Incoming Delaware City Schools Board of Education member Melissa Harris toured all of the schools in the district last week as she prepares to join the board in 2022.
Harris said Thursday she visited the schools along with Superintendent Heidi Kegley, and while she was familiar with the schools her children attended — Smith Elementary, Woodward Elementary, Dempsey Middle School and Hayes High school — she enjoyed seeing and learning about the other schools in the district.
Harris said she was glad to see the elementary schools have been able to expand and now have separate eating and gym areas.
“I’m sure that’s extremely helpful,” she said. “My kids are older, so I know a whole lot about about Hayes and Dempsey … (it’s) been a little while since I had a kid in elementary. Being able to physically go through each school and seeing what their needs are, how they’ve grown, how construction has allowed them to expand but then they still have room for further expansion really gave me a different perspective. (I’ll be) keeping attention on that as the district grows.”
At Dempsey, Harris said she enjoyed seeing the new wing of classrooms that was completed earlier this year.
“(Dempsey) is prepared to go into the future,” Harris said. “(There are) different spaces where kids can do different things.”
Harris said she met with principals and leaders at each school to learn about what happens at each building.
“I was blown away by the individuals we have in the district that are doing things every day in the classrooms and schools,” she said.
Harris added she was impressed by the initiative and innovation she saw in staff and teachers, giving the examples of a custodian at Woodward wrapping up water fountains for safety so students don’t accidentally use them during the pandemic and teachers at Hayes finding new ways to adjust math and science lessons for students.
“Students are being given more options,” Harris said. “I can do things this way or I can go down this path and I do this. (It’s) extremely empowering giving them those options.”
Kegley said Thursday she enjoyed showing Harris around and is looking forward to working with her when she joins the board.
“It was a pleasure to show our newly elected board member, Melissa Harris, around the district over the past two weeks,” Kegley said. “Although Ms. Harris is very familiar with our schools, it was nice to introduce her to our staff and share unique attributes and programs of each of our buildings. At the same time, we were able to share the progress of our construction projects and tour the new spaces at each facility. We are truly looking forward to having her join the board of education.”
Harris will be formally sworn in at the Jan. 3 board meeting.
“I’m excited to get going and further hear what the needs for the teachers and students are in the district,” Harris said. “I’m excited to look at our staffing numbers, how we can increase staff, and focus on how we can get more subs in the building. That was something I saw in every building. (I will) start working collectively with folks to come up with solutions.”
Harris said when she joins the board, she wants to praise the staff and teachers in the district.
“(I’m) anxious to start celebrating the things teachers and staff members have been doing all along,” she said. “Especially with the last two years, they really need to be highlighted and acknowledged for the things they are doing, and however we can do that, I’m all for that.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.