Ready to Welcome Shawnee Mission Students

Ready to Welcome Shawnee Mission Students
Shawnee Mission School District

Though the environment is different this year, Shawnee Mission educators are ready to welcome students when they begin school in Remote Learning starting on September 8. (Click here for the calendar outlining the first days back for students).

School communities this week across the district held events to connect with families, provide students materials they will need for learning, and help students get ready.

Multiple schools held virtual back-to-school nights, drive-through pickup events, and found numerous ways to welcome students to the new year.

Elementary Schools

While there is some nervousness about the remote learning environment, Pam Lewis, director of elementary services, said students will get the best from Shawnee Mission teachers who care about their students and want to meet their needs in whatever in whatever model they are learning. Click here to see a video.

“Just know we will work together, do our best as teachers, parents, and as a community to support our students in their learning,” Lewis said. “There are going to be some great days and some bumps in the road. Together we will work through them and know that 2020-2021 is going to be a fantastic year for Shawnee Mission students.”

Bluejacket-Flint was among several schools that held a virtual back-to-school night. Staff engaged families through an interactive slideshow. Through videos, webex meetings, documents,  and other interactive elements, families could meet Principal Tasha Howard and teachers throughout the school learn what to expect in the remote learning environment. Bluejacket-Flint staff call this year an “Edventure.”

“As partners we share the responsibility for our children’s’ success,” Howard said. “We do our very best to carry out our responsibilities.”  

In one of their welcome-back activities, Rhein Benninghoven kindergarten teachers, joined by principal Dr. Brittany Gonser and  Paula Pyle, social worker, visited the homes of every kindergarten student. They presented students with a few school supplies, told students and their family members hello, and took photos.

“It helps it feel more real and gets our students pumped up to start to learn together,” kindergarten teacher Jennifer Greene said. “We want our students to know this is their school family and we are a community.”

Middle and High Schools

Secondary schools have also held events to get students started on the right foot before Remote Learning begins next week. Click here to see a video about the first day from two SMSD secondary educators.

On Thursday, staff members at Indian Woods Middle School were busy passing out textbooks, technology, and yard signs to students in a drive through pick-up line in the front of the school’s circle drive.

Inside, educators were attending trainings on WebEx and Canvas to help set up their virtual classrooms in preparation for the start of school.

McKenzie Lancaster, seventh and eighth grade Spanish teacher and Kelsey Carnahan, seventh grade Social Studies teacher, were creating a virtual video tour of the school to share with students. For the first day of school the students and staff will participate in “Packapalooza” where students rotate through several remote stations and join in icebreakers and scavenger hunts to get to know their classmates and teachers.

Greg Darrington, social studies teacher, will share personal artifacts with his students so they can get to know him. Then he will ask students to think about artifacts they would like to share that can best describe them. 

At the high school level, principals and teachers have also worked to get in touch with students prior to day one.

Shawnee Mission Northwest, for one example, held events to make sure they could reach all families. In some cases, staff visited families at their home, providing them with guides to remote learning and other resources they may need for the school year. They also held a drive-through pickup event. Every student from Shawnee Mission Northwest was presented with an “Everyday Champions” t-shirt, which was handed out with novels, books, and supplemental classroom materials.

“Our goal is to connect with our families and help them to feel comfortable and confident for the first day of classes in remote learning,” Principal Dr. Lisa Gruman said.