‘It’s all about the students’: New superintendent visits drive-through open house at Johnson Pre-K Center

NHC's new superintendent wants no child to be left behind

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - There’s no doubt that back to school is a completely different animal this fall. While many students in New Hanover County are already up and running in their virtual classes, others are still getting geared up for their first day back.

On Tuesday, teachers and staff at the Dorothy B. Johnson Pre-K Center held a drive-through open house for their students. Normally, teachers conduct home visits with their students at the beginning of the year, but given the current health crisis, leaders opted for a format where families and staff could practice social distancing.

Parents were able to meet their child’s teacher, fill out forms, and receive supply bags at the open house event.

New Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust also attended the event and had a chance to catch up with families and have conversations with teaching staff about the upcoming school year.

Dr. Foust says even though many kids have already begun virtual learning for the year, the work doesn’t stop for district officials.

“We got the plane off the ground. We still have some things we need to work on and we understand it and we’re gonna put out FAQs on Seesaw and Google Classroom and Canvas for our teachers, our parents our students, FAQs on nutrition and on what the expectation is for parents while they’re at home,” said Foust.

While students work online to get their classwork done, Foust says the district continues to formulate staffing and transportation plans in the event kids are able to get back into the classroom this year.

“We’ve not treaded these waters before and there’s not a blueprint we can go to,” said the superintendent. “We want to work with the community and we don’t want anyone to fail.”

The district’s newest leader says it’s important to hear feedback from parents to be able to grow through this process and address concerns as they come up. Foust also adds that one of his goals for the coming weeks is to get comfortable with the virtual teaching model.

“I want us to master online teaching. It’s one of the things I want us to be able to do... individuals becoming more comfortable… parents, students with the approach so that when individuals... when there’s inclement weather that we don’t have to shut down the learning process,” said Foust.

Already having devices in hand and a workflow could prove valuable during an emergency for a coastal county that’s vulnerable to hurricanes and serious storms.

Despite the obstacles ahead of families in the district, leaders say they’re doing everything they can to make sure educational goals and standards are met and this group of students doesn’t become a lost generation.

“It’s all about the students. It’s all about our students and making sure they have the best, most quality education possible,” said Foust.

The superintendent’s student-centered approach is something everyone can agree on, including teachers helping the district’s littlest students.

“It’s been tough, but its one of those things that the kids are worth it and it’s our job so we just adjust and do what we need to do to adjust and make sure they’re learning and meeting their potential,” said Pre-K special education teacher Victoria Rexroad.

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