Interim Alexandria colleges superintendent particulars strategy to psychological wellness, safety

Interim Alexandria superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt mentioned town’s will concentrate on social-emotional studying in the course of the subsequent faculty yr.

On a tenting journey as a toddler, Melanie Kay-Wyatt got here throughout one other camper who wanted help in play areas.

She stopped and labored to assist the woman, and was struck when the woman’s mother and father approached her, thanking Kay-Wyatt for partaking with and together with their daughter. The response she acquired that day partly motivated her to pursue a job in particular schooling, spearheading a 26-year profession that most not too long ago gave her the chance to turn out to be the interim superintendent of Alexandria Metropolis Public Colleges in Virginia.

The college board appointed Kay-Wyatt as interim superintendent final week. She’s going to take over for Gregory Hutchings, who introduced his resignation in June, on Sept. 1. Kay-Wyatt has served as an elementary, center and highschool particular schooling instructor and most not too long ago labored as the college system’s chief of human sources.

Kay-Wyatt mentioned she’s pushed by the possibility to affect college students’ lives day by day.

“As a 26-year veteran of schooling, once you go to the grocery retailer or once you’re simply strolling down the road and also you run right into a former scholar who gives an replace on one thing that they’re doing, or they’re sharing a household reminiscence or a reminiscence that they’ve with you once you have been their administrator, of their class, that’s what retains the fervour going,” Kay-Wyatt mentioned.

Coming into the brand new faculty yr, Kay-Wyatt mentioned, town is specializing in providing half-hour of social-emotional studying classes day by day. She mentioned the teachings will look totally different throughout grade ranges and for every scholar. Issues like group circles might be used to bolster optimistic habits interventions and helps, in response to a letter despatched to the college group.

“It’s actually essential to first meet the socio-emotional wants of our college students, as a result of with out ensuring they’re supported in that method, it’s going to be very arduous for them to entry the tutorial studying,” Kay-Wyatt mentioned.

With regard to the coronavirus pandemic, Kay-Wyatt mentioned metropolis employees has a COVID-19 vaccine requirement that features a medical or non secular exemption. There’s no scholar requirement, however Kay-Wyatt mentioned town encourages “these college students and households additionally to think about changing into vaccinated at the moment as we open colleges.”

College officers will work with well being companions, she mentioned, to make data-based choices about mitigation measures. Nevertheless, she mentioned, “As a group, we actually simply wish to open wholesome colleges.”

The college system of about 15,000 college students additionally detailed new safety enhancements in place for the upcoming faculty yr earlier this week. Center and excessive schoolers might be required to hold scholar IDs, and college useful resource officers might be current at Alexandria Metropolis Excessive College, the Minnie Howard Campus of ACHS, Frances C. Hammond Center College and George Washington Center College.

Dad and mom pressured to deliver the useful resource officer program again to town. The college system has had issues with dozens of fights and weapons, on and off campus, together with the stabbing demise of a scholar on the Bradlee Buying Heart throughout a brawl in Might.

A working group has been established to type a suggestion about the way forward for police in metropolis colleges.

“Our senior management staff has been planning all yr,” Kay-Wyatt mentioned. “It wasn’t a summer season effort, it’s been ongoing and can proceed to be an ongoing effort to make it possible for we’re doing every part we will to help and shield our colleges.”

As of this week, Kay-Wyatt mentioned, town has about 50 full-time instructing vacancies, however has made provides to some candidates too. She mentioned it’s arduous to match the information to final yr, the primary fully in-person faculty yr for the reason that pandemic began.

The college system additionally has a brand new web site and a brand new program referred to as ParentSquare, a mass communication system that sends out data in a number of languages.

The primary day of faculty in Alexandria is Aug. 22.

Kay-Wyatt is one in all a number of first-year superintendents within the D.C. area. Michelle Reid in Fairfax County and Cheryl Dyson in Frederick County, Maryland, are additionally getting into their first years.

WTOP’s Colleen Kelleher and Nick Iannelli contributed to this report.


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