Students, Staff Welcome First Day of School

Students, Staff Welcome First Day of School
Posted on 08/23/2018
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Hopewell Junior students arrive at school on the first day.

Lakota Schools welcomed back its 16,500 students in a very unique way this year. Superintendent Matthew Miller encouraged school leaders and staff to focus on building relationships with the students, instead of opening text books, for the first two days of school.


“As educators, we know the importance of building a relationship and trust between teachers and students,” said Miller. “We also received feedback from these two groups, along with parents and even community members, about the importance of creating a sense of community in the school and the classroom.”


Each building planned its own events and the feedback has been very positive. Jason Jackson, the associate principal at the West Freshman campus, said that he and a team of staff members spent time over the summer planning their activities for the first two days of school. “When (the whole staff) got here, they were all in,” said Jackson. “We are in a time when students don’t connect unless they know you’re in it for them. That’s the relationship piece,” he continued. “There is a sense of unity across the building, between the students and the teachers.”


Students at Shawnee Early Childhood School enjoyed exploring the building’s Wonder Lab. Second grader Kareem Hasan was all-in when using the lab, declaring, “This is the best class ever!” Wonder Labs are STEAM2 labs specifically designed for Lakota’s youngest learners. Students are able to explore and create using concepts that apply to engineering, science and technology.


Fifth graders in Laura Brown’s class at Independence Elementary combined strategy, team building and icebreakers as they played the game Jenga. As each team of three removed a piece from the tower, a number written on the game piece corresponded to a get to know me question that Brown read aloud.


Down the hall in Tawnya Hartman’s classroom, third graders listened to the story Where Oliver Fits. “As a class, we brainstormed ways (the students) fit in third grade, (such as) being kind, helping others and being able to cheer others up,” explained Hartman. “Then the students created a big face that resembles themselves. They added in writing how they fit in third grade on the lenses of the sunglasses.”


The district also welcomed two special guests during the first day of school. Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Information, Paolo DeMaria, and State School Board Member Charlotte McGuire, toured several schools while at Lakota, including Endeavor Elementary. “It was evident that Superintendent DeMaria and Mrs. McGuire are passionate about schools, teachers, and most importantly creating and ensuring every student reaches their fullest potential,” said Principal Andrea Blevins. “Superintendent DeMaria asked thoughtful and purposeful questions and really took time to understand what and why we do what we do at Endeavor,” she continued. “As an administrator, I was impressed and proud to have them in our building showing how our Rockets, and the larger Lakota community, are leading the way.”