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Students Can Still Acquire Needed Skills

Ever since the first humans walked this earth, it has been the family and community that have been at the core of educating children. In the beginning, education surely included the knowledge and skills required to survive and enjoy a certain quality of life. Today, while we do not have to teach our children the ways of a woolly mammoth, we find ourselves once again having our homes being the primary learning centers for our children due to the coronavirus. A certain body of knowledge and skills were required to live in the beginning and the same is true today.

I make this analogy as I have been inundated with concerns from parents about whether their children will be able to advance a grade level, or what will happen to their grade point averages during the school closure. I understand these concerns, but it is not what I am most worried about, or what you need to be worried about, at this time. I want to reassure you that the purpose of a K-12 education is for students to acquire the minimal amount of knowledge and skills that are required for them to be successful in either college or career. It is our duty as a community to ensure this happens.

The structured and organized manner by which students learn in modern society is school. Over the next few weeks or months, school is now in your homes. Our teachers are making their connections with students, but they are reaching your homes in different ways – digitally through on-line learning, by emails, texts, the Remind app or through phone calls. They are not “grading” for averages. They are not grading for “pass” or “fail.” Rather, they are providing feedback on how your child is doing on acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge.

We know parents have their home schools in place all around our city for our 4,800 JPS students. Please ensure your children have a healthy, daily routine that includes some reading, writing, science and math. Do not worry if it is “the right curriculum.” Following recipes is a good way to learn math. Planting a garden is excellent for learning science. You are their best teacher when providing these real-life experiences to children. There is an ancient saying about learning “To know, but not to do, is not to know.” Let them paint, draw, practice an instrument, read, and email distant relatives. Create this routine collaboratively with your child. If video games are important to them, include it in the routine, but do not let them over do it.

Who would have ever thought that in March 2020 home schools would be where we find all our Jamestown students? If we structure routines for our children that are steeped in the real world, our children will advance in their acquisition of the knowledge and skills required to be successful in college or career. Our community is rising to this challenge and I know I will be able to give everyone an A+ for effort after this community crisis is behind us… We are so very thankful for your efforts to continue your child’s learning during the school closings.

If you have any questions about your child’s learning at home during this time, please email curriculum@jpsny.org or visit the link www.jpsny.org/learningathome. If you have questions about the technology your child is using to learn, please email techsupport@jpsny.org or call 716-483-4242. If you have a general question that you need answered, please email questions@jpsny.org. Jamestown Public Schools is here to help our families and students through this unprecedented time. Please do not hesitate to contact us for help.

Dr. Bret Apthorpe is superintendent of the Jamestown Public Schools District.

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