By REBECCA HAZEN
Dade County Schools start the 2022-2023 school year Friday, Aug. 5. Principals Charity Barton, Tracy Blevins, Michelle Beeler, and Brent Cooper gathered together to discuss the upcoming year.
All the principals are looking forward to what will hopefully be a normal year with no COVID-19 quarantines.
“At the end of the year, I was able to pull some things back in, like the eighth grade dance, that we were not able to do because of COVID. I am looking forward to being able to do the traditional things,” Dade Middle School Principal Beeler said.
“We have already met with our Parent Teacher Organization, and we’ve got our calendar. It’s exciting to see all the things go back on the calendar. I am looking forward to getting to do all of them,” Davis Elementary School Principal Barton said. “I am also really excited about our Rock Building coming back.”
Brent Cooper is Dade County High School’s new principal. He says he is ready to get the year started.
“I am a first-year principal. I am just looking forward to kids being in the building. I have heard other administrators say that, but I’ve never felt that before. I am ready to start off on the right foot,” Cooper said.
Both Barton and Blevins are looking forward to further implementing resources for their students, called WIN Time (What I Need) at Davis Elementary, and ELT (Extended Learning Time) at Dade Elementary.
Beeler noted that she is looking forward to DMS teachers being able to focus on just one subject this year instead of having to teach multiple subjects in the past.
In addition, the Middle School received a donation from a community member to get another electric vehicle kit, part of Green Power USA Foundation. There will be a seventh grade class this year that will design and race the car.
Cooper is excited about the High School implementing PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) Rewards, which is already being used in the other three schools.
“For the most part, our students are making the right decisions, but we’re focused on the ones that are making the wrong decisions. I want to correct that by focusing on the ones that are making the right decisions. I am looking forward to meeting with the team and figuring out what kinds of rewards we can offer for high schoolers,” Cooper said.
There are many different resources that both parents and students have access to, depending on what school they are in.
“We have a parent mentor. She can connect parents with any type of resources that they may need. Our counselors are also very good at connecting our students with mental health officials. We also have agencies that come into the school to help students within the school day,” Dade Elementary Principal Blevins said.
In addition, Bridge Health, Georgia Hope, and school Social Worker Kristin Barrett also provide a lot of help and resources.
Beeler stressed the importance of parents accessing the Parent Portal, noting that live data is available about their child’s schooling.
The principals also remind parents that free lunches are no longer available this school year, and parents will have to fill out an application for free and reduced lunching.
The principals each gave advice to students coming back to school.
“Get involved. The more involved you are, the more enjoyment you are going to get out of school,” Beeler said.
“Whatever a kid puts into school, the more they will get out of it,” Cooper said.
“At the elementary level, we don’t have extra curriculars like that so we would tell them to just remember to be a good friend and to be kind, and to have a positive attitude. I think sometimes with COVID, and the students being at home, we forgot how to be with each other,” Blevins said.
“For our returning students, I would tell them to be a friend to those new students coming in. To have a friend you have to be a friend,” Barton said.