BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Monday, thousands of children across the state of Alabama headed back to school.
Principals and teachers at schools like Bush Hills STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Academy said they’re pumped and ready to roll for the new school year.
Bush Hills Principal Bobby Phillips said they can’t wait for students to walk through their doors again; Superintendent Mark Sullivan said the first day is like Christmas morning for educators.
Phillips said students will walk into a building of smiling faces ready to start their journey to academic achievement, with learning happening day one. He said teachers have been dedicated to getting their rooms ready for students’ arrival.
“We miss you; we love you and we can’t wait to see you,” said Phillips. “Full STEAM ahead. Let’s go!”
Sullivan said there are 100 total positions still vacant district wide, which includes custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria staff, but through various efforts there will be a teacher in place in every classroom on Monday.
“We have plenty of things for them to do on day one, such as going to the E-gaming sports lab, seeing some new things that we put in the school such as the greenhouse, etcetera,” Phillips said.
Schedules are ready for students and registration will be available for those who still need to register, Phillips said. This way, students can immediately transition to the classroom for STEAM-based learning on the very first day.
“We’re ready to hype them up for science so they’re coming in prepared,” said Emetrice Russell, a 7th grade science teacher at Bush Hills. “Letting them talk about vacation, kind of to reconnect and build that connection so that we can really deep dive into our curriculum.”
Birmingham City Schools officials said safety is a number one priority for their students. The school system recently invested in new safety measures this year, purchasing concealed weapons detection systems.
Sullivan said metal detectors were already in place at high schools, but now they have been added to other buildings, too, such as some middle schools.
Every student at Bush Hills will go through a metal detector to makes sure no prohibited items are brought inside the school, Phillips said.
“When you have a safe environment it enhances learning, so when students know that they’re safe, it makes them feel good and comfortable coming into the school doors,” Phillips said.
As the school year begins, Sullivan said there is so much to look forward to and that they have a goal of making the most of each and every school day.
Bush Hills has a personal goal of increasing their academic achievement by 20 points this year, Phillips said, while encouraging more STEAM-based extra-curriculars.
“We will have a drone team, so students will be competing in drone competitions,” said Phillips. “They will also be competing in robotics competitions, so we’re going to have a lot of STEAM integration this year.”
Sullivan said there are newer programs across the district like ‘Empower Academy,’ which provides support for students that don’t speak English.
“We had about 20 students last year,” said Sullivan. “We’re looking to expand that to closer to 100 students who are looking to participate in that program … (It) helps us to address issues that we have with students who are coming into our school system who have English issues.”