By Elizabeth J. Lolli, Ph.D., Superintendent
Last year was challenging for all, and as many districts begin 2021 virtually, the challenges of the pandemic continue. Schools in Dayton — and across the nation — have adapted over and over again to changing circumstances. But despite the challenges of virtual and hybrid instruction, providing technology and internet access to families and delivering meals to homes each day, the Dayton Public School District continues to make key progress in all areas that will improve and enrich the educational experience for students.
Below are six examples of how DPS continues to change for the better.
Student Resiliency Coordinators
In the fall, the district implemented a Student Resiliency Coordinator (SRC) initiative in all 26 schools. This initiative is an innovative approach to providing students with behavioral/mental health resources that are specifically tailored to their needs. The district partnered with Dayton Children’s Hospital to provide coordinators in each building. By partnering with one organization to serve the entire district — rather than multiple agencies partnering with specific schools — there is a new level of professionalism, accountability, and coordination when it comes to providing for the behavioral/mental health needs of students.
The major role of Student Resiliency Coordinators is to coordinate the counseling services students need based on their specific circumstances. If it is determined that a student needs some form of counseling, the Student Resiliency Coordinator will hold a meeting with the student, principal, teachers and parents. In this meeting, the group will determine the best course of action for the student. Due to the partnership with Dayton Children’s, the coordinator will have knowledge of and access to a variety of counseling organizations to find the right services for that specific student. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach to counseling.
Coordinators are responsible for ensuring goals and metrics are set for each student, and that progress is made toward meeting those goals. The SRCs also counsel and check in on students regularly. They become a trusted support for the student. Although school is virtual at this time, coordinators have found ways to continue to work with their students and to continue to make progress.
Save the Music Grants
This school year, five additional elementary schools received “Intro to Music” grants from the Save The Music Foundation, bringing the total number of schools up to thirteen. The first eight schools were awarded grants during the 2019-2020 school year. At this time, the Dayton Public Schools have received more of these grants than any other district in the country.
Each “Intro to Music” grant includes $22,000-worth of Orff instruments and educational materials to allow music teachers to implement Orff-Schulwerk methodology into their classrooms.
Orff-Schulwerk is an approach to music education that involves movement, singing and playing instruments. Instruments often include xylophones, glockenspiels and metallophones. Research shows that this approach to music education not only makes music engaging and fun for students, but also increases academic achievement, improves attendance and helps develop life skills they will use long after they leave the classroom.
These grants have furthered the district’s efforts to revive music education. In 2017, DPS reinstituted its band program after a ten-year lapse, and in 2019 Yamaha Corporation of America donated $100,000-worth of instruments for middle and high school band programs.
Next year, the final two DPS elementary schools are expected to receive Intro to Music grants.
Bing Davis Art Museums
In 2019, DPS partnered with the highly-celebrated local artist Bing Davis to re-implement school-based art museums and bring pieces from his Skyscrapers project into schools.
Davis’ Skyscrapers project celebrates African-Americans who have made a difference in their field and who serve as role models for children in Dayton and around the country. Bringing this artwork into schools will allow DPS students to appreciate the art and learn about local African American leaders who have had a significant impact on their community.
Six pieces from the Skyscrapers project have been selected for five schools during the past year. An additional set of artwork is now being chosen by Davis, for the next five schools in 2021. Roosevelt’s art museum is revitalized and complete, and Edison’s “New Visions” Museum will be open when students return.
Davis selects each piece of art and the DPS carpentry shop builds display cases or plexiglass coverings. Cleveland, Westwood, Wogaman, Belmont and Thurgood were the first buildings to receive the new artwork. Davis is currently selecting the artwork for Kemp, Fairview, Edwin Joel Brown, Wright Brothers and Dunbar.
Meadowdale High School-Career Technical Center
In February 2020, DPS announced that Meadowdale High School would become the district’s second Career Technical Center. Immediately, work began to transform the once traditional high school into a fully equipped Career Technical Center.
Meadowdale is now home to the district’s Business, Medical Office, Engineering, Biomedical Science, Teacher Academy, Design and Imaging, Exercise Science, Pre-Nursing and Phlebotomy CTE programs.
In the fall, CTE students returned to Meadowdale for in-person labs.
Mound Street Academy
In April 2020, DPS partnered with Mound Street Academy to continue its program and to better serve DPS students who need the services Mound Street provides.
Mound Street is in place to help those students who are at risk of dropping out, or who have dropped out, to earn their high school diplomas. This will provide DPS students, and students in the Dayton community who are on the verge of dropping out, with another way to earn their diplomas.
The transition was smooth and Mound Street now continues to serve students under the DPS umbrella.
School-Based Health Center
In February 2020 — just before the pandemic began impacting Ohio — the district’s first School-Based Health Center opened at Roosevelt Elementary.
The 5,300-square-foot facility provides medical, dental, vision and behavioral health services to students, staff, DPS families and surrounding community members of all ages regardless of insurance or ability to pay.
Research indicates that school-based health centers improve student academic performance and attendance, and even increase graduation rates. This is because when students have the health services they need, they are more likely to be healthy and attend school regularly.
Services continue to be provided even while DPS students are learning virtually from home. Visit fiverivershealthcenters.org for hours and a complete list of services.
These are just a few examples of the many ways the district continues to change for the better and strives for excellence in all areas. Student achievement remains a top priority, even while dealing with the effects of the pandemic. For more information about district initiatives, please visit DaytonPublic.com.
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