SUITLAND — Prince George’s County Public School (PGCPS) CEO Monica Goldson kicked off the school year by paying visits to a few schools to connect with students and teachers on Sept. 3.
The new school year arrives with new goals and strategies that Goldson plans to implement within the school system such as the Blueprint For PGCPS, new social media sites to connect families to the school system and 22 new principals joining the PGCPS team.
However, Goldson spent the first day of school for the 2019-2020 year getting close to the main focus in her new position as CEO, the students and teachers, by visiting six schools throughout the county. The first of which was Suitland High School.
Goldson gathered with PGCPS staff members and a few elected officials including Board of Education Member K. Alexander Wallace (District 7), County Councilmember Rodney Streeter (District 7) and Delegate Jazz Lewis (D-24). She later greeted teachers as they arrived at the school for the first day.
“It was important to start here today because this is actually the classroom and the school in which I started teaching 28 years ago,” Goldson said of Suitland High School. “I wanted to start in a classroom because I believe this is where the magic happens and dreams come true.”
Every school visited that day was chosen for a reason.
After visiting Suitland, Goldson and her team went on to visit William Beanes Elementary School, where she highlighted new academic investments within PGCPS, such as a new digital literacy immersion program for struggling readers and the community schools initiative, which William Beanes is a part of, that will provide students with support in and out of the classroom.
Goldson then visited William Wirt Middle School, which is about to undergo renovations through state funding, Montpelier Elementary School which is debuting a full-day pre-kindergarten program, Largo High School where she served lunch to the teachers and John Hanson Montessori School to greet the students.
“I have school visits all week, and I try to make sure in my own schedule I keep them every week but today is strategically focused,” Goldson said.
One of Goldson’s big pushes for this year is the Blueprint For PGCPS which utilizes the $53 million in state funding provided for this school year. The funding will be distributed over six areas.
The Blueprint For PGCPS will provide support to 45 schools with the highest number of students living in poverty, expand access to full-day pre-K to nine schools, add certified mental health services to 45 high-need schools, restore compensation to teachers affected by the economic recession in 2009, support students with individualized educational programs and support students who struggle with reading.
“My hope is that all of those initiatives will come into full play by the conclusion of the school year and that our elected officials will have created a formula that will ensure that we have that type of funding for the rest of our students’ academic career,” Goldson said.
Wallace said he is looking forward to what the new school year will bring and sees it as a new era for PGCPS.
“I’m hoping for, of course, academic success for our students and children, but for our community to embrace a new beginning in this school system after some turbulent times,” Wallace said. “It’s going to be a new era in the school system for the board, for the central office administration, and I just hope that is reflected in all of our 200+ schools.”
A few days prior, Board of Education Chair Alvin Thornton released a statement thanking the community for their contributions to last month’s back-to-school events and noting the “positive consensus that has emerged” about PGCPS ensuring that all students have access to an excellent education.
“There is an evolving positive narrative about our school system and the diverse students it serves. In this environment, we can work together to ensure that our children receive the best education possible with the support of our county executive and county council, municipal leaders, and members of the General Assembly and Congress.”
Lewis echoed their sentiments for a successful school year.
“I’m excited for a new year,” he said. “We did a number of backpack giveaways in coordination with the Prince George’s County Public Schools system. I think we just want to make sure that they have everything they need to succeed and dare to dream.”
Apart from implementing the Blueprint For PGCPS, Goldson said she hopes the school system strives for continuous improvement and academic achievement. Some of these goals include improving Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) scores by providing numeracy support and focusing on the classroom and learning.
Along with their hopes for a productive school year, Wallace and Lewis added that the path forward seems positive with Goldson taking the reigns as CEO.
“She has come out of our system both being educated here and her career,” Lewis said. “I think she has the credibility to be able to make the changes that we need, and I appreciate the leadership she’s had thus far.”