Chris Wheeler, second from left, whose son, Chris, will be a freshman, is visited by, from left, Carol Craven, a social studies teacher, Tamara Muchiarone, a science teacher, and Diane Herrick, an English teacher on Friday.
Scott High School teachers gave the back-to-school routine a big twist Friday, welcoming freshmen by going door-to-door to deliver backpacks and spread Bulldog pride to the new high schoolers and their parents.
More than 50 teachers, paraprofessionals, and other staff of the central city school split up in groups and visited many of the homes of the roughly 130-member freshman class. They dropped off backpacks adorned with the school’s Bulldog mascot and stuffed with paper, notebooks, and other supplies. They also shared a simple message.
“We want people in the community to know that we really do care about our students,” said Principal Treva Jeffries of the outreach effort now in its third year.
A trio of teachers surprised Chris Wheeler when they stopped at his front porch on Melrose Avenue. The father of a freshman boy also attended Scott, where his daughter graduated in 2010.
“I think it’s beautiful,” he said of the teachers’ attempt to meet parents and students in their own neighborhoods. “It just lets you know the support of the school system.”
A Freshmen Academy will take place Tuesday at Toledo Public Schools’ six traditional high schools. On that day, only freshman will report to class, giving teachers time to focus on their unique needs.
Scott also scheduled two parent meetings, which will take place before classes begin.
But Ms. Jeffries wanted to do something extra special to start the school year for those students who will navigate high school hallways for the first time. After poor attendance at a freshman orientation several years ago, she developed the idea to take teachers to the students and expanded the effort each year to include new elements.
“What can we do to really get the parents involved, make them feel a part of our community, make them feel a part of Scott High School, and make them feel welcome?” she thought. “I said, ‘You know what? We’ll go out into the community, and we’ll just go to their homes and give a personal invitation.’”
A federal School Improvement Grant was among the funding sources that helped pay for the backpacks and school supplies, which cost an estimated $16 per student. Friday was also scheduled as a professional development day for staff.
After hearing from a motivational speaker, some teachers boarded a yellow school bus while others piled into vans. They fanned out across the area, following routes plotted by zip code and neighborhood.
At Mr. Wheeler’s house, the teachers handed him a backpack to give to his son and staked a Scott sign in his yard. English teacher Diane Herrick said the group had already visited about a dozen other homes, meeting parents and students who were excited for the school year.