The new school year for Gary students began on Thursday, August 8. Prior to the start of school administrators and staff attended an all-day workshop at the West Side Leadership Academy.
Other activities throughout the day included professional development training for teachers, administrators and support staff.
Noted educator and motivational speaker Dr. Steve Perry was the featured speaker for the event. Perry’s presentation was motivational with a child-centered focuse on building relationships with students, parents and the community.
“We really wanted today’s experience to get everyone fired up for the school year,” said Nakia Douglas, Deputy Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer. “We worked very hard to get to this point, and now it is time for us to open our doors and show students and parents that we are ready to deliver and expect excellence.”
This marks the second year of state control of the Gary schools, something that the community appears to be adjusting to.
The emergency management team is head by former Griffith Public Schools Superintendent Peter Morikis who, since assuming the position, has been involved in community outreach. Addressing all staff members, Morikis said, “We really need to focus on our customer service and our kindness because they are together. The children and their parents are the customers, and our job is to provide the children with the best possible learning environment that we can,” said Morikis.
Two middle schools will be open with two different focuses – STEM and performing arts. “Last year at Gary middle school we had over 1,000 students. This year we must build for the kids at Bailly and Gary Middle School. The focus at Bailly will be STEM, while Gary Middle will be our school for performing arts,” said Morikis.
Other changes involved the placement of new principals at ten of the schools. The changes will do several things such as retirement or different positions in the school system.
“We spent the summer on staff development for teachers. And staff remediation where they were trained on instructional methods,” said Morikis. “We also brought in our administrators to do some professional development work.”
One change that is not happening any time soon is the removal of the Roosevelt students from the Gary Area Career Center. Nor has there been any discussion regarding transferring the students to West Side.
School official are still assessing the Roosevelt situation and haven’t made any decision beyond the students remaining at the Career Center.