ADAMS TWP — No one can say the Mars School Board doesn’t go the extra mile to learn about the issues facing the district, its students and its staff.
Dayle Ferguson, board president, said at Tuesday night’s board meeting that she accepted an invitation by Middlesex Township Police officers Randy Ruediger and Conrad Pfeifer to attend the Keeping Kids Safe seminar on March 12 in Pittsburgh.
Ferguson said the eye-opening seminar contained information on school violence and emergency response, and gave an inside look at case studies on school violence.
“You could certainly feel the intensity of the topic,” Ferguson said.
She stressed the importance the board and administration place on frequent and repeated training for students and staff when it comes to potential school violence.
“I know we’re working every day to keep that up,” Ferguson said.
Several board members also accepted an invitation on March 20 to view the district’s projects-based learning program at the middle school.
Ferguson said the board members heard students give their final presentations on the African-American Mount Rushmore project, in which students select a black historical figure and complete a research project on that individual.
“Each one was absolutely unique and special in its own way,” Ferguson said.
She said the students used social studies, language arts, technology, public speaking and other subjects to create the projects.
Working with the Mars Education Association, board members also participated in Take a School Board Member To Class Day on March 14.
Ferguson said six board members spent all or part of the day with a teacher.
She said the objective was for the board members to experience a typical day in the classroom from the teacher’s point of view. She hoped the day also would strengthen the relationship between the board and the teacher’s union, and give the board firsthand information on the operation of the district.
Ferguson spent time in four of the district’s five school buildings in a language class, a biology lab, a computer lab, a math class, an inclusion class, an asset science class, and at a yearbook photo session.
Ferguson said she was delighted to spend time in the elementary school classroom of third-grade teacher Chris Petrini, where she helped out as well as observed.
“They were so welcoming and open,” Ferguson said of Petrini and the students. “(Petrini) allowed me to see how the decisions that we make in this (board) room come to life for the students.”
She said Petrini’s students each sent her a personal thank-you note for visiting their classroom.
Board member Jane Dunn spent time in the elementary school in a Spanish class.
“It was a great day to be in the class and see it (in action,)” Dunn said.
She also oversaw a detention session at the high school, which Superintendent Jim Budzilek felt he need to clarify.
“She was not in detention,” Budzilek joked.
Board member Rita Dorsch observed a physics class and watched the high school yearbook committee manage a photo session.
John Kennedy spent his day at the middle school, watching seventh- and eighth-graders in a math class. Kennedy said it was interesting to watch teachers adapt to learners of different levels.
Steve Boggs spent his day at the high school with science teacher Bill Wesley, who he called a “a true professional.”
Boggs said he was able to get a look at the high school’s one-on-one initiative in action as students worked on computers lent to them by the district.
Ferguson said she hopes the Take a School Board Member to Class program continues because it is valuable.
“To see the board’s priorities translating to the betterment of our students was very inspiring,” she said.