moore said.
“We meet with new teachers for a couple of days for orientation, then the whole staff comes back for three days,” Moore said, describing the period leading up to the first day of classes. “We have follow-up meetings with several groups, but I try to leave the teachers alone so they can work in their rooms for the majority of the pre-planning time.”
At East Coweta High School, Principal Evan Horton is entering his first year as head of the school.
“Our administrative team has been meeting throughout the summer to analyze our school achievement data, develop our school improvement plan and goals and develop our professional learning goals for the upcoming year,” Horton said, adding that working on staffing, new teacher orientation and details about the first day and week of school have been priorities for his team.
Pre-planning at ECHS is spent meeting and training teachers and staff on a variety of issues, Horton said.
“We also try to give teachers as much time as possible to work in their classrooms during pre-planning so that they can prepare for the arrival of students,” he said.
Northgate teachers meet with the school’s leadership team to form goals for the new year prior to pre-planning, Reddekopp said, and together they create a School Improvement Plan.
“We usually have a group of 35-40 (leadership team members) and teachers who come together to talk about goals, which we will take back to all staff members,” she said.
Middle school principals and staff have been preparing as well.
“We will use some of our time during our pre-planning to meet with the teachers to discuss our CRCT data, ethics, safety plans and professional learning,” said Arnall Middle School Principal Jan Franks, who is entering her fifth year. “Teachers will also have time in their classrooms to prepare for the first day of school.”
Reviewing the previous year and making improvement plans for the next is a part of each summer’s work at Lee Middle School as well, said Principal Bob Heaberlin, who has been at the school since it opened in 2006.
“During pre-planning, the staff goes over schedules, supervision duties and the school improvement plan, as well as conducting team meetings,” Heaberlin said, adding that his favorite part of coming back to school is the excitement of staff, students and parents that a new year brings.
Evans Middle School’s Melissa Wimbush is in her second year as principal, and she says she enjoys listening to summer vacation stories and meet-and-greets with the students and parents. Wimbush, along with other Coweta administrators, has worked with staff on Common Core Georgia Performance Standards implementation.
“Lots of planning has gone into preparing for the rollout of the new revised standards,” Wimbush said. “Teachers will be busy preparing how they will plan their lessons to meet the needs of their new students during the first nine weeks.
“One of the main goals at Evans will be incorporating literacy and writing within all content areas, including Connections classes such as art, music and physical education,” she added.
With student orientations at all Coweta County schools set for Aug. 3 – the Friday before school starts – Wimbush and other principals say parents can begin their own “pre-planning” period with their students.
“The advice I would give to parents is to begin now having discussions about ways to have a successful school year,” Wimbush said. “Talk about expectations, set goals together and emphasize the value of learning by encouraging their children to do their very best.”
“Together, let’s set our goals high for student success,” she said. “Stay involved all year with your child’s academic progress. Sign up for Parent Portal if you have not already done so, and get on teachers’ email lists so that you are informed of the work of your student. I would also encourage communication among parents, teachers, students, counselors and administrators.”
Moore also encouraged parents to use Parent Portal to check student progress, as well as to stay connected to school staff.
“Parents should not hesitate to begin a dialogue with teachers as soon as questions arise,” Moore said. “Teachers, administration, staff members, parents and students are all working toward the same goal: a well-prepared graduate.
“My advice to parents is to encourage students to set achievement goals for the upcoming year,” he added. “Approach the year the with positive attitude. The slate is clean. Everybody starts with a 100 in the grade book. Get plenty of rest, and be at school each day. Be prepared for class.”
Heaberlin encouraged parents to establish a healthy school routine beginning well in advance of the first day.
“Parents should start preparing their students for returning to school by having them get more rest and realize they will be getting up earlier in the mornings as they return to the routine of going to school,” he said, adding that parents also should familiarize themselves with the school and staff at orientation, make sure they have the correct bus routes and allow their students to ride the bus on the first day if they are going to be bus riders.
“This will be a great help to the school and transportation,” he said.