Sounds of a New School Year

Hobby Elementary School teachers prepare for the coming school year.
By: Todd Martin
That rumbling sound of unpacking, distributing and collaborating is the fast approach of a new school year.
Across Killeen ISD, teachers continue to work in grade-level and subject-area teams to re-design lessons for Monday’s virtual start to school, while piecing together visual aids to serve as backdrop for their virtual audiences.
There is the sound of distribution of the school supplies KISD is providing to families and the check-out of devices for those who requested the technology to log-in to lessons beginning next week.
There is also the ripping apart of boxes, a task that the district’s transportation staff members and other temporarily re-assigned employees are diving into to prepare for the virtual start Monday and the anticipated face-to-face start three weeks later.
There is also the clear sound of excitement.
Killeen High School staff members finally began Wednesday sprucing up classrooms available to them adjacent to the continuing renovation work on the re-forming building.
Principal Kara Trevino recorded her welcome back message in the temporary office space she originally planned to move into after spring break. She praised her staff members for patiently walking through months of uncertainty with enthusiasm.
Killeen High English teacher Ariana Lavender began setting up her desk and updating her classroom walls.
“It’s good to be back in my classroom,” she said. “I’m getting organized because I want it to look like a classroom for me and for them,” she explained. “It’s better to be teaching here than at home.”
Elsewhere, teachers worked together to learn the intricacies of zoom conference software and the learning platforms they will employ to communicate with students.
A high school yearbook teacher considered the logistics of assigning students to document their virtual start to school.
A group of kindergarten teachers talked through lessons to illustrate the difference between a long A and short A sound while holding items children could see on a screen – “apple and acorn.”
Fifth-grade teachers considered reading passages to stimulate discussion and lead into get-to-know-you activities.

At the school board meeting Tuesday, Superintendent John Craft provided an update on the district’s Return to Learn efforts: 
  • KISD published its Public Health Guide outlining campus procedures, as required by state law.
  • The district began this week distributing iPads and laptops to family members requesting devices.
  • The school district launched its Virtual Learning Center for both elementary and secondary students, giving family members a chance to get a peek at the virtual learning platforms.
  • The district also published Connected Classroom Handbooks for elementary and secondary students and parents outlining procedures and expectations in the virtual learning environment.
  • During summer professional development, 2,767 district staff members took advantage of 187 sessions KISD offered remotely, resulting in 6,577 separate enrollments and 30,024 continuing education hours.