By Lisa Capobianco
Faculty and staff members of the Southington school district kicked off the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year with a theme of “many firsts” and “change” on Monday.
Assistant Superintendent Karen Smith, along with board members and other educators, recognized this theme throughout the celebration by welcoming more than 50 new staff members and recognizing the first full-day kindergarten program along with the implementation of the new Smarter Balanced Assessment tests that are aligned with the new Common Core State Standards.
“It is the year of many firsts,” Smith said. “For some this is the first year teaching… [and] it is the first year for many new initiatives.”
Board of Education Chairman Brian Goralski expressed his appreciation for the role that educators play in these new initiatives.
“Year after year, change is a real part of education,” Goralski said. “Change is what prepares our kids for the future.”
This year’s event also featured a video that highlighted a new initiative: Virtual STEM University, a web-based educational resource that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. Southington Education Foundation (SEF) Chair Dawn Miceli, along with faculty members and students, played different roles in the video, explaining how the online educational tool will allow teachers to share and access lesson design plans. Calling the project an evolution, the video emphasized how the Southington will serve as a model for other school districts.
“The STEM University will separate our district, our staff, our leadership team and most of all, the impact of our students from any other district,” Southington School Supt. Dr. Erardi said in the video.
Besides celebrating upcoming changes within the school district, faculty members and staff also honored ten educators who have worked in Southington for 30 years. They also recognized the new teacher of the year, Linda Bass-Reilly from Thalberg Elementary School.
“Collectively, we are on a mission to create a safe, healthy, nurturing, clean, challenging and well-funded educational environment,” Bass-Reilly said. “Our primary goal is to develop self- confident, highly educated citizens, and we can only achieve this goal by working together.”
Erardi also addressed the importance of this partnership.
“What really is important is that we work in partnership to develop intelligent and caring individuals,” he said. “Our challenge this year is to lead with the art of teaching—that’s the reason why we are here.”