‘All students must be in school on Wednesdays next year to make sure that we have solid academic time’
At a subdued Rappahannock County School Board meeting on Tuesday night, Superintendent Dr. Shannon Grimsley and Chair Wes Mills recognized teachers and school staff who retired in 2020 and were not recognized at the time because of the ongoing pandemic.
Geraldine Bailey and Dixie Dodson were presented with Golden Apple Awards for serving as teachers at RCPS for 30 years and 39 years respectively. Fran Krebser was honored for 18 years of distinguished service as a secretary, Tom Pendleton was recognized for his 18 years of service as a bus driver and Joyce Wharton was appreciated for her 22 years of service as a teacher.
Following a report from Student Liaison Cassia Gainer and FamilyFutures Executive Director Anne Yeoman, Grimsley presented the findings of the study group headed by Carolyn Roth at the Headwaters Foundation that was formed to determine the feasibility of bringing back the Wonderful Wednesday program into the curriculum next year. Wonderful Wednesdays, a program designed to provide Rappahannock County Public School students a social-emotional enrichment opportunity on the one day there was no school during the COVID-19 crisis, was very popular with Rappahannock children and families. It may return next year, but not in the same format, Grimsley said.
“Equity in opportunities was absolutely essential for all students,” Grimsley said. “The majority of the team agreed that it was essential to get students back in school five days a week because of the academic gaps that they were seeing in the students. [Teachers] need, from an instructional standpoint, to see all the students. [The team] concurred that all students must be in school on Wednesdays next year to make sure that we have solid academic time as well as enrichment opportunities.”
This year, instead of weekly Wonderful Wednesdays, Grimsley proposed “a club-like format at the end of the day for one Wellness Wednesday a month, and you’ll have a Wonderful Wednesday day where academics are still taught in a modified schedule for something like clubs, additional [social-emotional learning] supports, and enrichment activities through partnerships with a variety of agencies.” Organizations like Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community and the Headwaters Foundation have expressed interest in continuing to support the Wednesday program.
“We have a model to work from,” Grimsley added. “We did it all year and now we’re doing it in summer school,” Grimsley said. “When we have a designated day and we know that day is when we have some specialized programming … then we have more flexibility.”
Stonewall-Hawthorne representative Larry Grove and chair Wes Mills suggested that perhaps Wonderful Wednesdays could be half days to allow for afternoon activities. “A lot of it’s going to depend on … where the needs are and what gaps we have to address,” Grimsley responded.
The superintendent advised that the exact structure of Wonderful Wednesdays remains to be determined, but the schools still have federal COVID-19 relief funds at their disposal to address learning loss and social-emotional needs.
The next regularly scheduled Rappahannock County School Board meeting is on July 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Rappahannock County Elementary School gymnasium.