State of schools topic at cham­ber meet­ing

Record Observer - - News - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

GRA­SONVILLE — The in­terim su­per­in­ten­dent of the Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools de­liv­ered a state of schools ad­dress be­fore the county Cham­ber of Com­merce kick-off break­fast at Annie’s restau­rant on Thurs­day, Jan. 19

Gre­gory J. Pilewski, in­terim su­per­in­ten­dent, first talked about what the school sys­tem does.

“We make learn­ing so exciting for our youngest learn­ers that they be­come global grad­u­ates that have suc­cess­ful ca­reers,” Pilewski said. “That’s what we do. That’s what we are in the busi­ness of do­ing. That’s what we are good at and that’s what we have high ex­pec­ta­tions of do­ing.”

Next, Pilewski talked about how the school sys­tem is do­ing. He showed a slide about kinder­garten readi­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to the slide, 559 chil­dren en­tered kinder­garten in the county’s pub­lic school sys­tem this year. A to­tal of 51 per­cent of those kinder­garten­ers met the state’s per­for­mance stan­dards, mean­ing that 49 per­cent of those en­ter­ing kinder­garten in Queen Anne’s County aren’t ready to do kinder­garten level work.

“So what we are find­ing is that the achieve­ment gap is be­gin­ning very early and pre-K or kinder­garten is where we start to see the achieve­ment gap, which is the pri­mary fo­cus of the work we need to do,” Pilewski said.

The next slide showed the lo­cal school dis­trict scores in lan­guage arts and read­ing. In the grades five through eight, the stu­dents ranked in the top five in the state. An­other slide showed that by the end of 2021 school year, 75 per­cent of stu­dents in each grade level three through eight will be des­ig­nated as on track for meet­ing col­lege and ca­reer readi­ness.

Pilewski also talked about the key pri­or­i­ties in the school sys­tem.

“One of our pri­mary fo­cuses has to be stu­dent safety and we take the safety of our stu­dents very se­ri­ously as our key pri­or­ity,” he said.

The school dis­trict has a “won­der­ful part­ner­ship” with the Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, Mary­land State Po­lice and Cen­tre­ville Po­lice to en­sure stu­dent safety.

“We have a lot of great pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment with our ad­min­is­tra­tors this year in en­sur­ing that our build­ings, process, and pro­ce­dures are in place,” Pilewski said. “Un­for­tu­nately, you know the world we live in to­day and there’s all cases that come across the coun­try even this year that are still vi­o­lent and we are try­ing to en­sure we have the right process, pro­ce­dures and train­ing in place to en­sure a high level of safety for our stu­dents.”

He also talked about the “epi­demic” of heroin and opi­ate abuse, which he said af­fects on the school sys­tem. “We have worked dili­gently to have strong part­ner­ships to be able to sup­port stu­dents and fam­i­lies as they look at the ad­dic­tion process.”

This year, the dis­trict added a life­styles cur­ricu­lum in the sixth grade, which ad­dresses the is­sue and helps stu­dents make bet­ter de­ci­sions and un­der­stand the con­se­quences of their de­ci­sion-mak­ing, he said.

There’s also the is­sue of sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases. “We’ve seen an in­crease in sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions, es­pe­cially among our high school stu­dents .... We’ve taken steps and mea­sures to help stu­dents with that. But al­though th­ese are fac­tors that in­flu­ence the learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment, they are key chal­lenges,” he said.

An­other pri­or­ity is to elim­i­nate the achieve­ment gap with stu­dents. There’s a no­tion that it can be done by the end of grade two. “I be­lieve we can do it,” he said. “The staff be­lieves we can do it. If we can do that, any­thing is pos­si­ble.”

Pilewski took ques­tions from the au­di­ence. One woman asked Pilewski to talk about where the schools are at with tech­nol­ogy, in­te­grat­ing it into the sys­tem, and how fre­quently it’s up­dated.

“Queen Anne’s County is on the cut­ting edge with its tech­nol­ogy,” Pilewski said. “We cur­rently ... leave a de­vice in the hands of ev­ery child grades three through 12. We in­fused that over the last few years, started in the mid­dle school and moved to the high school and then down to the el­e­men­tary school. So what has hap­pened is it re­ally started to change the con­ver­sa­tion with stu­dents about learn­ing.”

PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

The Queen Anne’s County Cham­ber of Com­merce held a kick­off break­fast at Annie’s restau­rant. Gre­gory Pilewski, in­terim su­per­in­ten­dent of the county’s pub­lic school sys­tem, was the guest speaker.

GRE­GORY J. PILEWSKI

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