By Tod Kline, superintendent of Waynesboro Area School District
Back in 2017, I asked the Waynesboro School Board of Directors what the significance was of the year 2036. My response was that a child born today (2017) will graduate in 2036. If we are not thinking about that now, we are not doing our job. Believe it or not, the Class of 2036 will register for kindergarten this spring of 2023. The reason for bringing this up is to share that I will be retiring in February, 2023.
It is important for me to thank the community, the dedicated school board, our wonderful staff, and the families of the Waynesboro Area School District (WASD) for supporting the school district and myself nearly six years. From March of 2019 through the tough two years that followed, we were able to work through the challenges of the pandemic. Our district still experiencing the remnants of the pandemic to this day, but we maneuvered it as well as, if not better, than many districts. WASD has grown and gotten stronger from those experiences.
WASD has implemented an early childhood program that services 136 children throughout the district. The program is funded through a $1.3 million grant. The high school has a wing that houses a couple of classes of three to four year-old children developing and learning in order to be kindergarten-ready. The difference between the high school classes and others in the area is that the high school’s child development class is located in the same wing. High school students spend time in those classes working with and learning about child development. Some of the high school students are earning college credit and working toward their Child Development Associate certification (CDA). The CDA is great career path. Students can work at a childcare facility while earning their bachelor degree in education.
The district has worked from a vision called First Choice. WASD wants every student to get their first career choice when they graduate. Whether college, tech school, the workforce, or the military, the objective is for students to get to the next step of the rest of their lives.
There is a focus on academics, careers and the whole child. Some students need more in one area than another. If a student struggles with various social or working skills, the academics and career areas are going to struggle. The three pillars are to help guide us to a child’s success. WASD is building and developing the vision more and more each year.
In 2018-19 the district moved from half day to full day kindergarten. This was for the purpose of improving the preparation of students for the remainder of their school careers.
We continue to add or improve programs. The high school offers a four-year aviation program. Kids learn about the various areas of careers in aviation. The program is paid for through the National Aviation Association. The school is exploring the building of an actual airplane with the help of local engineers and mechanics, etc. This program is paid for through an airplane manufacturer.
The district has had to add classes for trauma and other key whole child areas that help students to develop the skills to be successful in school and work. Social workers and other mental health support have been added to help kids be able to focus more on school. The environments in which some kids live every day can make the toughest folks close to shedding a tear.
This month, the US Army is visiting the Waynesboro Area Senior High School to determine whether or not to start Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corp program. Students will develop discipline and leadership skills. In addition, students who complete the four-year program can go into the army at a higher rank and salary.
Between the community, school board and staff, a great deal has been accomplished for the community’s children. Nevertheless, there is plenty more to do. The district will need to focus on early literacy and math skills. But the foundation of why education is important to a student and the supports to help those students with life’s tough challenges has a great start.
Again, thank you for the honor and privilege of working for the Waynesboro Area School District. I was born and raised here, attended the schools here, and taught and administrated here. I love sharing that my last official board meeting will be held in my former first grade classroom. Therefore, after almost 36 years in public schools and almost 50 years working with kids, I will retire in the same room where I started. For this, I am very grateful to the community. The business guru, Zig Ziglar, said that gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more your express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for!