Apthorpe Updates City Commission On Projects

Aligning curriculum with career readiness, creating a Success Academy to address trauma and establishing a larger summer learning program were the three ideas Bret Apthorpe, superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools, pitched to community leaders inside the Robert H. Jackson Center in March.

Last week, Apthorpe told a different group of business leaders his plans were on schedule.

Apthorpe was an invited guest to the city Strategic Planning Commission on the only day the district canceled school due to inclement weather. But despite all of Jamestown schools and city hall — where meetings for the commission are held — being officially closed, Apthorpe and company still met.

The purpose of the superintendent’s visit was to update the commission, comprised of business leaders throughout the city, on the progress of the three ideas he pitched eight months ago.

“My update was that we are in great shape,” Apthorpe told The Post-Journal afterward.

The summer learning program scheduled to begin at the start of next summer has outlined several partner agencies who are willing to participate. The program will look to transport, provide literacy learning and additional education for more than 600 K-5 students over the summer.

A summer literacy program has been in place for several years, but not to the size of next year’s planned initiative. The summer literacy program that was implemented last summer only impacted 134 students — a stark contrast when compared to the estimated 600 students being targeted for the upcoming summer.

Additionally, the reopening of the former Rogers Elementary School building and the transformation of its facilities into the Success Academy are moving forward – another goal Apthorpe discussed at the March meeting.

Apthorpe previously described the academy as being like a shopping mall, but instead of stores lined on either side of a hallway there will be resources for students to utilize. Social services, mental health providers, counselors, job training, mentors and clergy would be involved in offering help to students who are falling behind in school due to traumatic events. The program would be offered to students in grades 5-12 as an additional pathway.

The school will be opened in limited fashion next fall, but will gradually be run at full capacity once the district has better understanding about how the school will operate. Apthorpe said there are local child services agencies who have already indicated their intent to partner with the school regarding the Success Academy. The school can house 200 students at a time.

The third goal that Apthorpe pitched last spring was to align the district’s curriculum to accommodate career readiness, specifically for the manufacturing and health care industries. Apthorpe said the district administration currently has a committee tasked with updating the curriculum to respond to this alignment. The group assigned to aligning curriculum will have more information to report in March.

Apthorpe said the response from the commission was only supportive.

“They wanted to know what they could do to promote these efforts,” he said.

The superintendent praised the response during the meeting citing change as often being a trigger for fear.

“Their support for these changes are invaluable,” he said.