As students, parents and staff prepare for the transition back to school, The Sun recently sat down with Mantua Township School District Superintendent Robert Fisicaro to discuss what residents can expect for the 2019-2020 school year.
The district has three major goals this year that it wants to be really intentional about, says Fisicaro. Those are mental health and wellness, emphasize student ownership and learning, and improve district safety.
The district wants to leverage high-quality mental health services and programs this year. Fisicaro thinks there is little doubt about how real the mental health crisis is that has swept across the country, with students experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety and stress.
To combat this trend, the district has implemented a new Schools and Balance Team, a group of counselors, teachers and special services providers that is to assist teachers to help manage students’ emotions, behaviors and to better “navigate the challenges between school and life,” says Fisicaro.
“We think the mental health support is a good layer to build on our recent award as a National District of Character, and mental health and wellness certainly goes hand-in-hand with comprehensive character education,” said Fisicaro.
As part of the second major goal, the district is implementing two new measures of grading systems for its students to better track their progress. These evaluations will be attached to student report cards.
The first measure will evaluate students’ desire to improve. Fisicaro says the district wants both its lower-level and higher-level learners to have a strong desire to improve, no matter what grades they have.
“If that’s what we want for students, then we should develop an accountability measure to support that and provide them with feedback,” said Fisicaro. “Not every student is going to be able to achieve an A in everything, but they can all try.”
The second measure will evaluate students’ consistency of effort. As students travel through the higher level of grades, it’s important for the district to see their leaners to not only have good habits but to consistently develop them as they continue their education.
“It’s a new generation of learners and they deserve new structures, different environments. One of those aspects of that is going to be a student’s ability to measure their own progress, to track their own learning. So we want to start to build that capacity in our kids,” said Fisicaro.
The district’s third major goal this year is to continue to improve upon its schools’ safety. Every point of entry at each school building will be reconfigured, along with its vestibules. The district is also installing panic alarms for school secretaries. Lastly, Fisicaro says the district will continue to have a strong presence of school resource officers at each of the three school buildings.