Andrew Withers: Student engagement = Student success |

Andrew Withers: Student engagement = Student success

Despite the continued obstacles of providing safe and high-quality teaching and learning services in the midst of the global pandemic it’s hard not to reflect upon and acknowledge so many things that are going well in the Grass Valley School District. Like all school districts in our state and region we have been working for more than eight months to navigate the critical health, safety and logistical challenges of COVID-19. We are extremely thankful for our dedicated staff, students and families for their ongoing work and support. As a school district team, we know that the physical and mental health and safety of our students is always our top priority. Especially important now is the emotional health and engagement of our students.

We’ve found that some of the engagement efforts we implemented in prior school years don’t translate in the distance learning or hybrid formats, however, we’ve also discovered that many of our tried-and-true efforts remain highly successful. Students crave authentic activities with their classmates, teachers, and school site staff and student engagement remains essential in the physical and virtual learning settings. Without it, even the best instructional lessons and learning are negatively impacted. Listed below are some of exceptional efforts we are implementing to support students.

A daily homework hotline has been developed to support the Bell Hill Academy, Margaret Scotten, and Lyman Gilmore students. Students/families can access this on weekdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m. by calling 530-648-0771.

Home visits have been conducted by staff to reach out and engage students and families.

“Positive reinforcement for students is a top priority. We recognize students for being exemplary and we let them know how much we appreciate them.”— Farah FriendVice Principal at Lyman Gilmore

We have organized a Kindness Closet where students can pick out clothes if they are in need.

We continue to hold Spirit days to energize and engage students.

Additional events and activities have been organized at Lyman Gilmore to ensure support our middle school students.

A Friday afternoon social Google Hangout is held weekly at 2:30 p.m.

Spirit award winners are identified weekly for their exceptional behavior and work. A winner from the online and in-person cohorts receive a pizza delivered to their home or classroom.

One of our exceptional students was awarded with an ice cream party for reading over 91 books this year.

We distributed googly-eyes to students and asked them to send a fun picture of where they placed them.

We sent home a “Color a Hug” worksheet and asked for students to complete it and give it away as an act of kindness.

We provided marbles to students and asked them to make their own marble tracks and to share a video or pictures of their end results.

Farah Friend, Vice Principal at Lyman Gilmore reports, “Positive reinforcement for students is a top priority. We recognize students for being exemplary and we let them know how much we appreciate them. Delivering pizzas to those students is just one of the many highlights of my job. We often have spirit weeks as another fun way to engage students, both on campus and in Distance Learning.”

Ziana Ramsey, site supervisor of the before and after school program at Lyman Gilmore reports, “We want the before and after school program to be the staple service to our entire district community. We are a great resource and we are here to help.”

Andrew Withers is superintendent of the Grass Valley School District.

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