These familiar words signal a new school year for both our students at St. Edmond Catholic Schools as well as children throughout the United States.
It is no coincidence that welcome back is also the theme song of that popular television series titled "Welcome Back, Kotter" that centered around a dynamic and charismatic teacher played by Gabe Kaplan and a group of high school age kids that, while appearing to be outcasts were, in fact, engaging and excited to learn from Mr. Kotter.
Welcome back is also a visible sign of a new beginning for our children. It is a whole new start to a new year of adventures, challenges, relationships and, yes, even learning - learning of new subject material and the continuance of acquiring a better understanding of the world in which we live.
Welcome back in a school year is a sign of hope and a belief in tomorrow. The school year is our collective stake in the future.
In the world in which we live, we can only solve our problems if we continually understand the known and pursue, with vigor, the unknown We, at St. Edmond Catholic Schools are anxious for the 2011-2012 academic year to begin to welcome again our students for a great year.
As our students roll in the door on Tuesday with backpacks and new supplies in hand, excitement and the promise of a new beginning will unfold. New and veteran teachers, and old and new friends will await them along with new experiences both social and academic. Knowledge will be gained through the instruction of caring teachers and staff.
This year, our students will see some definite additions and changes to the school year, especially for our high school students. Beginning second semester, each student will be given a laptop computer to take home. This laptop will be with them each day for the year. Each student will be responsible for the computer to incorporate learning for each day that will take place in the classroom. The vision of this 1:1 program is to enhance the learning of each student and teaching in our system. This program will bring the world to each student through teaching strategies designed to be incorporated in each student's school day, with the help of technology. We have been very fortunate to many individuals who have risen to the challenge of bringing St. Edmond into the 21st century. Many hours of research and study have gone into making this decision. The way that students learn today is rapidly changing and St. Edmond is moving to ensure that our children have the tools to enter this new age of technology.
In August of 2010, a Vision and Strategic Plan for the St. Edmond Catholic Schools was unveiled. Leadership teams have embarked on a plan to ensure the future of our system. It involves a five-year transformation. It will provide multiple possibilities for education of our students to be considerate, compassionate, faith-filled followers of Christ. It is uncompromising; it underscores a commitment to excellence as we provide a Catholic foundation of values, challenging academics and real-life experiences in educating the whole person. The development of the Vision and Strategic Plan - "A Plan for Our Future" - has been the culmination of many hours of work by stakeholders. They have created this living document that will guide us through the next five years. We are deeply grateful to our volunteers and staff for their dedication to this effort.
The faculty and staff continue to hold our students in front of what we are all about. Our goal is to educate the whole student, academically and spiritually. We want to send our students out into the world with the important tools they will need to become citizens and leaders after they leave the doors of St. Edmond. We are excited to begin this chapter at St. Edmond.
Dr. Tim Barry is president of St. Edmond Catholic Schools.