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Superintendent’s outlook on new school year

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By Sierra Pizzola

Greenville Central School District

Greenville’s buses are ready to roll as another school year gets underway. File photo/Courtesy of Greenville Central School District

Another school year has commenced for many Greene County students this week, including the Greenville Spartans.

Last week, Superintendent Michael Bennett said he’s looking forward to the upcoming year as “it’s another opportunity to continue to make connections with students, faculty and staff.”

Safety is a top priority for Bennett, he said.

“We continue to take inventory of safety procedures and processes to ensure our schools remain a safe place for students to learn. Unfortunately, this continues to be an area of high concern not only here at Greenville, but across the state and our nation.”

Over the summer, the district installed a blue-light system that will be imperative to on-campus communications in an emergency. Due to the number of staff members that travel between buildings, the number of classes that are taught outside, and the overall geography of the campus, the district sought to install technology capable of alerting individuals who are outdoors during an emergency.

With this new system, every campus entrance and exterior door now features a blue light that will prominently flash if a lockdown is initiated. The flashing blue light will notify individuals who are outside the buildings to leave campus or move to a designated alternative location.

Changes are also taking place in the library after a productive Community Engagement Session was held at Greenville back in May. Various stakeholders gathered to provide feedback on the utilization and monitoring of library spaces, as well as parental oversight of their children’s book selections. This year, in addition to the library media specialist in the Middle and High School Library, there will also be a dedicated aide/monitor stationed in the library full-time to assist with student supervision and checking out books.

Additionally, the district will now email and mail home physical copies of an “Opt Out Form for Young Adult Books” to parents of students in grades 6-12.

“Young Adult (YA) books are a genre of literature that addresses common experiences and issues that concern children as they go through their teenage years. YA literature focuses on teen-relevant content, which motivates students to read,” Bennett said. “These books tend to deliver strong messages about the negative consequences of engaging in harmful or selfish behaviors and often relate to the excitement and challenges of adolescence. Topics could include but are not limited to, social issues, death, religion, politics, identity, race, sexuality and economics. Some, but not all, YA books may have mature language and content.”

Previously, these opt-out forms were handed out during English classes at the beginning of each school year. In an effort to better communicate with parents and families, the opt-out form was mailed home in the annual back-to-school packets, emailed home this week, and is available on the district website year-round. The district is also working to round out the literary choices available in the library to include a broader range of texts. 

Lastly, Greenville has implemented a new student information system, known to parents as “ParentVue” and students as “StudentVue” in an effort to streamline administrative processes and improve user experiences.

Effective communication and collaboration between educators, parents and students are pivotal to educational success. Teachers can send updates, homework assignments, and other information directly to parents through ParentVUE.

“This system will allow parents to be better partners in their child’s academic journey,” Bennett said.

Bennett is looking forward to a new school year.

“My goal is to encourage and give our teachers the tools necessary to educate the whole child,” he said. “As a school community, it’s important to recognize that not every student will take the same path in life. Sure, some will take the ‘traditional’ route and head off to college, but others will join the workforce before the summer is over, and some will enlist in our armed forces. Whatever we can do here at Greenville to recognize individual student talents and help propel them toward the future of their choice, is my goal for this year.”

Sierra Pizzola is a guest writer for the Greenville Pioneer. She works for the Greenville Central School District.

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