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First Day of School with Superintendent Dixon

Hello CCS Families, Teachers, and Staff!

We have successfully completed our first day of the new school year, as we welcomed back all 50,000 of our students to their virtual classrooms. Together, we are RISING UP to support our students and their families in this new learning environment. Across the city, we had students actively engaged online with their teachers to start the year off strong. 

I know the first day did not come without minor setbacks and frustrations -- those were to be expected -- but I am proud of how everyone in our District stepped up to respond, troubleshoot, and assist. Opening schools in a completely virtual format is a new endeavor, and there will be bumps in the road along the way. 

I even had my own technical difficulties today as I attempted to “drop in” on some virtual classrooms at Oakmont Elementary. I know many of our teachers, staff, and families had hiccups of their own. Let us all have patience and know that we will work through these challenges and master our new virtual format.

Despite my own computer troubles, our first day had many success stories. I was able to witness first-hand the amazing teaching and learning happening at Southwood Elementary School. Principal Miracle Reynolds was gracious enough to let me visit her school and classrooms to see our teachers in action.

Here is what I saw…

  • Second-grade students were engaged online with their teacher Bernadette Monroe. They were learning two-digit numbers, and I could see parents helping out their young children in the background. It was a wonderful math lesson, and it was inspiring to see this learning happening on day one.
  • First-grade teacher Sheila Deschaine had the Zoom protocols down pat for her virtual class -- there was a time for students to chat among themselves before the lesson, and once the lesson started students knew how to mute themselves and pay attention. The interaction with first graders in this format was outstanding. Mrs. Deschaine read her students the book “How to Get Your Teacher Ready.”
  • Intervention Specialists Patty Sleeper and Andrew Michel were making phone calls and connecting with families to set up supports for their students.
  • Fourth-grade teacher Roxanne Adams walked me through the website that Southwood set up for families to access information -- an idea that other CCS schools could easily emulate. Their families wanted a one-stop-shop for their school information and resources, and Southwood delivered. Click here to see their Google Classroom site.

All across the Southwood building and on computer screens I could see smiling and engaging faces. It was heartwarming to see the interactions between teachers and students, especially considering all that our world has been through since March. I hope to see more of this engagement as we continue this fall, and I plan to drop in on-site and on the screen to classrooms regularly. In fact, I’m scheduled to try again for my virtual visit to Oakmont tomorrow!

Thank you to everyone who helped make day one special, especially our amazing CCS teachers for their patience, extraordinary efforts, and grace as they lead our classrooms in this virtual setting. Together, we will RISE UP to meet this challenge of educating and nurturing our community’s children. I look forward to providing more updates, anecdotes, and data throughout the fall.

Talisa Dixon
Superintendent/CEO, Columbus City Schools