The reality is that the final day of school before a holiday is a time for teachers to engage students in educational activities that may be for social development more than academic because they are at the end of a course of study and excited for the holiday or vacation that is to come. Therefore, having monday and tuesday before Christmas for these activities gave us better academic focus throughout the week before.
I had the privilege of joining in pre Christmas activities at each of the elementary schools this week. Students were focusing on building their reading and thinking skills by incorporating popular Christmas themes. The book "Polar Express" has become a very popular book among our students and I had opportunity to see that the Conductor from the book was able to pay a visit to the primary-level students to encourage their reading interest. (See picture of some of the 2nd grade students having their Polar Express ticket punched by the conductor) Many thanks to the other members of the Central Office staff who made it possible for Mrs. Santa Clause, Rudolph, Olaf (from the movie Frozen), and a variety of Santa's elves visit the classrooms as well.
There is a final note on this issue of holiday time. Mecklenburg's students will return to class on Thursday, January 7th. They still get a full two weeks of holiday. The teachers return on Wednesday, January 6th for a workday that will prepare them for the 2nd semester. This should work out very well for all!
In other news, I am excited to share that Mecklenburg County's School Board is very anxious to get started on their task to provide leadership to the system. You may be aware that five of the nine members are taking their seat for the first time in January, and one other is a newly elected official having filled the seat for his district for just a few months previous to November elections. They have determined to have their organizational meeting on Monday, January 4th, so that these duties will be taken care of at the regular January meeting and they can get right to work. The Board is also having a special training session on the evening of January 7th and during the day on January 8th to become thoroughly familiar with their responsibilities and with the programs that are in place for our schools. I congratulate the Board on being so proactive with their duties and am very pleased for the opportunity to work with a group that is this responsible and engaged.
Finally, I'd like to take this time to wish to everyone a very merry Christmas and most prosperous New Year as we move into 2016. I extend these greetings particularly to all the staff of Mecklenburg County Schools. I've now had the opportunity to visit with staff in all of the schools and at Central Office. I've discovered that we have wonderful and hard-working persons working with our students and they all seem most anxious for a great year ahead. I'm certainly looking forward to working with such a team!