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Conn. Superintendents Focused on Improving Students Learning This School Year

Wednesday marked an opportunity for Connecticut's school leaders to gear up for the year ahead.

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It's that time of year when students and staff get ready for school. 

In recent weeks, communities have come together to donate backpacks and school supplies. Barbershops have even opened their doors, offering free haircuts.

Wednesday marked an opportunity for Connecticut's school leaders to gear up for the year ahead.

The Back-to-School Meeting is an annual traditional with school leaders across the state. Many superintendents say it's a school year they are looking forward to even as they continue to navigate learning in a pandemic.

The focus now is bringing joy back into the classroom.

"I think there's a different feel this year. I think we're finally crossing over the covid line," said Newington Superintendent Maureen Brummett.

With schools following much of the same covid guidance as last year, Brumett says she's focused on improving students' learning.

"Eight percent of my kids are non-English speakers, so that's my theme this year. How do we reach all learners and how do we close the achievement gap," said Brummett.

Brummett's approach went hand-in-hand with the theme of Wednesday's meeting, which was "The sky is not the limit." The State Department of Education invited a fitting keynote speaker to deliver this message.

"As we think about, how do we get the kids back in line, back on trajectory to participate in this nation, where jobs are going to require expertise in math and science, we need to make sure that that is in place," said Bernard Harris, veteran NASA astronaut and CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative.

Harris suggests encouraging interest in STEM at an early age especially in the middle school. 

Another superintendent of Durham and Middlefield looks forward to a school year that will start to shift away from covid. 

"We had to keep our eye more on the health concerns first and we lost a bit of our ability to focus on our learners and make school fun again. Because I believe school is fun, I believe learning is fun when done properly," said Doug Schuch, Superintendent of District 13 (Durham/Middlefield)

While Newington is looking to fill more para-educator and tutor positions, superintendents of Newington and District 13 say they haven't been greatly affected by staffing shortages.

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