Soon we will be starting the 2019-2020 school year, and I wanted to use this first Superintendent’s Corner to provide a short overview of the great things that lie ahead this year.

Summer brings with it a break in school for many, and I hope that students and their families, as well as our teachers and staff, had the chance to enjoy a little time off and spend that time with friends and loved ones. Though school was out of session, many faculty, staff and students have been busy across the district.

You will notice some major changes on our campuses as district leadership, facilities employees, and state and local law enforcement have worked to use nationally recognized best practices for keeping all schools safe and secure for our children. In addition to the changes in campus appearances, there may also be changes to procedures for entering your child’s campus and front office. Each campus is unique, and high schools have some additional safeguards in place given the amount of traffic that enters and leaves in the course of the school day. While we know change can be challenging at times, we nonetheless must ensure that we are proactive in following the most current school safety recommendations.

Over the summer, we also had hundreds of teachers and administrators participating in school, district, state, and national-level professional development to ensure that Highlands County students are benefiting from the best possible instructional practices. Our teams are eager to bring back all they have learned to their classrooms and campuses, and are already meeting to plan for the soon-to-begin year.

Not to be outdone by the adults, our students themselves have been on the go preparing for the start of school. Sports teams have done summer conditioning, students participated in academic activities, and student leadership groups have worked with faculty to prepare campuses for the arrival and welcome back of teachers. Our students consistently amaze us with their drive to build their skills and leadership capacity and to achieve excellence in the classroom, in clubs and athletics, and the community. How blessed we are to be a part of their lives!

With the release of school grades over the summer, we saw the needle moving in the right direction here in the district. This positive course we are traveling is the result of the hard work of students, families, faculty and staff. Students benefit from the strong partnerships we have with families and other stakeholders in our community, and as an educator, parent and grandparent, I am genuinely appreciative.

It was just a few short months ago that the Class of 2019 crossed the stage. Now, the Class of 2020 is poised for the last chapter of their educational time with us. While this year’s graduating class focuses on a successful senior year and post-secondary goals, the Class of 2033 enters kindergarten, looking to a future world that we can only imagine. Our work is to ensure that all students, both now and in the future, are prepared with the academic, social and leadership skills that will help them be successful in whatever path they choose to follow after high school.

With communication being a primary focus of our District Strategic Plan, I look forward to updating the community as we make strides toward our mission of Transforming Today’s Learners into Tomorrow’s Leaders. Please look for my monthly Superintendent’s Updates on Facebook as well as my monthly Superintendent’s Corner published here in the Highlands News Sun.

Thank you, and I wish you all a wonderful start to the 2019-2020 school year.

Dr. Brenda Longshore is superintendent of schools for The School Board of Highlands County.

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