The Socorro Consolidated School District will hold in-person schooling this year with the option for students at the secondary level to remain virtual.
Secondary students can remain remote only if it is requested and it would be an online program instead of live instruction.
“We really feel like it’s going to be best for students to be back in-person to make sure they get the correct education experience that they deserve,” SCSD superintendent Ronald Hendrix said.
According to Hendrix, virtual learning at the elementary level “did not do what it was supposed to” as students at that age need to be in the classroom to learn fundamentals such as holding writing utensils, how to glue and how to play and share with other students.
Assistant superintendent Denise Cannon said those students need more one-on-one time with their teacher and to be shown what to do.
“Unless parents are sitting with them side-by-side, each day doing the learning with them, they aren’t going to get that practice,” she said. “We saw that with the kids who returned who were just virtual. If the parents were not able to work with them, the kids came in and they didn’t know how to hold a pair of scissors. They didn’t know how to hold a pencil. We had the kids who were there all year and they are coming out at the end of kindergarten reading, writing, holding a pencil.”
Hendrix said there are studies that show one year of bad teaching, which isn’t the fault of the teachers but the situation the past year-and-a-half, takes three years for students to overcome.
“Just having one year of growth this year isn’t going to be enough and that is what we have been pushing our administrators and the teachers that we need to get more than a year’s worth of growth because it’s going to take several years to make up for the damage last year did,” Cannon said.
To help make up for last year, SCSD will be using new testing to see where a student’s deficit areas are and then target their instruction to that area.
The individualized and targeted instruction would be taking place on Fridays as this is the first school year that Socorro will have a four-day school week.
This year, students at the elementary level will be participating in a Friday program put on by the Rio Grande Education Collaborative. They will also be putting on an after school program for the students.
Hendrix said the program will have a lot of tutoring for elementary students.
“That will give them extra practice, extra opportunities for the kids to learn things that they need to be learning,” Hendrix said.
The elementary program is funded through the 21st Century Grant.
At the secondary level, Socorro is putting on various programs with the help of outside instructors and colleges.
Students will have the opportunity for credit recovery via Edgenuity. The program consists of 10 question quizzes, a 25 question topic test and a 50 question cumulative exam. Students are required to attend on Fridays from 12:30-4 p.m. to make up credits in math, science, social studies and English. Students will be assigned by the Dean of Students or Dean of Instruction and there will be a credit check based on their high school transcript.
For students who want to attend college, they can participate in the Early College High School which allows them to take classes at New Mexico Tech. Their Fridays will include the students meeting with college instructors, uninterrupted lab time and tutoring.
While there will be some tutoring on Fridays at the secondary level, it will mainly be hands-on instruction in areas that the students are interested in.
Cannon said the school district sent out a survey to the students to see which classes they would be interested in taking on Fridays.
Confirmed activities at Sarracino Middle School:
- Amanda Strong and Gail Wagner, YA authors
- Andrew Sanchez, professional comic artist
- Mark Maupin, owner of Xcape Room Warehouse, contractor and entrepreneur
- Very Large Array
- Santa Fe Comic Con
- Balloon Fiesta
- Lincoln, New Mexico, Historic Sites
Clubs and Classes:
- National History Day
- Science Olympiad
- Science Fair
- Math Counts
- Battle of the Books
In the works at Sarracino Middle School:
- Manuel Gonzalez, NM Slam Poet Laureate
- Dennis Engineering, Socorro street project
- Electrician, Socorro County Electric Coop.
- Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe
- Lightning Field, New Mexico Art Installation
- Los Golondrinas, living history museum
Clubs and Classes:
- Digital Art
- First Aid Training
- CPR Training
Clubs at Socorro High School:
- First Tech Challenge
- Socorro High Science Olympiad
- UpWard Bound
- Chinese Club
- Project Lead the Way
- National Honor Society
- Socorro High School Warrior Esports
- Spiritum Bellator Warrior Squadron
- SHS Student Council
Classes at Socorro High School:
- Drama was requested as an elective course and will be taught by PAm Vega
- Drama Club will be two Fridays a month from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Yearbook will no longer be a course offering and will be held on Fridays. The number of Fridays depends on the deadline requirements
- Photography will be held on Fridays and will be determined by the requests from students
- Disney’s Codeillusion
- Drone Engineering will be a full day biweekly or half-day weekly and recommended for students who have completed Algebra 1
- Welding will be offered to catch up on projects, clean and organize the welding shop and work on community projects
- Socorro High School Civic Air Patrol will be offered as an elective or a science credit
Hendrix said he is working with Central New Mexico Community College to bring in credit based classes in areas such as diesel mechanics, welding, engineering and plumbing.
The school district is trying to establish a culinary class for Fridays but is in need of an instructor. Hendrix said they have a food truck for the high school and a food trailer for the middle school to be used in the class.
The culinary class using the food truck or trailer would teach the students both the business and the culinary side.
The truck and trailer will also be used in the food service program which is now run by Southwest Foodservice Excellence.
SFE began their partnership with Socorro last year and this will be the first year they will be offering food to students in-person for the whole school year. Hendrix said SFE provides three options at the elementary level and over five options for secondary students.
On July 26, the New Mexico Public Education Department released the mask guidelines for the upcoming school year.
Students, teachers, staff, volunteers and visitors will not be required to wear a mask if they can show they are vaccinated. Those who are not vaccinated will continue to have to wear a mask.
At the elementary level, masks will be required regardless of vaccination status.
Cannon said how masks at the elementary level makes giving instruction challenging.
“If you think about phonics instruction, the kids have to be able to see the mouth when we do ‘sh’ and we put our lips this way or our tongue goes here for ‘th’ They need to see that and with a mask, there’s none of that,” Cannon said. “Phonics instruction is really hard for our early elementary teachers.”
School for SCSD will begin on Aug. 9.