By Kellen M. Quigley

As classes resumed at the Springville-Griffith Institute school district this week, Superintendent Kimberly Moritz said they are “absolutely ready” and excited to have the students return.

“This is 30 years for me, and every year by the end of the summer, I cannot wait to see our staff and students return to school,” she said. “It always goes by quickly. I’m always amazed.”

Over the summer, work on the district’s ongoing capital improvement project continued, Moritz said, which is nearing completion after three years.

“We’ll still have some work that will continue into September and October, but for the most part, the project went really well,” she said. “We got the bulk of the work done, everything is on schedule and we’re really excited to have everyone come back and see how we’ve improved things.”

However, it hasn’t been much of a glamorous project, mostly concerning a lot of the “backbone of the district,” Moritz said.
“Parking lots, sidewalks, boilers and things such as that,” she continued. “Not a lot of spaces that the students get to see, but I think the most exciting thing kids will see are the lockers in the middle school.”

According to Moritz, the previous lockers had been there since that part of the building was built. She said they were so skinny, “you could only fit about one notebook in there.” But now there’s newer — and bigger — ones for students to use.

Construction of the district P-Tech Academy also continued over the summer. It isn’t scheduled to be opened until September of 2020, but Moritz said this summer’s work has been amazing to watch.

The program is in collaboration with Erie 2-Chautauqua Cattaraugus BOCES and Alfred State. Students from the surrounding communities would come to Springville to attend the P-Tech Academy and study to become an electrician or computer information specialist, Moritz said.

“They enter in ninth grade and graduate in five or six years with and Alfred State degree and a Regents diploma,” she said.
Also over the summer, SGI held its annual Camp Invention program for elementary-aged students. Moritz said she often hears that the camp is some of their best learning of the year.

“We have students here constantly for different things,” she added. “Our driver’s ed program was in full operation during the summer, and our athletes came back about two weeks ago. We’re always really happy to see our student-athletes return to us as well.”

Although students were around the campus the past couple months, Moritz said some staff was as well.

“Springville has an interesting year-round staff develop where teachers can seek out whatever they’re interesting in,” she said. “They study a lot of different things and I know that continued this summer as well.”

In the days leading up to classes beginning, Moritz said they tried something different than the traditional superintendents days most school districts hold at the end of August or beginning of September.

“Instead this year, I pledged to let all of our teachers self-select groups and self-select topics to study in service to what they do within the classroom,” she said. “I did it because we also have been studying how to give kids more agency and more say in their own learning. I thought if we’re asking teachers to do more project-based learning, I need to give up that control as superintendent and give teachers that kind of learning.”

As for the first days of school when students are back in the classroom, Moritz said they didn’t have anything particularly unique or out of the ordinary planned, hoping to help students get right into a routine and a preview of what they’ll be learning this year.
“I’m actually happy that we have some stability,” she said. “We’ve all been here together for a few years now. It’s a good time to be in Springville.”