Hamilton school staff prepares for school year

The faculty and staff of Hamilton City Schools kicked off the school year Monday with an welcome back presentation from Superintendent Janet Baker.

More than 1,000 teachers, clerks, bus drivers and kitchen staff gathered in the Hamilton High School Athletic Center to hear from school and city officials and a keynote address from Local 12 news anchor Brad Johansen.

“We’re not hear to talk about homework or the Ohio graduation tests,” Baker said. “But we’re here to celebrate education when in a couple of days we’ll be teaching all of our students everything they need to know to be a success in life. And we will teach them by example, and teach them with care and love.”

There were two major things to celebrate, she said: The completion of the $250 million master facilities plan and the district being named a National School of Character.

“I don’t know of any other district that had the opportunity to build brand new schools and have renovated all of the other schools across the district,” she said. “I think we would all agree now that it’s completed, it’s great.

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“Now it is our challenge to truly re-think and re-energize your teaching, to take full advantage of the benefits of your building,” she said.

Board of Education President Larry Bowling thanked everyone for their patience during the construction process over the last 10 years.

“We know the construction project was very trying on everyone’s patience, but for the most part it’s over,” he said. “We also spent a tremendous amount of money on technology that we hope will improve our students’ performance.”

Bowling hinted at further challenges ahead as every district in the state will participate in the new Common Core standards for curriculum and stricter standards for school ratings.

“Testing and grading is going to get harder, but we still have the high expectation that all students can learn and the you will teach them,” he said. “We’ve been told that under the new school rating system that urban schools will find it more difficult to move out of academic watch or continuous improvement, that if we were being graded today, would be in continuous improvement.

“But we don’t buy that,” Bowling said. “We think that we can get to effective, maybe excellent, and stay there.”

Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller said that when he walked into the gymnasium and saw all of the GMC banners for other schools, he realized, “We’ve got what they don’t have, a school district that is a National District of Character.

“As a result of your success, I’m personally going to see to it that we can make Hamilton a ‘Community of Character,’” he said, and stressed the lasting impact of character education. “I may not do algebra every day… but I do practice good character every day.”

Contact Richard O Jones at (513) 820-2188 or rjones@coxohio.com.

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