CHARLOTTESVILLE, 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. Rosa Atkins of Charlottesville had to say.
1. What do you believe your school system’s biggest strength is?
With small class sizes and great teachers, at Charlottesville City Schools, we guide students on a pathway to a bright future. We offer neighborhood schools with a global perspective. We promote both academic excellence and extracurricular fun. We integrate math and science into reading, writing, and the arts. This year, we renewed our commitment to making sure that our schools fully extend these opportunities and supports to all students to eliminate race and income as predictors for success in school and in life.
2. What are you most looking forward to this school year?
Throughout the 2018-19 school year, Charlottesville City Schools fostered conversations about educational equity and racial justice. We have done good work in this area in the past, but we are concentrating our efforts and energy to make sure that our schools work for everyone.
Four focus areas have emerged for us:
This includes diversifying our staff and equipping our educators to succeed and help all students succeed.
and Rigorous Learning Experiences
Let’s embrace our diversity — in classrooms’ student composition and in richly varied and challenging learning activities.
As we help our staff and students feel connected, supported, and safe, we will learn from one another for our mutual gain.
We want to be systematic and proactive as we make positive change. Let’s follow — and establish — best practices.
3. What changes can parents expect to see in your school system this year?
As we work on these four equity goals, I hope families will see concrete changes. We had our most successful year in recent memory for recruiting highly qualified teachers and administrators of color, and we have done extensive professional learning in areas such as institutional and implicit bias, restorative justice, and more. We have created a new model for gifted education to serve not only students identified as “gifted,” but all students. Instead of pulling a small number of students out of classrooms for enrichment activities with gifted specialists, we are bringing gifted resource teachers into classrooms to offer all students the creative and challenging activities associated with gifted education. Similarly, we are expanding our “honors-option” classes. Honors-option classes allow students in the same classroom to elect standard-level or honors-level credit for the course, depending on the student’s choice in the chosen complexity and rigor of the readings and assignments. This promotes greater equity, diversity, and perspectives within a given classroom, which benefits all students. These are just a few examples of some of the changes we are rolling out. Aside from program changes, I hope families and staff feel the good energy of these commitments to welcoming and supporting everyone in our learning community.
4. Is there anything else you want parents to know ahead of this school year?
We want parents to know that they are our most important partners, and that we want to work with them to help their children grow and reach their goals. We invite families to stay up-to-date by following along with @CvilleSchools on social media, customizing how you hear from us (phone, email, or text), and using low-tech ways to stay tuned (check your child’s backpack). But aside from staying up to date, let’s also stay in touch. Some ways include attending PTO meetings or back-to-school nights. But more important than any of this is an individual relationship. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out via email, phone call, or setting up an appointment. Your teachers, your principal, the School Board, and all of us in the division’s central offices want to work with you to support your student.