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Superintendent's News

Posted: August 6, 2021

Here We Go!

Superintendent Elder's welcome back message

We have been planning for this return to the classroom for months now. Really, for more than a year. Ever since the pandemic forced us out of schools, we have been fighting our way back in. 

We did a trial run for a few weeks in the spring when about half of our students returned to school buildings while others continued to learn from home. During that time, and in the months before and since, we learned, adjusted, and changed course (often) to pursue the safest, most effective way to provide quality education to all students in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Now, it’s time to put our plan in place. We are ready.

On Wednesday, tens of thousands of Albuquerque Public Schools students will return to school, joining another 5,000 at extended-year schools that started a week earlier. Most of these kids will be excited but nervous, too. Some will be apprehensive or even traumatized. Many haven’t stepped into a classroom in 17 months. They are older, probably taller, and a little battle-worn from a year and a half of learning at home and all the frustrations, isolation, and challenges that came with it. They miss their friends and classmates. They need their teachers. They require support from their principals, counselors, nurses, and so many other educators.

It’s up to all of us to help them make a smooth transition back. I was going to say back to normal. But it’s a new normal now. So, how do we help our students get the most out of this new, promising school year? 

We get back to basics.

The APS Teacher Learning Network has outlined five keys to coming back strong:

  • Teach on grade level
  • Stick to the essential standards
  • Monitor learning frequently and adjust instruction as needed
  • Take the time to develop rapport and trust
  • Remember that when we tell kids, “Just do the best you can,” that applies to us, too.

“It is a cliché, but we need to work smarter, not harder,” TLN wrote in its Guidance for Addressing Unfinished Learning. “We need to be intentional, targeted, and patient in order to ensure that our students are able to perform well at grade level.”

This applies to all educators who work on behalf of the students of Albuquerque Public Schools. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia, to get lost in the debate, to disagree and pull apart. But that’s not in the best interest of our students. For them, I ask that you stay focused on our pillars, developed with shared values and core beliefs:

  • Equity and access for all students and staff 
  • High-quality, equity-driven instruction for every student
  • Social and emotional learning 
  • Effective and efficient operations   
  • Staff and community engagement  

Despite all we have been through as a school community, it is so very good to have kids back in school, don't you agree? Let’s be there for them physically, mentally, emotionally. And let’s be there for each other, too. Thank you for all you do. Here’s to a fantastic school year.