Pacific East Stakeholders Symposium
Last night at the Little Theater on NAF Atsugi, Dr. Steven Bloom, Pacific East Superintendent, Dr. Helen Bailey, Community Superintendent, and the Commanding Officer of U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Captain John Bushey, were on hand to meet and greet all stakeholders of the Zama Schools Complex who wanted an opportunity to voice their opinions, offer suggestions, and ask questions concerning the welfare and success of their children. While Dr. Bloom was able to share his mission for the Pacific East Region, administrators from Lanham ES, Mrs. Sharon Carter and Mrs. Peggye Wilson as well as Zama HS, Dr. Louis D’Angelo were onboard to confirm their commitment to meeting his expectations and addressing the specific needs of their school environments.
Though parents were passionate as they expressed their concerns about the specific issues that concerned their child and school, Drs. Bloom and Bailey reassured them that their voices were heard and the issues would be dealt with. There was an air of confidence and concern as each issue was met with sensitivity and respect to parents’ frustration. Among the many challenges discussed, including the need for a permanent nurse at Lanham ES, one of the biggest issues brought to the forefront from parents was the presence of long term substitutes in three positions at the elementary school. Mrs. Carter addressed this by sharing with parents that each long term substitute is collaborating with the grade level chairperson and receives lesson plans, class activities, and materials to facilitate those lessons and cover all standards as it is done in all other classes on campus. She further noted with an example, Mr. Nathan Rogers, Gifted Education Teacher, teaches English Language Arts in one of those classes as Mrs. Lisa de Garcia teaches Mathematics, and the substitute leads the Science, Social Studies and Health content. One of the long term substitutes, Mrs. Shanell Bailey expressed how pleased and thankful she was for the assistance she receives daily in order to facilitate her lessons. She also noted, as a parent first, she was quite confident in the school’s active role in assuring all students received the quality education expected by all stakeholders.
All of these topics had one thing in common; the background investigation process to vet faculty and staff before they can physically work in the school building. In some cases, candidates are currently awaiting the final all clear to start their positions at Lanham ES, while one teacher was hired and started yesterday. Captain John Bushey articulated those issues were not necessarily the school’s fault, but a function of the system all the way up to the Department of Defense as his organization faces the same dilemma in their hiring process.
Dr. D’Angelo was also faced with some concerns he acknowledged, and guaranteed further exploration to resolve the topics of concern.
Drs. Bloom and Bailey closed the symposium with a vow to return to NAF Atsugi in a few months to host another open discussion, in addition to creating an After-Action Report to formally note all concerns discussed and address them accordingly. In the meantime, parents were encouraged to continue effectively communicating with their child’s teacher, schools administrators, and School Liaison Officer, Hannah McCarthy.