Woods' Weekly is written by Superintendent Brian T. Woods and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.
Good morning! Starting this week, we will graduate over 6,000 Northside seniors in 12 ceremonies. This senior class has persevered like no other class has ever been asked to do. If you know a graduate, please reach out to congratulate them. All NISD staff should view this graduating class with pride. It took a lot of extraordinary effort to get this group across the finish line and you should feel a sense of accomplishment as each graduate walks the stage.
You don’t need me to tell you that it has been an incredible year. We began with no students in the building and moved cautiously to employee children and our neediest groups of students. Slowly we have increased the numbers back in buildings, with some ups and downs, and end the year with more students physically present than we have had since early March of 2020. As of the week before last, we had 61% of enrolled students in the building with the highest numbers at our elementary campuses and the lowest at high school. As you probably know, and pending what gets signed in to law by the Governor, we plan to have relatively few virtual students in August when we return for the 2021-22 school year.
As I reflect on the year that is ending, I want to acknowledge the huge ask we made of our teachers who have worked for many months with in person and virtual learners simultaneously. I have seen some incredible effort and some wild combinations of tech equipment to make that work successfully. As you know, we will make every effort to go away from concurrent teaching almost universally in 2021-22.
I also want to thank those who have been associated with device, food and vaccine distribution. Little did we know when we left for Spring Break in 2020 that we would distribute tens of thousands of devices, literally millions of meals and, now, thousands of COVID vaccines. To everyone associated with this work, thank you! To every Northside employee who has worked harder and differently than ever before, the phrase ‘thank you’ is not nearly enough. We have all witnessed creativity, empathy and working to exhaustion in the last year.
Later this summer we will ask our Board to consider our plans to return to some of the initiatives we were working on pre-COVID. Items like full day Pre-K and STEM labs in our elementary campuses. We will also ask our trustees to consider a general increase to compensation for all employees as well as our plans for the use of the federal COVID relief funds that you have heard about. With more than 15,000 students in our summer programs, the budget to finalize and planning for the use of federal funds, it will be a busy summer. However, I really look forward to that good work.
It has been my honor to serve as your superintendent for another year. Although this year has been incredibly challenging, I feel very optimistic about the coming school year. On behalf of our organization and our very important clients -- our children -- I want to thank you for your hard work, innovation and caring attitude in this unprecedented year. Thanks to those of you who will work in our summer offerings to begin to catch students up and/or provide enrichment. I hope that the coming months allow you to slow down a little and enjoy the things that make you the happiest. For those who work through the summer to keep our buildings well maintained and safe, a special thanks to you. This will be the last issue of Woods’ Weekly for the school year.
Have a great week, enjoy your summer and be well!