State of schools topic at chamber meeting
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.”
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