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A Letter From Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley To Mark the Start of the School Year

Heart of a lion words

A reprint of a letter sent to family and staff on Monday, Aug. 13, 2019

Dear Parents and Staff,

We hope you and your families had a wonderful summer. Tomorrow is the first day of school for all of our students. We are delighted to have them back and to welcome our new families to The School District of University City community.

For all of our students, from youngest to oldest, there will be hugs and high fives and many other special ways to welcome them, so they feel safe, loved, supported and challenged.

We’ve been busy the past few weeks. Last month we welcomed 35 teachers to the District who went through a week-long orientation that included team-building exercises and a fantastic day-long workshop with Dr. Sharroky Hollie. Dr. Hollie, a national expert, led them in a training on culturally responsive classroom management so all students are included and supported in classroom settings. Their energy and enthusiasm was amazing, and we are so glad to have them here with us.

More than 40 members of our student-support team partners also met for a day of planning and training to make sure they are ready to meet the needs of our students. Our entire math instruction team from kindergarten through high school met last week for a Math Immersion Camp to align and enhance curriculum. And finally, our full roster of staff and teachers gathered for Opening Day on August 5. After a morning assembly themed Heart of a Lion, more than 500 attendees participated in workshops in which they learned key strategies to build strong relationships with students and fellow staff.

If you are seeing a theme here, it’s no accident. We at University City Schools believe that learning goes hand in hand with student wellness - and the underlying key to that wellness is strong, genuine relationships. Building those relationships is a critical foundation for learning.

Do you remember the teacher or teachers who had a lifelong positive impact on you? I’m sure you would agree that these specific teachers connected with you through a strong and healthy relationship that went far beyond teaching coursework. Simply put, the best teaching uses both the head and the heart.

We have an exciting year ahead as we continue to emphasize the three pillars of Learning Reimagined: to humanize, personalize and problematize learning experiences so all students are challenged, engaged and supported in relevant, hands-on learning.

We are so happy and honored to build these personal and powerful relationships with you and your children.

In Service of Our Children,

Sharonica L. Hardin-Bartley, PhD, PHR
Superintendent of Schools