Gearing up for another school year

We are busy preparing to welcome students in grades 1–12 back to school on Aug. 30 and welcome our new kindergarten students on Sept. 1.

Families often ask me what they can do to help their children do their very best. Families play a critical role in their child’s academic progress. You can help your child prepare to learn each day.

Help your child get ready in the morning so he or she arrives on time and ready to learn.

Ask your child what he or she learns in school each day.

Set aside time each night to help your child with his or her homework.

Visit the open house at your child’s school before the first day. Your child will come to school confident and eager to succeed.

We are working hard to make every school a great school. That means every classroom has an effective teacher, every school has a strong principal and every staff member shares the same high expectations for all students. How will we make that happen? We have a plan to deliver on this promise and it starts with clear priorities.

My chief priority this school year is to develop a more tightly aligned system of curriculum, instruction and assessment. What students are taught, how they are taught and how they are measured is the foundation of a system of great schools. All three of these elements will be consistently implemented at schools district-wide. That means that no matter which Minneapolis Public School your child attends, you will encounter a predictable and consistent curriculum. That means academic rigor regardless of where you live and where you choose to send your child to school.

To accomplish this, I am going to make sure that teachers have time to plan for their lessons. This is critical. I also want to recognize our very best teachers and hold them up as models for what effective teaching looks like. We have many talented and accomplished educators in our midst.

And that is where family comes in again. I hope you will take some time early this fall, as soon as school starts, to get to know your school’s principal and your child’s teachers. Open lines of communication between families and teachers make for a better education. This is a chance to celebrate your child’s successes and to identify and correct small issues before they become big ones.

With our focus squarely where it should be — on the classroom and learning — and your involvement in your child’s education, I am confident that 2010–2011 will be an exceptional year in the Minneapolis Public Schools.

Bernadeia Johnson is superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools.