Statement of Cares and Concerns
In light of cares and concerns voiced by community members and parents at recent board meetings and in the Sun, I want to share how these concerns have been and continue to be addressed by the district.
Derry Township School District, composed of our K-12 Hershey Schools, is annually recognized as one of the top districts in the state and the nation. We have a reputation for excellence that is at the heart of everything we do for our students. In spite of our best efforts, we too have seen the impacts of the pandemic on our schools and have worked tirelessly to implement programming to support students' overall well-being as well as their academic achievement. Some efforts are district-wide and some are building specific. For example:
- We continue to use Second Step kits at the elementary school. This program is a research based Social Emotional Learning curriculum that fosters community and connection and covers everything from why rules are important to problem solving. We have used this program since 2000 and in the 2018-2019 school year had our third update with the new bullying prevention element included.
- At the middle school, we implemented the SELL (Social Emotional Learning Lab) in the 2019 school year as a way to revamp in-school suspension and to create an opportunity to learn, reflect and make amends for behaviors.
- At the high school we have used grant funding to hire an intervention coordinator. This person will work in conjunction with the SEL coach to support students who are struggling with behaviors as well as work with teachers to implement proactive interventions to prevent negative behaviors from occurring.
At each building we use a system of supports where all students receive instruction on foundational expectations and social skills. Students who need greater support and redirection receive additional interventions. The highest level of intervention applies to the smallest number of students, generally between 1 - 3% of children in each building.
Anyone who has had the opportunity to interact with our student body would see that the great majority of our students are kind, respectful, and make good choices. The students are involved in numerous activities and regularly give back to our community. Like everyone, students do make mistakes and those mistakes do have consequences that are outlined in our code of conduct at each building. We are as preventative and proactive as possible, while understanding that children are learning and growing every day - as are adults - we are a learning institution and support a discipline model that teaches expectations and then holds students accountable through learning paired with consequences. Some students learn the expected behaviors immediately, while a small few take more time than others. At the end of the day, we are working to ensure that all students are ready to enter the workforce or an institution of higher learning when they exit our halls - and that readiness is both in their strong academics and their ability to get along with others.
We will continue to address parent and student concerns individually and with confidentiality while reviewing and updating our systems.
If you would like to learn more about our programs at Derry Township Schools or would like to visit one of our buildings with the Superintendent, please reach out to schedule an appointment. I welcome the opportunity to meet and talk with anyone who wants to learn more.