Our Biggest Challenges This Fall
School Administrator, September 2021

“Our students missed a lot of learning time, and our community experienced significant stress. Our priorities this year are equity, engagement and deep learning. Specifically, our focus is on building relationships, building student agency and making learning joyful. Because the past year made it difficult for students to interact, we’re really looking forward to fostering classroom environments with a lot of student discourse and collaboration.”

THOMAS FLANAGAN, superintendent, Burlington, Vt.

“Keeping the conversation and focus centered on students and their needs. Too often the needs of adults dominate the conversation and in education, we need to do a better job of constantly focusing on what is the best and right thing to do for our kids. Because the pandemic has reminded us that we can’t do this work alone, we’re going to engage the full village community in support of students.”

GUDIEL CROSTHWAITE, superintendent, Lynwood, Calif.

“Making sure that our aging facilities can handle any and all social distancing guidelines, as well as parent and staff concerns about the maintenance and cleanliness of most of our school buildings that were constructed before 1940. We’re also concerned about families who may not want to return and about a potential shortage of teachers and substitutes.”

BRENDA CASSELLIUS, superintendent, Boston, Mass.

“Identifying strategies to meet the diverse academic and social-emotional needs of students that have not been in a school building in over a year. While this challenge mirrors one that would exist at the opening of any new school year, it is more pronounced this fall. Additionally, I think that going back to our traditional bell schedules (e.g., 7:20 a.m. start for high school) and the intensity of the in-person model of school is leading to challenges of staff and student stamina.”

DAMIEN PATTENAUDE, superintendent, Renton, Wash.