Plainville school year starts with security upgrades, new programs

Published on Sunday, 1 September 2019 15:34


PLAINVILLE - Plainville schools will see an increased focus on social emotional learning, building security and high school programs intended to connect students to manufacturing jobs when the semester resumes Tuesday.

Steve LePage, superintendent of schools, said that he has several goals for the upcoming school year. One of these is to begin implementing social emotional learning, a new teaching method being developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Marc Brackett, who founded the program, first spoke to Plainville teachers about it last April.

“The idea that social emotional learning represents is that it will help people to better monitor and recognize their emotions so that they don’t impact others negatively,” said LePage. “The first phase is introducing it to teachers and the second phase will be rolling it out with students. We are sending 18 people, four from each of our schools, to Yale to learn more about the program and then bring that knowledge back and share it with other teachers. Formally, we will be seeing it a bit at the end of this year and then more early next year.”

For security upgrades, LePage said that Plainville will also be the first public school district in the state to make use of the Mutualink system which is currently used at community colleges and universities. He explained that there will be a phone app which staff members can download voluntarily. In the event of an emergency, they can press a button which will alert everyone else at the school with the system as to what is happening. There are different buttons to press for things such as a fire drill or an intruder.

“When a teacher presses the alert, everyone else who has the app will be notified and police will be notified right away,” he said. “It bridges communication gaps in the radio system and if there were an intruder, we wouldn’t have to make an announcement over the loudspeakers and let them know what we know.”

At Plainville High School, a new program, “Industrial Technology Enterprises” will begin. The curriculum is being aligned to the needs of local manufacturers and it will include job shadow opportunities.

“The goal with this program is to have a pipeline to industries where there is a lot of demand for skilled workers,” said LePage. “There is a real shortage of skilled manufacturing workers in the state. Participants will be learning at the school in the morning and interning in the afternoon. Hopefully, this will lead to job opportunities either after school hours or after students graduate. College is not for everybody and this program is a way for students to earn high school credits while also working toward a career where they can potentially earn $50,000 right out of high school.”

An additional tool which teachers will have available to them is called “NaviGate Prepared.” He said that this would allow teachers to take attendance with the touch of a button on their computers, increasing communications at the school.

LePage summed up his goals for the coming school year as bringing greater safety and security, higher achievement and sense of community to Plainville Schools.

To promote a sense of community, LePage plans to create a combined Parent Advocacy Council which will meet twice a year, in October and March, and will bring together members of Parent Teacher Organizations from all local schools.

“This will allow them to share ideas and collaborate on things like group fundraising and it will also be an avenue for me to share what is going on with the district,” said LePage. “We want more than just the parents that come to everything. We want to keep diversity in mind when we consider who is invited. We want all different groups, backgrounds and cultures to have a seat at the table.”

Plainville schools will also be debuting two new hashtags, hoping to engage students via social media. Recently, at Convocation, LePage said the school district honored two outstanding students - Michael Ahern, 9, who started the Scoops for Troops fundraiser for the Travis Mills Foundation this summer, and Nico Fasold, 14, who for 10 years has been using his annual lemonade stand to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation. These students, LePage said, are examples of what students are encouraged to tweet about using the hash tags #PCSHeroes and #WeArePlainville.

“We want to celebrate good things in our community and we encourage students to share them when they see them,” he said.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or .

Posted in The Bristol Press, Plainville on Sunday, 1 September 2019 15:34. Updated: Sunday, 1 September 2019 15:36.