Visiting campuses is one of my favorite parts of my job. After a five-month absence, I was ready to see my friends as they prepared their classrooms to welcome kids returning to campus and those who will be joining us remotely. One of the first campuses I visited was Hartman Elementary, and one of my first classroom stops was Mrs. Butler’s first grade classroom.
Nancy Butler is a special friend and “truth-teller” who helps to keep me on the straight and narrow; every superintendent needs people like her who will speak openly and honestly. This week marks the beginning of my tenth school year as superintendent of Wylie ISD; and, after hundreds of visits to this campus, I still manage to learn something with every visit. In the middle of a pandemic, you would think Mrs. Butler’s first comments would have focused on her safety concerns. Nope. She was more concerned about the impact that having desks six feet apart would play on her kids’ ability to build relationships and foster a healthy classroom community. Her mindset blew me away. I was so grateful for her compassion and concern.
On Thursday, selfless teachers like Mrs. Butler will enter our Wylie ISD classrooms, on the front lines of COVID-19, to serve our students. Teachers are not alone. In their dedication to our kids, bus drivers, student nutrition staff, paraprofessionals, technology teams, secretaries, and custodial services staff members have all been planning for the safe return of students. When students return on Thursday for the first day of school, we will be ready.
Some may wonder why schedules were late to arrive. Thank you for your patience with us. Thank you for your patience as campus administrators continued to accept the last-minute changes and parent requests to schedule students to either on-campus or remote learning. We are proud to give families a choice, and we want to do all we can to offer support.
Out of the 17,408 students enrolled, 52% of families have chosen on-campus learning, and 48% will continue their education remotely. This balance between the two choices provides an optimal opportunity to manage the number of students on campus to promote social distancing for the first nine weeks of school, and we are ready to make learning happen.
Yes, we will experience challenges along the way. With teachers like Nancy Butler, and thousands of other Wylie ISD employees, amazing families, and students, we will rise up TOGETHER and meet any challenge and grow from this experience. Welcome to the new school year. We will not forget this one, so let’s make it special safely, securely, and with love and support, the Wylie Way!