Walton County School District Superintendent’s May Update

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Supt Hughes

The month of May will be bustling in Walton County School District with State Assessment scheduling, Senior activities, awards ceremonies, art shows, music concerts, drama performances, field trips, and Yearbook signings!  We encourage our parents to make sure your students are conscientious about school attendance during these last weeks of school!.

As we prepare for end-of-the-year activities, such as prom and graduation, please know that all schools must develop COVID protocols for special events.  The protocols will be similar to practices we have used all year, i.e., the encouragement of mask-wearing and social distancing. Safety remains our number one priority, and we intend to finish the year strong!

The second week of May is recognized nationally as “Teacher Appreciation Month.” Superintendent Hughes says Walton County School District has been fortunate to “have committed and exceptional educators who put the needs of students in the forefront during the challenging past year.” Reflecting on the dedication of Walton County School District employees, Superintendent Hughes petitioned the businesses in the County to help him celebrate teachers, educational support persons, and staff during the week of May 2-8, 2021.  Many local businesses provided space on their web page, outdoor signage, or gave discounts in some form. “Having our local businesses remain open created a sense of normalcy for students and families,” Superintendent Hughes said.

Although May 26, 2021, officially ends the 2020-21 school year, learning opportunities for students and teachers continue through the summer.  Teachers are currently involved in professional development preparing for the new K-2 English Language Arts (E.L.A.) Florida Benchmarks for Excellence Student Thinking, B.E.S.T. Standards Implementation for the 2021-22 school year. Many of our E.L.A. Teachers in grades K-5 will attend B.E.S.T. training in June.

In addition to the E.L.A. Standards, E.L.A. Teachers in grades K-2 implement Phonics First during their reading block. Phonics First is rooted in Orton-Gillingham’s principles of instruction. Phonics First uses scientifically researched learning strategies to support students’ systemic processes for decoding and encoding. Many of our teachers have been trained and utilize the Sonday System of Intervention. Sonday is an Orton Gillingham reading intervention program that is researched based on a structured literacy approach to help students with reading difficulties. The International Dyslexia Association (I.D.A.) has compiled the research that identifies the characteristics of Sonday as a structured literacy program.

The Walton County School District takes great pride in providing our educators with comprehensive literacy professional development. Many of our E.L.A. and Reading teachers are trained in the use of  L.E.T.R.S. (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling), developed by renowned literacy experts Dr. Louisa Moats and Dr. Carol Tolman. L.E.T.R.S. provides teachers with the research, depth of knowledge, and skills to make a significant improvement in the literacy and language development of every student. We look forward to our District Literacy implementation with the new B.E.S.T Standards during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.

Students will have opportunities for summer enrichment through Summer Bridge and Reading Camps beginning June 14, 2021, and ending July 22, 2021.  Look for detailed information from your child’s school outlining summer cohorts, particular interventions or acceleration programs.  Our Summer Mobile Van will be available throughout the summer to service all areas of the County daily.  Scheduling and times are forthcoming!

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