“We want to make more positive connections between students and teachers but also between parents and teachers,” said Stephanie Flickinger, Reede Gray Elementary School principal.

The 2014-15 school year for students in the Redwood Area School District (RASD) officially gets under way a little after 8 a.m. today. When those students walk through the doors of Reede Gray Elementary School, RVMS and RVHS, they are going to begin a new year of having their minds opened to new thoughts and ideas. After all, that is what education is all about as it prepares students for the world waiting for them. As the new year begins, there have been some changes implemented in an effort to better address the needs of the families being served at RASD. One of the major focuses of the new school year is going to be on family engagement as the schools strive to get parents more involved in what is going on in school. “We want to make more positive connections between students and teachers but also between parents and teachers,” said Stephanie Flickinger, Reede Gray Elementary School principal. “We want to see the parents here at the school even more.” Events are being planned throughout the school year that encourage parents to spend more time with their children in their learning environment and to help them see how they can help their kids away from school. 

According to Flick-inger, a program called Cardinal Connection is going to implement ways for families to be engaged, through academic and non-academic activities. The first of these events is being held Sept. 9-11 when families are being given the chance to come to the school and meet with their child(ren)’s homeroom and math teachers. Flickinger said this is a chance for parents to see what kinds of things students are going to be doing. “We want to help parents understand what is being taught and how it is being taught, so they can help their child at home,” said Flickinger. While there are special events taking place during the year when parents are going to be invited in, the idea is to help them be engaged in all aspects of their child’s education. According to Rick Jorgenson, the Grades 5-12 principal, this year’s conferences are going to be different at the high school level, as those attending are going to be given the chance to do more than just sit down and talk with teachers. “The use of Skyward has allowed parents to find out more about grades,” said Jorgen-son, adding the conference is still going to be a time for parents to have that face-to-face interaction, but it is going to offer more. That more might include sessions on different issues students are facing in an effort to help parents understand the warning signs and to help them learn how they can help their kids. In addition to en-hancing family engagement, there are some other changes being implemented in the local district. Flickinger said a new reading and language arts curriculum is being used for students in Grades 2-4 which is going to help students take their reading skills and learn how to use them to read to learn. Jorgenson said a big change at the high school is the earlier start time. Classes for RVHS students are now going to begin at 8:20 a.m. For students at the middle school level, one of the most significant changes is the addition of the Ramp Up to Readiness program, which is going to help students understand the purpose of why they are in school – to get ready for the next stage of their life. Whether that means going to a two- or four-year college program or initiating some other life plan, the idea is to help students understand their options and to be ready for that next step when it happens. “We want to help our students become college and career ready,” said Jorgenson. Another change at the high school level is the scheduling change with students taking more courses during the entire year. Jorgenson said the morning classes are going to still be made up of the 80-minute blocks, but the afternoon schedule is going to have more classes that are going to be taken all year. More focus at Redwood Valley is also going to be offered for those who need remedial help, said Jorgen-son, adding for some students that one-to-one help can really make a difference in their progress. Parents are reminded much of the information they need for the school year is going to be online, and all are encouraged to keep up to date at www.redwoodareaschools.com.