ASHTABULA – The superintendent of Ashtabula Area City Schools reported on the work done and progress made in her new district during an April 7th Public Works/Public Utilities/Cable/Schools Committee meeting, particularly highlighting new programs implemented to help make students career ready.
“The major thing we’ve been working on is our strategic plan,” Dr. Melissa Watson, superintendent of Ashtabula Area City Schools, said. “As far as I can see, we don’t have a strategic plan or at least an updated one.”
Part of the plan moving forward was the “Aim Higher” effort, a program for kindergarten through high school students designed to spotlight the different opportunities available to them, from skilled trades to college.
“We’ve shifted our emphasis from college-ready to career-ready,” Watson said.
Part of that shift has included recent visits to high school and middle school students from local firms to showcase the skills needed to work there, which do not necessarily require a college diploma but require certification or some sort of trade skills.
Part of the Aim Higher program also included a contest in Ashtabula schools. Faculty and staff decorated their classroom or office doors in the theme of their alma mater as well as displaying the degrees and certifications they’d achieved.
“It really got the kids asking questions,” Watson said. “They asked, ‘How did you get that? Where did you go? How long did it take?’”
Watson also highlighted efforts to incorporate evening sessions into the district’s kindergarten registration to boost numbers and allow working parents an opportunity to attend and ask questions.
The incorporation of Chromebooks into classrooms for students as well as faculty was another point touched on by Watson. The small laptop computers have made a big difference for students at Ashtabula schools.
“The purpose of the Chromebooks is to give the students the means to utilize all that technology can provide,” Watson said. “There are so many things out there to take advantage of and technology opens that door.”
Updates to the AACS website are ongoing, with principals uploading and updating events and photographs for their respective schools weekly, according to Watson.
“As you may have seen, we used to have stories on there about students who’d graduated in 2012,” Watson said. “I invite you to check the site regularly now, there really is a lot on there.”
Committee member Josephine Misener invited Watson to attend a meeting of the Ashtabula Downtown Development Association to help coordinate efforts they’d both expressed to give art students at Ashtabula schools an outlet – the putative plan being to allow students to display their work in the windows of some of Main Avenue’s vacant storefronts.
Another possible project Misener raised was to have Lakeside High School students take part in a possible project called “The Art of Learning” in partnership with ADDA at the Main Avenue parking deck.
Pictured is AACS Superintendent Dr. Melissa Watson during her update on her district’s progress since she took over as superintendent just prior to the beginning of the 2016/2017 school year. Among the highlights were a career-readiness education effort and the rollout of the Google Chromebook, a small but effective laptop computer for faculty and students.