PETERSBURG, Va( WRIC) — 8News reached out to every school system in Central Virginia to see how superintendents are preparing for the coming school year. Here is what Superintendent Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin of Petersburg had to say.

1. What do you believe your school system’s biggest strength is?

Without question, our people are our biggest strength: our students and our teachers and school employees. Also, community partnerships and support are strong for Petersburg schools.

2. What are you most looking forward to this school year?

I am looking forward to students and teachers returning to classrooms! The best part of being a superintendent is connecting with young people and getting to know our teachers. Spending time in schools is important for me.

3. What changes can parents expect to see in your school system this year?

To build a strong academic program for all students, we are narrowing our focus. We will be doing fewer things but doing them well. We will monitor instruction throughout the school year, ensure that the Virginia Standards of Learning are taught and move forward together.

Action plans are being put into place to improve attendance and boost student engagement at every Petersburg school. We need every student in school on time every day, and we are working with our teachers to create instruction that students will not want to miss. Additionally, every school will provide support during the school day for students who need extra help as well as providing after-school opportunities.

4. Is there anything else you want parents to know ahead of this school year?

Since July 1, which was my first day in Petersburg, I have spent time getting acquainted with the Petersburg community. Here are three truths I have learned:

· Petersburg students are smart, talented and resilient. When our schools and other community organizations provide opportunities and support, our students can compete with students from any other locality.

· Our teachers and school employees work hard and are dedicated to the young people of Petersburg. We will support our teachers and employees in strategic ways so that they are better positioned to help students succeed.

· Community support is strong for our students, teachers and schools. That is so important because schools cannot succeed on their own: It absolutely takes a village.