by Cole Arndorfer, Grain Valley News Intern
When many people think of school and summertime, the two don’t necessarily mix. As Dr. Glenna Bult, Grain Valley Schools Director of Curriculum and Instruction, says, it is the district administration’s busiest time.
“At the district level, your busiest, craziest time is the summer,” Bult explains. “That is when we are working our tail-ends off.”
Director of Operations, Gary Goetz adds with a bit of a chuckle, “In three weeks my favorite question will be ‘what’d you do all summer?’ Well, we were here getting ready for you all.”
There is so much that goes on over the summer within the schools that nobody really thinks about because they don’t ever see any of it. Things as simple as wiping down each and every desk, to much larger items such as complete overhauls of kitchens and bathrooms.
Director of Maintenance, Josh Elefson, as well as Goetz described their work as having two seasons; the first being the school year maintenance and the second being the summer prep.
Elefson explains that each building gets a deep cleaning every summer which consists of each desk being cleaned, along with carpet cleaning or replacement, and new paint. Each principal also receives a summer request list around March where they are able to mark down the needs and wants for each building for that summer.
Goetz says that with nine buildings over four campuses, it can be a tall order trying to get everything done in the relatively short amount of time summer provides.
“We look at their lists and determine what’s a wish and what’s a need.”
After they determine that, they take care of the needs first and if they are able, they can take care of as many of the wants as they can.
“A lot of that is budget driven,” Goetz says. “Costs of everything is going up so that limits how much we are able to do each year.”
The world of technology is a rapidly changing environment and especially in the education field. Director of Technology JaMere Waddy explains that he does everything he can to keep schools, classrooms, and kids up to date.
“One of the things I am proud of is our four-year refresh cycle for students and staff,” Waddy said. The four-year refresh cycle means that the longest any student or staff member in the district will have a Chromebook or computer will be four years.
“This allows us to stay current and it allows us to be sure that the technology is useable.”
After that, Waddy says the student or staff member will receive a new piece of technology. His department will look at their old one and determine if they can use it somewhere else, in some cases they may find that they will be able to get another few years of use by sending it to one of the elementary schools in the district.
Waddy says that it is very important to stay creative with technology in the classrooms. Something they have done is using Apple TVs in order to let teachers move around their classrooms freely instead of being stuck in one spot while projecting something to the class. He says they like to try out new things with focus groups of teachers in the district who welcome the technology and embrace it in their classrooms.
The Technology Department was also able to replace a whole computer lab at North Middle School this summer, another project Waddy is very proud to have been able to do.
One of the critical tasks tackled over the summer is curriculum, which is Dr. Bult’s job. When building a curriculum, the Missouri Learning Standards are the legal guide, but after those standards are met, there is a bit of flexibility.
Bult said that it usually takes about three or four years to build a full curriculum so there isn’t always a whole lot of change from year-to-year; rather, it comes in waves.
“I pull groups of teachers, I believe that teachers need to be heavily involved in writing the curriculum,” Bult said. Within those groups, they take the standards from the state and apply it to the district by writing essential questions, learning targets, and essential vocabulary.”
Bult mentioned that she has a particularly busy week this week as she is meeting with different groups of teachers for various reasons almost all day each day. She says what gets her through the busy times is teamwork and the fact that everyone is working toward the same goal.
Everyone at the table nodded in agreement when Bult said that the first step in preparing for a new year is expecting that not everything will go perfect. She said that somewhere along the line something will go wrong and they will have to roll with it and adjust what they are doing.
While not everything may be able to go perfectly, each of them are excited for a new school year and they are ready for what’s in store.