It is a great week to be in the Valley!

As we wrap up our third week of school, our initiatives are beginning to take hold and I wanted to share some of our important ways we are working to help our students this year. The past thirty months have created many challenges and difficulties in learning, in social development and in community connection. We are striving to address that with many programs this year.

Learning has been challenged due to a wide range of issues from Wi-Fi connectivity, to altered teaching and learning and general access to the best teaching techniques that had to be paused for distancing reasons. Now we are getting back to normal instructional methods, incorporation of excellent strategies for learning and lots of extra help. We have two reading intervention teachers doing great work to support our students in both Fuller and Maplewood schools. We also have an instructional coach who works to support both our new teachers as well as teachers’ professional development through Professional Learning Communities and Professional Development. We have a full time librarian at Maplewood. Additionally, we have a Director of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction who coordinates all of these elements K-12. This is more academic help than we have had in many years. This is exciting! Our calendar this year provides us some important staff work time to examine our students’ learning needs. This year we will work to set our agenda for how we are going to address learning needs to advance our students. Next year, we will have more student centered instructional time to apply those plans for learning. I have written many times over the past few years that this disruption will not have a quick fix. It is going to be a long haul to get ourselves back to pre-pandemic levels of skills and knowledge. I know this is a challenge for our families and I appreciate the time we have to get our best game plan functioning this year so we can accelerate learning in future years. I call this phenomenon going slow to go fast. We are being very strategic with our time and calendar this year to help improve student outcomes going forward.

Advisory is going really well at the Junior/Senior High School. Our students are developing community, learning how to set and reflect on goals to meet their plans for the future and getting some life skills to help them in the workforce and their relationships with others. The energy and fun in the building is so much more positive and upbeat this year. It is fun to see the students’ high energy at lunch and as they walk around the track getting outside, talking and having a great time with their peers. Our goal to restrict phone use has also had the desired effect of our kids talking more to each other with eye contact and connections. The staff have reported to me that the kids are seeing these benefits and are doing really well with the new expectations. Keep an eye out as we prepare to let our Seniors tag their own parking space with a fundraiser to support the senior class. This is something I have wanted to promote for a long time so our Seniors have their own place in the Valley. We will be planning some fun activities around the painting and celebrating of our Seniors as they enter their final exciting year.

This is a year of Fun and Joy in learning! It is wonderful to be under weigh!

Dr. Bertolini