With the seasons changing and the calendar turning to September, a new school year is upon us. We know this year will feature exceptional student and staff achievements at the Woods Schools.
Mary O’ Neill, the Vice President of Education, spoke with us about her expectations for the 2021-2022 academic calendar.
The first bell ring will come on the heels of some great news. The Woods Schools has received two substantial grants that will help shape the new school year, an award from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and an Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools grant. With this help, the Woods Schools can also grow its science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programming with everything from basic experiments to robotics. The Woods Schools can now acquire additional iPads and laptops, ensuring each student has a device.
With COVID-19 still present, the Woods Schools must put some goals on hold to ensure the virus does not enter their doors.
“In the new school year, we hope to get things back to the way they were before the pandemic,” O’ Neill said. “Unfortunately, we’re going to be specifically focused on COVID protocols, for now, to keep our students’ health and safety first.
“We’ve been quite successful at preventing spread within our schools, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
For the Woods Schools, going back to normal means in-person music, art, and gym classes. A bustling, energetic cafeteria is full of students. Live concerts rock the stage. We share our projects at the science fair and strut down the runway during a fashion show. Students work at their school-based jobs, including creating the yearbook. If the pandemic subsides, these will all return.
Yet, some activities halted by the pandemic will make modified returns. Students will be able to get back some job-related work as the Woods Schools acquired individual vocational bins. In the past, students would work in a group to assemble items in these bins. Now, they can do it individually, helping build life skills that did not get enough attention during the pandemic.
The Woods Schools also begins the year with a great team of educators and staff.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been. We all know each other. We all know each other’s students and departments. We’ve grown a family-like atmosphere,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill explained that the pandemic created an atmosphere where the entire staff pull together for one another, creating a more tight-knit group of teachers. Everyone has had to help out with each other’s departments and the schools’ quick responses to COVID-19.
“Everyone who’s remained on our team during this time has been great,” O’Neill added. “This will make for a great year.”