MASSENA — Massena Central School students don’t return to the classroom until Sept. 5, but some families are already meeting with teachers.
Superintendent Patrick Brady said a pair of teachers, a teacher and a counselor or a teacher and a school psychologist have hit the road this summer to meet with families of students who will be entering kindergarten and seventh grade next month.
“They call the families, they set up the time and they go out and visit them. We focused on two critical transitions — students coming into kindergarten and students coming from sixth grade into seventh grade. Those are two key times to transition,” he said.
The district received a grant from New York State United Teachers, which allowed them to train staff to do family home visits for the first time. They call the families to set up appointments and have an opportunity during the visit to discuss what their child will be experiencing during the transition.
“They’re making those connections early on before the child gets into school. We’re trying to make those transitions comfortable for the student and comfortable for the parent, and building that communication and relationship with the family prior to coming to school,” Mr. Brady said.
He said nearly 30 teachers, counselors and psychologists “stepped up and are taking their time this summer to go out and visit.”
Mr. Brady said the feedback they’ve received from the staff who are involved with the program has been positive.
“I’m proud of the work they’re doing. I think it’s going to have an impact on our students coming into school,” he said. “I don’t think you can make too many connections with families, particularly at transition time. This takes it one step deeper to actually go out to their homes.”
Because the program is grant-funded, Mr. Brady said they’ll have to look at the results and make some decisions going forward about the future of the program.
In another effort to help ease transitions, Jefferson Elementary School is holding a “Day of K” for kindergarten registration on Aug. 22.
“They’re bringing the kindergarten families into the school and having orientation with them,” he said.
Students entering seventh grade at J.W. Leary Junior High School also have a program that helps them transition to their new school. They’re invited to attend an orientation where they’re paired with eighth grade WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) leaders in a series of activities. They also receive their schedules, as well as their lockers and combinations.
“These are all very important,” Mr. Brady said.