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'Small world, big future' at South Fayette schools this year

| Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, 1:24 p.m.

South Fayette Township School District plans to send students into a “Small World, Big Future” as they head back to the classroom.

Students at South Fayette returned to school Aug. 22, where roughly 20 new staff members greeted them.

Mostly, the new staff was needed due to enrollment growth, said Superintendent Kenneth Lockette.

The district ended the 2017-18 school year with 3,226 students on its campus. It’s starting the 2018-19 school year with 3,359 students.

The district embarks on a new strategic plan in 2018-19 that Lockette, who started in South Fayette in January, says will serve as a blueprint for years to come.

The district’s comprehensive plan is due to the state Department of Education Nov. 30.

With its strategic plan, the district will review its mission, vision, principles and values, Lockette said. The district likely will issue a survey to gather thoughts about the district’s culture and programming. Then committees of stakeholders will be formed to formulate the action plan.

“The approach for this work will center on the whole child; that is, we will not only focus on academic success but also on social-emotional needs for all students,” Lockette wrote in a letter to district families.

As district leaders gathered for a retreat this summer, they selected “Small World, Big Future” as the theme for the 2018-19 school year.

With that, school leaders will look at “how the future of work has changed,” specifically due to technology, Lockette said.

“It’s a different world our kids are going to be entering,” he said. “We want to look at: What are the things our kids need to know?”

That will include disposition and skills, including flexibility, resilience and the ability to collaborate.

The district also will focus on the need for students to be culturally and globally competent, as the world they’ll be entering is much more diverse than where they’re coming from, Lockette said.

The district will continue to embed computational thinking as another form of literacy for students in all grades.

The district will continue partnerships with code.org, Carnegie Mellon University and others to create that path, Lockette said.

Security upgrades also have been under way. It updated cameras and radios and is adding two armed security personnel from Armstrong Security to its campus. The district already has a school resource officer on campus.

The district is developing a threat assessment team. Experts from the University of Virginia who designed the framework for the Virginia Department of Education will visit the district to help train leaders.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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