Commissioner Stuart – August 2021
It’s Time To Start Thinking About Back To School!
The first day of school is August 10 for our Orange County Public Schools and our private schools will follow soon after. Back-to-school time is a busy time, especially as so many families transition back to in-person learning. It is such a wonderful mix of new parents enrolling young children into their first VPK program and veteran parents thinking “We’ve got one more year to go,” and either being excited or scared (or both) about that fact.
Teachers are preparing classrooms and staff are beautifying the schools for a new crop of young minds coming into the 2021-2022 school-year.
Some students are dreading their first day of school, while others are counting down the days– and of course our student athletes are taking care of physical exams, EKGs, and all the prep work that goes into school sports.
Whatever side of life you’re in right now, it is my belief that it is the community’s job to support our young people, their families, our teachers, and our local schools as they navigate the new school year.
The City of Orlando is looking for crossing guards who will be available for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon to ensure the safety of our children for every day that they are in school. You can apply for this position at cityoforlando.net/police/schoolcrossingguard.
Orange County Public Schools are also registering children for Volunteer Prekindergarten education programming (VPK). Residents can enroll their children by visiting earlychildhoodocps.net
Here are some other relevant ways to support our local schools this year.
- Donate to a teacher’s classroom project.
Some teachers have projects they are working on to assist with their students’ learning. Others are looking for specific supplies that they can’t get enough of to last the entire year.
An organization that supports our teachers and could use your time or resources is A Gift for Teaching (agiftforteaching.org).
- Support local libraries.
Local libraries are an important resource for low-income students and our community at large. Visit ocls.info for ways to help.
- Attend a local school board meeting.
You, as a citizen, have a voice to make sure teachers and schools have the support they need to teach the next generation. Visit ocps.net for meeting dates and times.
- Volunteer at a school.
You can volunteer your time in many different ways, for example as a mentor or reading coach. Many schools also need help beautifying and preparing for the incoming classes. You can contact your local school for ideas on where you might fit in to their system.
- Drive extremely cautiously around our schools and take great care in school zones to slow down and be on the constant look out for pedestrians.
Even by lending your support in the smallest ways, you are making an investment in your community that will last for generations to come. Needs change throughout the school year, so make note to connect with leaders at your local schools and offer assistance on a regular basis.
Another way to connect and learn about our communities is by attending the 2021 State of the City Address that City of Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer is hosting this month. Taking place on Thursday, August 19 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, it will be a time to reflect on the city’s recent accomplishments and to highlight initiatives and priorities that will help keep Orlando resilient, connected and moving forward. Visit orlando.gov/events for details.
Finally, if you haven’t been to the Front Yard Festival at the Dr. Phillips Center yet (drphillipscenter.org) — try attending one of the events. They’ve extended this positive community experience through the rest of the year. You can watch top notch performances in your own private box that fits up to six people, and order food from some of Orlando’s best local restaurants on-site. It’s a good night out, or a warm lunch to get you out of the office for a bit… and is another way to build and support our community.
As always, thanks for all you do for our shared City. Enjoy the rest of the summer. Make it safe and fun!