The Superintendent of Mansfield City Schools and the president of the Mansfield School Employees Association drove home the same point Tuesday morning during staff opening day.
They echoed the district’s rallying cry for 2017-2018 — “Every Student, Every Day” – to hundreds of employees assembled in the Mansfield Senior High auditorium.
“The work of school improvement and student achievement belongs to every one of us – administrators, principals and support staff,” Superintendent Brian Garverick declared. “I am proud to call all of you my colleagues.”
MSEA President Pam Jones, a school counselor, reminded staff that each of them can impact the education of a child. “Student learning is a team effort, no matter what you do in each building,” Jones said. ‘Take time to listen to students. Be flexible in your teaching. Every student is one adult away from being successful.”
Mansfield City Schools is focusing on two key areas in the year ahead:
First, achieving the best climate and culture throughout the district while implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support. Climate refers to the schools’ effects on students — including teaching practices, diversity and the relationships among administrators, teachers, parents and students. Culture refers to the way teachers and other staff members work together and the set of beliefs, values and assumptions they share.
Second, working on teaching Ohio’s Learning Standards more effectively.
Garverick acknowledged that the Ohio Department of Education has been closely monitoring the district’s work toward academic improvement since conducting a week-long academic audit in November 2015. He also acknowledged the potentially severe consequences of not meeting ODE’s requirements.
“But I am absolutely confident that we will continue to show measurable improvement in the year ahead – to the point that ODE will cite Mansfield City Schools as a positive example of urban education success,” Garverick said. “We begin our work this school year with a clear focus on strategies for positive change – strategies that will enable us to shatter the inaccurate and misleading stereotypes of our district.”
Board of Education President Renda Cline had the audience shouting “Tygers!” in response to her repeated question “What are we?” as she described the district as wise, strong and determined. “Teamwork really does make the dream work,” she said.
Martin Linder, the district’s Director of School Improvement, cited the difference between low-lying foothills and mountains to describe the educational challenges facing Mansfield as an urban district. “No matter your role, our goal is the same – student success,” he said. “We don’t have foothills in Mansfield; we have mountains. We must be prepared to climb those mountains.”
Linder said emphasis on Positive Behavior Intervention Supports for students will incorporate expectations already in place in each building, including being respectful, responsible and safe. The goal, he said, is to create the best possible learning environment.
Linder introduced Malabar Intermediate Principal Andrea Moyer and fourth-grade math teacher Sandy Overholt who described Malabar’s No Excuses approach to learning.
Moyer urged each school’s staff to conduct regular team-building activities and learn about childhood trauma.
“Many students come to school with four, five, six or more trauma issues in their lives – divorce, a death in the family and other issues,” she said. “Learn to recognize them.”
Assistant Superintendent Mark Manley, who also serves as personnel director, introduced all new employees at the outset of the session.
Richland Bank provided funding for a continental breakfast before Tuesday’s program, which was the first of three professional development training days for all staff. Friday will be a teacher work day. The first day for students will be Monday.