Washington School District officials, principals and teachers are gearing up for the first day of school.

Students will return to the classroom next Tuesday, Aug. 21. A full-day schedule will be followed opening day.

Already, many teachers are back in their classrooms preparing for the new school year, said Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer.

“It’s always fast and furious these first few weeks,” VanLeer told The Missourian. “I think everyone is excited about the new year and new possibilities.”

An administrative retreat was held last Thursday, Aug. 9, which included discussion on general housekeeping items, old business, curriculum and communication strategies for the new year.

This week, new teacher training was scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the Technology and Learning Center, VanLeer said.

The two-day workshops are focusing on curriculum, instruction and assessment; professional learning communities; common core state standards; school-business partnerships; balanced literacy; technology; and other items.

The new teachers also were teamed up with a mentor who will help guide them through the year, VanLeer said. There are about 32 new teachers this year.

All certified staff will participate in professional development Thursday and all other staff members report on Friday.

Opening Ceremonies

The annual back-to-school program for all district employees will take place Friday at 2 p.m. in the theater at Washington High School.

“This is when I get the chance to welcome back all 600-plus staff members,” VanLeer said.

Opening ceremonies will include brief announcements by the NEA and MSTA district representatives; the annual United Way message; and a presentation on academic successes from last school year.

A highlight of the program will be the presentation of the WINGS Foundation Support Staff Person of the Year award. WINGS also awards an Outstanding Teacher of the Year award at the end-of-the-year program.

VanLeer will give closing remarks and then all staff members are invited to attend a WINGS staff appreciation barbecue at the city fairgrounds.

“I will encourage all staff to get their game face on when I talk to them Friday,” she said. “It’s always exciting to start a new year and see those 4,200 kids come back through our doors. It’s a fresh start for everyone. I’m excited, the teachers are excited and the kids usually are too.”

VanLeer said the district will be focusing on several things this year, including making sure all teachers are technologically proficient; pushing reading in all subjects, including more technology text; and writing.

Bus Locator

Also new this year, the district’s bus provider, First Student, has developed a new online feature to help determine a student’s bus stop and route for the upcoming year.

Parents may go to the district’s website and find the First Student Locator. They can click on the link, enter their address and grade level in the spaces provided, click submit address, and they will see their child’s attendance site, bus stop and pick-up and drop-off times.

First Student said pick-up and drop-off times may vary by 10 minutes.