On Monday evening, the Miami Trace Local School District released part one of a four-part 2023 State of the District address online.
According to superintendent Kim Pittser, the purpose of the address is to share the current state of the school district, the progress being made on the strategic plan, and the exciting things that lie ahead.
Pittser began the segment with a statement.
“It would be an understatement to say that the past two school years have been among the most challenging. Many of our students and their families have been affected by post-pandemic circumstances. In reality, students are affected daily by situations even beyond the recent pandemic. Our schools play an important role in promoting the health and wellness of all students. In the fall of 2021, we began evaluating District Health and Wellness components, analyzing students, staff, and parents survey results, along with completing our needs assessment, allowing us to prioritize and implement a health and wellness plan. Ultimately, healthy students are better learners and learning impacts achievement.”
The first segment of the address featured important information about the district’s health and wellness initiatives.
Jim Hatert, health and physical education teacher at Miami Trace Middle and High school, and Sarah Kirkpatrick, kindergarten teacher at Miami Trace Elementary, represented the district wellness committee. The committee is comprised of district administrators, teachers, food service personnel, board members, parents, and representatives from Fayette County Public Health and Adena Health Systems.
The wellness committee has a focus and goal for each student to be healthy, safe, supported, challenged and engaged. Their efforts are concentrated in the aspects of mental health, social emotional health, and physical health. The district has expanded its mental health network by partnering with the Southern Ohio ESC, Eastway, Integrated Services for Behavioral Health, Pickaway Area Recovery Services, and Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center. These five agencies come together in the district to meet students where they are, listen to what they’re going through, and help them move forward in a healthy way.
Kirkpatrick spoke more about the steps being taken within the district.
“In our elementary school, we promote social emotional learning. We encourage appropriate behavior using the positive behavior interventions and support framework, otherwise known as PBIS. In addition, students learn about self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making skills several times a month during their social-emotional learning classes. At the secondary level, both Miami Trace middle school and high school devote specific times which are dedicated to character education. The middle school uses Panther Circle Time, where they emphasize important traits including perseverance, responsibility, and self-discipline. The high school uses Panther Periods, where important components of planning for graduation and careers are provided to students,” she said. “Another focus of the wellness committee is to increase health services in our industry. We’re very fortunate to partner with Fayette County Public Health Department to contract nursing services to all buildings on our campus. These nurses provide daily care to students, including medication administration and assessments of illness and injuries. In addition, they conduct state required vision and hearing screenings. At Miami Trace we are very excited to partner with Adena Health Network to increase health services for our students, our families, and our community.”
Danielle Seymour and Amatha Farrens, parent volunteers with the Miami Trace Panther Care Pantries, spoke about this service.
“Through the work and collaboration of the district wellness committee, we have taken action to respond to the needs of students for items such as hygiene and personal care products. There has always been a need to provide these types of items, and over the years, school personnel have ensured that these needs were met through various means. Now, thanks to generous donors, volunteers, and the members of the district wellness committee, we have been able to expand our Panther Care Pantries across the district. Each of our four school buildings has a process in place for students to request and receive personal care, food, and hygiene products in a discreet and confidential manner. We would like to thank the Miami Trace Elementary PTO, Washington Court House Dental, Prime Meats and Deli, Domtar, and private donors from the community who have generously donated to the Panther Care Pantries. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to provide this additional service to the Miami Trace students. We will continue to need supplies in order to keep the pantry stocked. We invite you to contact building administration with questions or donation inquiries.”
Amy Gustin, instructional technology director of Miami Trace Local Schools, spoke about digital wellness tools.
“Digital technologies have profoundly changed childhood and adolescence. They have transformed their education and learning, the way they make and maintain relationships, how they spend their free time, and how they engage in our society. According to the 2019 National Center for Education Statistics, 95% of our children ages 3 to 18 years old have home internet access either through a computer or smartphone, compared to 92% in 2016. Growing up in this connected world has many opportunities for our children, but also some harmful risks. It is our goal to help our students navigate these waters and maintain healthy and safe relationships with these digital tools. Miami Trace is committed to digital safety and wellness. We have developed a digital wellness plan to guide our use of technology to empower our students, enhance classroom instruction, and support families to engage in this ever-changing environment.”
She finished, “Last month, we held our first Parent Tech Rally, where teachers and computer technicians showcased many of our digital tools used throughout our district. These tools covered such topics as our digital learning platforms, mobile communication tools, student information and online payment options, student progress monitoring, and online tracking tools, as well as parent resources to support healthy and safe digital use while at home. The technology department will continue to host this annual event, as well as revisiting our digital wellness plan every two years.”
The next segment of the Miami Trace State of the District address is called “Building for the Future – Career Field Connections” and will be available to watch on the Miami Trace Local School District website, YouTube or Facebook page beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Segment three will cover academics and will be available to watch at the same time and place on Wednesday, and the final segment, covering finance, will be available to watch on Thursday.