It wasn’t your typical first day of school at Winterville Charter Academy, however, one thing has remained constant – the excitement and zeal for education.
Winterville kicked off its 2020-21 school year operating in a hybrid instructional model where scholars spend half their week at school and half learning from home. Stacey Ryan, principal at Winterville, shared that her favorite part about being back in the building with students was seeing their shining faces, even if behind a mask, and observing their excitement in returning to school. “When students feel safe and receive heartfelt greetings from their teachers, the enthusiasm they project as they interact with each other is contagious,” she shared.
On the first day of school, students were in the building and ready to rock! “Our arrival and dismissal process went smoothly without any major concerns, and students kept masks on at designated times and were receptive to our social distancing expectations. It was a very successful first day,” said Ryan. “In an effort to make school feel as ‘normal’ as possible for students when kiddos come into the building it's business as usual’. Uniforms are required, engaging teaching will be delivered, and the goal at the end of the day remains the same: growth, proficiency, parental partnership, and safety.”
A positive tidbit that stands out to Ryan from the first day of school was seeing the focus and determination of Winterville teachers throughout the school. “Middle school teachers were teaching face-to-face learning objectives to small groups, while virtual participation streamed in,” she shared. “The process was almost seamless, and I was overwhelmed with pride and respect for our hard-working teaching staff and their equally dedicated scholars.”
When it comes to the vision at Winterville, Ryan explained that it is to expect the best from yourself first, share your strengths with your team, and when you see a need, fill that need. “The environment within the school is positive and proud,” she said. “Providing excellent servant leadership is something that comes with its own rewards.”
A core piece of the education provided at Winterville is National Heritage Academies’ (NHA) Moral Focus curriculum, which strives to supplement and strengthen academic learning by teaching universally recognized virtues that help students develop moral, intellectual, performance, and social character.
Daily teachings, interactive practice, and student/teacher-led modeling ensures Moral Focus virtues are infused in the day-to-day lives of students. “Our interactive curriculum and systematic grading practices ensure that the teaching of our moral virtues remains an instructional priority,” said Ryan.
Being back at school, Ryan feels humbled and honored to be entrusted with the safety and education of their almost 700 scholars. “While the expectations are high, we could not have a more charismatic teaching staff and they make the job possible! I am so excited to be back, sharing the experience of this school year with them all,” reflected Ryan.
Following a successful first day of school, Ryan is joyful and filled with pride upon reflection after seeing how her staff and school community have adapted to this new way of teaching and learning.
“The daily planning, research, and professional development that goes into opening school each year requires so much thought but planning hybrid and virtual learning for the first time, truly does turn up the heat,” she shared. “Effective communication, clear expectations, and consistent supportive measures are requisites in beginning a successful year.”
Watch WNCT Channel 9 tell the story for Winterville’s successful first day of school!