In 2022, public schools are providing more than classroom lessons in reading, writing & arithmetic

Ben Tierney is the Director of Communications & Family Engagement for Bay City Public Schools. 

I wish I could write a 2021 recap from the perspective of a public school system without using the words “COVID-19,” “masks,” “staff shortage,” “test to stay,” “canceled,” or the host of other words and phrases associated with public education these past two years. So let’s get that out of the way first: Yes, we’ve dealt with these challenges. No, they do not define us.

If anything, the pandemic has placed a spotlight on what matters most: The education and well being of the students we serve.

Bay City Public Schools buildings re-opened in the fall of 2021 after the majority of the 2020-21 school year was spent in a virtual environment. The virtual format forced educators and administrators to quickly shift and learn best practices for teaching in front of a camera, beamed into kitchens and living rooms via Chromebooks. This learning period and the ongoing pandemic also led to the launch of a K-12 virtual school for Bay City Public Schools, which several families have taken advantage of.

Extracurricular activities help kids develop social and emotionaskills, leadership skills, and create positive memories.Missing out on sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities for nearly an entire school year gave us a deeper understanding of how important these programs are. We watched this fall as the Bay City Central girl’s volleyball team earned their first district title since 2010. The theatre program put on an incredible showing of “Bring it On: The Musical” in September. Our Western Warriors football program delivered their best season in 13 years, complete with two instant-classic matchups against rival Midland Dow.

These and other extracurricular experiences develop social and emotional growth, leadership skills, and positive memories that help shape students into successful young adults.

School administrators are not health experts, and it is difficult to predict what if any new pandemic mitigation mandates will come as we deal with increasing COVID-19 cases this winter. It is no secret to say that opinions vary on these efforts, but Bay City Public Schools will continue to follow the advice of health experts and do all we can to safely maintain a face-to-face learning environment and extracurricular programming. 

One of the highlights of 2021 was the completion of a 5-year strategic plan document, which will help shape the future of Bay City Public Schools. Five focus areas were identified: Academics, Personnel/Leadership, Facilities/Operations, Learning Environment, and Communication. Families and staff can expect to see growth and positive change in these areas. 

One lesson from the pandemic is the importance of extracurricular activities.The most recent example is our partnership with New Tech Network, a project-based learning model that will be implemented at T.L. Handy Middle School in the 2022-23 school year, redesigning the teaching and learning model for Handy with an innovative curriculum.

Despite challenges, the educators and support staff at Bay City Public Schools have done an incredible job keeping the focus on students. There is plenty to be hopeful and excited about.