As a life-long educator, and one who truly values the work done in schools every day, it is hard to find the words to express the appreciation I have for the faculty and staff here at Monty Tech who have risen to the challenge of providing high-quality educational programs amid a worldwide pandemic. I could never have imagined a time when schools would be closed or operating with only 50% of our students in the classrooms on any given day. A time when teachers would be forced to rely solely on technology to deliver instruction, and students would be told to "stay away" from their peers, distancing themsleves socially and physically, would have been unthinkable. Yet here we are.
Thanks to ongoing efforts on behalf of our faculty and staff, I am confident that the health and well-being of every student remains our top priority, and that our facilities are cleaned and santitized regularly, so that our students, if only half at a time, may attend school in-person. School leaders have developed strong working relationships with area health practitioners, and will continue to include these important perspectives in our planning as we move forward.
Student health is critical to academic and vocational achievement, and student health is so much more than physical well-being. Students must not only feel safe and supported in their learning environments, but they must also have outlets to express frustration, dissatisfaction, and even worry. The Monty Tech educational community is a diverse student population, with varied backgrounds and socio-emotional needs. Our outstanding team of professionals has enjoyed the privilege of working with these students while they were right down the hall or in classrooms and shops across the building, but now, as they are in homes spanning a district of 18 cities and towns, these students may feel more disconnected, less engaged, and perhaps even more worried for themselves and their loved ones than ever before. To that end, it is so important that we continue to seek and employ creative measures to reach out to our students to assure them that they remain our top priority.
We know that a Monty Tech education is so much more than a traditional high school experience. Our academic program of studies is balanced by engaging, hands-on, and very practical vocational lessons. So, you may ask, how can we effectively deliver a vocational education remotely? How can all students find success when they are at home, working and learning in very different, perhaps even inequitable, learning environments? This is what drives my work. As we seek answers to these questions and so many more, please be assured that while our faculty and staff recognize that nothing can replace a completely in-person, immersive school experience, there are ways we can continue to provide high-quality instruction and student support services to each and every Monty Tech student. Our teachers continue to seek and attend professional development programs to build capacity in on-line instruction; they are developing new curriculum that we hope will engage students in a remote learning environment. Guidance counselors are reaching out to their students to remind them that they are so much more than a high school student – they are part of a larger Monty Tech “family”.
As we enter the second semester of 2020-2021, we wish all students and families continued good health and peace in this uncertain and trying time. Be well…
Sheila M. Harrity, Ed.D.