Pelham City Schools welcomes students back for first day

Published 1:20 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM Waiting with arms wide open as a student rushed toward the entrance of Pelham Ridge Elementary School, a teacher embraced the student with a hug and grin on Wednesday morning, Aug. 9.

These were familiar sights seen at Pelham Ridge and Oaks Elementary Schools. on Wednesday, Aug. 9, as the new academic year started for Pelham City Schools.

“Just the thought of having them back in the building is just a great one,” said Pelham Oaks Principal Chase Holden.“Because ultimately, we’re here to do what’s best for our students and give them the best learning experience possible.”

The goal of giving each student the best possible learning environment is one that is shared by educators throughout Pelham City Schools, which was reiterated during a back-to-school meeting earlier in the week. All PCS faculty attended the employee institute meeting where they heard keynote speaker George Couros discuss how crucial it is for students to feel a connection to their teachers and how that encourages them to become better learners.

“For our teachers and our school employees, I think his message overall is just about how important relationships really hit home,” Holden said. “Something we feel as a district is that relationships are the foundation to learning.”

What Holden is talking about here is a concept known as“School Connectedness.” School Connectedness is a term coined by the American Psychological Association. 

Basically, it boils down to the idea that students perform better academically and socially when they feel as though the adults and peers around them feel invested both in them academically and as individuals. Being able to establish this dynamic as soon as possible, both in the academic year and a child’s career as a student, is critical.

“Ohio State did a study that said simply greeting kids in the hallways before they enter the classroom is shown to improve math and reading scores,” Courus said. “Before your kids enter the classroom, if they feel valued, they’re going to do better.”

Many of the teachers seen on the first day of school made a point to hug their students and ask how their summers were. The halls were filled with conversation and a general excitement for the new year in everyone from the littlest kindergartener to the most jaded middle schooler. 

“I enjoy seeing the students grow year after year,” Holden said. “To be able to see how far they’ve come academically and just seeing them progress just as a person.”

While many were seemingly sad to see summer come to an end, faculty and staff were there to immediately greet students with excitement on the first day.

“I think the most important thing for kids to know is that no matter how the previous year went, the best part about each gap year is that it provides the opportunity for a fresh start, Holden said.”