The new school year is inching ever closer in Huntington. More than 4,500 students are expected to flood into eight buildings on Wednesday, September 6 after a typically hectic summer for the district.
Building and department leaders are back on the job and teachers are slowly filtering into schools and organizing their classrooms so everything is perfect when the bell rings to start the year.
“As we prepare to welcome our students back to school in a few week, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing efforts in support of our children and their families,” wrote Superintendent James W. Polansky in a letter sent to the district’s faculty and support staff members last week. “Your steadfast commitment to ensuring that Huntington students have every opportunity to learn and grow and your willingness to continually reflect upon and improve your practice make you a very special group of people.”
The district’s annual convocation is set for Tuesday, September 5. Huntington School Board President Thomas DiGiacomo and Mr. Polansky will address employees. Building and department level faculty meetings will follow later in the day. Teachers will use remaining time to put the finishing touches on their classroom preparations.
As district officials continue to ramp up their efforts to improve academic performance, administrators and teachers will be working harder than ever. Dozens of faculty members used the summer to complete graduate level courses. Many others pursued curriculum projects while still more participated in one of the district’s summer classroom programs.
“The past school year was defined by the considerable accomplishments of Huntington students and staff; countless achievements in which we can all take great pride,” Mr. Polansky wrote in his letter. “With the approaching submission of the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan, this year will continue to be shaped by change at all levels. Regardless, we are well prepared to continue providing an optimal environment for teaching and learning, enhancing the curricular and extracurricular opportunities provided for our students and further developing as educational professionals.”
Buildings and grounds staff thoroughly cleaned every school building, scrubbing desks and walls and polishing floors. Numerous facility related projects were completed over the summer, including installation of air conditioning in the cavernous 1,850 seat high school auditorium.
The transportation office has been working with Huntington Coach Corp. to iron out any wrinkles in bus routes prior to the opening of the new school year. The district’s technicians have been busy installing various pieces of equipment for teacher and student use. Huntington will be incorporating the use of more technology than ever before into teaching and learning.
Equipment and supplies have been delivered to each of the district’s eight buildings and the items are being organized in classrooms. The district and all of its programs will be fully operational on the first day of classes.
“During the course of my reading this summer, a number items jumped off the pages,” Mr. Polansky wrote in his letter to faculty and staff. “As I thought further about these items, it was clear that several themes were beginning to emerge.”
Now in his seventh year as superintendent, Mr. Polansky asked administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals to consider the following five items:
• Take one day at a time. Every day is a new day. Past successes, failures and frustrations are behind us. What matters now is that we make the best of each moment. Recognize the daily opportunities we have to build relationships and connect with our students and colleagues.
• Avoid the “tyranny of the urgent.” With each day, each lesson, each action – recognize what is truly important and invest your time and energy accordingly. Do your best to avoid letting the “urgent” blur what matters most. People are always the priority.
• Assume the best. Give every student, parent, and colleague the benefit of the doubt. Assume they have the best of intentions and be willing to generously dole out grace – even (or especially) when it is not easy or when you feel it is undeserved.
• Be a family. Involvement in education (regardless of your role) can be taxing and stressful. We need to take care of ourselves and each other. Help, encourage and lift each other up. Be willing to ask for (and accept) help when you need it. We are in this together!
• Be kind. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a smile, an encouraging word or a random act of kindness. We are responsible for maintaining a safe and positive culture throughout the district. You will never regret spreading kindness.
Mr. Polansky urged employees to recognize the important role each of them will play in the coming year and how much their efforts are valued and appreciated.
“Education is not just a profession, it is a calling,” Mr. Polansky said. “You have my utmost respect and admiration for the work that you do. You will have innumerable opportunities to have a positive and sustained impact on the children who will walk through our doors next month. Treat them with love. Give them hope. Model empathy and compassion and challenge and support them in their growth as students and human beings. Working together we are going to make this our best year yet in Huntington!”