American Education Week redefined; Learn with Me opportunities replace annual event

Jacob Gay, Reporter

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     In 1921, American Education Week was instituted as a way for family members to be informed about their students’ achievements, and for them to be a part of the school community. However, according to hcps.org, due to increased safety concerns, many schools, including those in Harco, have adjusted or eliminated this annual event.  

     Schools in Delta, Pennsylvania will continue to dedicate two weeks for family visitation. Parents and other family members in Delta will come into school for an allotted half hour each day for the entire two weeks. Harford County Public Schools has taken a different path of handling the matter. Mr. Bryan Pawlicki described the decision to eliminate American Education Week being “completely up to the central office.”

     In lieu of having the dedicated week for families to attend a school day with the kids, every public school in the county will offer Learn with Me opportunities. These chances could include parents attending an assembly, concert, or an in class activity. 

      The school principal describes the unease to be “mostly in middle and elementary schools due to the amount of people that were attending.”  He added “it became difficult to identify who these people were, there also could’ve been times where the teacher didn’t know who the people in their classroom were. To ensure the safety of the students as well as teachers, the central office felt that they had to take this action.” 

     Pawlicki said Learn with Me “is a campaign throughout the school year where family members will have the chance to learn with the children. For the schools it will be much easier to maintain safety as the amount of people coming into the school at once will be lower.”

     Manager of communications for HCPS Jillian Lader said, parents should “check out the Parent Academy website and to follow the Parent Academy Facebook page for additional information and updates throughout the school year!”

      Jennifer Drumgoole, principal of Norrisville Elementary School, was very excited about the Learn With Me initiative, and said there has been no “backlash from parents. And [she] is unaware of any negative response throughout the county.”

      NH social studies teacher Mrs. Melissa Winter described a “sigh of relief, teachers have lots of responsibilities during American Education Week. It can be nerve racking to have such a large number of people in  your room as you’re teaching.”

     Learn With Me opportunities will also include events such as “Sail Don’t Sink: A Guide to Navigating the Waters of College and Career Planning,” this seminar was held at North Harford High School on November 18, 2019. Events like these are planned by the central county office and can be attended by all students in the county. 

     Most recently Norrisville Elementary School had a Learn With Me event that included parents of kindergarteners and first graders coming into the building for an hour of “crafts and snacks.” Melissa Berrell who is a physical education teacher at the school, explained “as a school we’re thrilled with how the day went. It was all around much safer, easier and more natural.” Berrell expanded, “We [the staff] learned so much that we will improve for next time. Overall, I’d say that for the parents the day was more informative and easier than any previous American Education Week we’ve ever had.”