Hollins Hosts Public School Leaders for Back-to-School Summit on Post-Pandemic Planning

Hollins Hosts Public School Leaders for Back-to-School Summit on Post-Pandemic Planning

Community Outreach, Special Events

October 6, 2023

Hollins Hosts Public School Leaders for Back-to-School Summit on Post-Pandemic Planning Post-Pandemic Summit

In conjunction with the start of the 2023-24 school year, Hollins University recently welcomed officials from school systems in the Roanoke region for a planning summit to address the challenges in elementary and secondary education that have emerged after the COVID-19 pandemic. Superintendents and other administrators joined together to share best practices and hear from experts in the field.

“Since the pandemic, national data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress has shown math and reading scores decreasing for fourth and eighth graders,” said Steve Laymon, vice president for graduate programs and continuing studies at Hollins. “We’ve also seen teachers leave the profession and growing difficulties in hiring and supporting new teachers. We know, too, that indicators of student well-being and mental health have demonstrated that students have struggled since the pandemic.”

Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton noted that these issues have “hit low-income students and students of color the hardest,” adding, “If we can design solutions to each of these challenges, we will have accomplished something truly meaningful. I hope you will find in your efforts and reflection a way toward a brighter future for the students in our care. We are, each in our own ways, partners in addressing these dilemmas.”

The day-long summit featured three panels:

  • “Learning Loss/Learning Acceleration: Evidence-based Practices to Accelerate Student Success,” which was moderated by Daniel Anello, chief executive officer of Kids First Chicago, a nonprofit organization that partners with families to help them gain the resources to improve education for Chicago’s children, and Matt Hurt, director at The Comprehensive Instructional Program, a consortium of public school divisions in Virginia seeking to improve student achievement as measured by the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning assessments. 
  • “Recruiting, Supporting, and Retaining the Teachers We Need,” which featured Roanoke City Public Schools administrators discussing their notable success building a set of practices to recruit and retain exceptional teachers while investing in their professional development. Also participating in the panel was Brenda Tanner, head of leadership coaching at Upbeat, which partners with districts and schools across the country to support teachers.
  • Michelle Diehl, Resident in Counseling Services at Hollins University, and Michele Arbogast, School Counseling Department Coordinator at Salem High School, led a conversation on “Student Well-being and Mental and Emotional Health in the Shadow of the Pandemic.”

In her remarks, Hinton acknowledged that school systems have tried many different approaches to address post-pandemic challenges, “but one thing remains clear: We need exceptional teachers to guide these efforts.”