DoDEA Pacific completes first week of 2014-15 school year

DoDEA Pacific completes first week of 2014-15 school year

by Lawrence Torres III, Department of Defense Education Activity - Pacific
DoDEA Pacific

OKINAWA, Japan — More than 23,000 students and 3,000 professional educators and support staff returned to Department of Defense Education Activity Pacific schools Aug. 25-29 for the first week of the new school year.

“Whether your child is joining DoDEA Pacific again this fall, attending a DoDEA Pacific school for the first time, or new to the Pacific altogether, we are proud and honored to serve in your community,” wrote DoDEA Pacific Director Dr. Linda Curtis in her annual welcome-back message. “Children thrive when caring adults take an active interest in their learning, and we are deeply grateful to all those who contribute to our educational mission.”

Parents and community supporters will have many opportunities to get involved and see first-hand the changes occurring across the Pacific this school year including a new elementary school in Japan, a learning management system upgrade, increased focus on college and career-ready standards and curricula, and an extra emphasis on improving communication among all stakeholders.

The New Ikego Elementary School:
More than 390 students were excited to walk into their brand new Ikego Elementary School located in the Ikego Housing Complex in Zushi City, Japan. The new school has a digital video studio; a special room dedicated to science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM; modern playgrounds to keep students healthy and active; and special rooftop garden areas to reduce the amount of energy the school needs for heating and cooling.

New 21st Century Teaching and Learning Tools:
Another change this year is the implementation of an upgraded learning management system called Schoology. The current DoDEA LMS known as Blackboard will be replaced in the coming months by the Schoology platform. The new online system offers cutting-edge content creation and publishing features in support of DoDEA’s Virtual School program, blended-learning applications for classrooms in brick-and-mortar schools, informal professional learning communities within and across schools, and online staff training. Click to learn more about DoDEA’s implementation of Schoology.

Investing in College and Career-ready Educational Outcomes:
DoDEA will place a special emphasis this year on transitioning to more rigorous and relevant college and career-ready standards, curricula, and assessments. “We are beginning a journey to modernize the teaching, leading, and learning that occurs each day on our campuses, and we welcome your continued support,” wrote Curtis.

The following two priority areas have been identified by DoDEA Director Tom Brady and this school year will serve as the foundational effort to foster long-term gains in student achievement:

• Priority 1: Strengthening DoDEA’s standards-based educational system by transitioning to: a) college and career-ready standards that are infused with rigor and relevancy; and b) a common standards-aligned curriculum, instructional framework, and assessment system.

• Priority 2: Establishing the organizational capacity to uniformly improve student achievement and school operations.

Click to learn more about DoDEA’s strategic focus.

Improving Communication Among All Stakeholders:
DoDEA also has a special back to school online resource page filled with valuable information including links to DoDEA’s college and career-ready eBook, the DoDEA Director’s entry plan and 100-day report, and special video messages. The parent resource link provides updated guidance on immunizations, transportation, school calendars and more:

Ongoing student support from parents and other caring adults is essential throughout the school year. Volunteers can assist teachers in classrooms, coach and mentor through after school activities, serve on advisory committees, and in many other ways. Information on how to get involved is available at each school office and through local School Liaison Officers:

DoDEA Pacific schools also offer open houses and other special events during the first few weeks of the school year to welcome all students and families. Parents are encouraged to contact the school office for specific times and locations for these special events.

A special collection of DoDEA Pacific back to school photos are also available:

DoDEA Pacific Special Events for SY2014-15: Click here for the calendar.
Note: All dates, locations and events are subject to change. Please check with the local host school for any updates.

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