FLINT, MI – Students in Jared Emmerling’s eighth-grade social studies class were greeted by a YouTube hip-hop/trap instrumental with Rick and Morty art video playing, a pencil and a piece of paper on the first day back to school.

Emmerling, or Mr. “E,” asked each student what their expectations were for him, what he should be expecting from them and what their favorite hobby is to begin instruction.

The first-year teacher took roll at Holmes STEM Academy alongside many other Flint Community Schools teachers Wednesday morning as the district returned to the classroom for a half day on Aug. 3.

Entering the second full school year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, staff and students at Flint schools were for the first time able to take off the masks if they choose to do so.

Masks are still recommended, and many staff and students opted to wear them, but it is no longer required, according to an announcement from administration last month.

Teachers and staff will attend a school year kickoff event at the Whiting Auditorium on Thursday, Aug. 4, where they will hear speeches from Superintendent Kevelin Jones and Board of Education President Joyce Ellis-McNeal.

Visits to multiple schools on the first day back and a pep-rally-type event for staff on Thursday is all about building excitement and establishing the right culture for the district, Jones said.

He emphasized the importance of supporting the “whole child” on the first day back, along with the district’s newly approved strategic plan.

“It’s about the whole child and focusing on the whole child. You are not just focusing on academics, you’re focusing on the social emotional support that is needed,” Jones said. “I’m just anticipating a great school year.”

Enrollment remains steady around the 3,000 to 3,100 mark, Jones said, but an official count will take place on count day in October.

At Thursday’s event, staff will learn of building renovations, parking lot improvements, goals set out in the strategic plan and more, Jones said.

Carla Roberts-Caudle, a 25-year veteran instructor at Holmes, said the students’ energy helps set the tone for the upcoming semester.

“We’re looking to connect with (students) physically, emotionally and academically,” she said. “Especially with working through the crisis that we’ve had to encounter with virtual school, learning loss and our lead issue in the city of Flint.”

Thanks to the Flint Community Schools balanced calendar, the district starts at the beginning of August instead of the end of the month, when more schools across the county typically start.

It uses a balanced calendar to minimize learning loss by cutting time out of summer for intersessions during the school year.

A full calendar for the 2022-23 school year is available on the Flint schools website.

Read more at The Flint Journal:

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Election results for Aug. 2, 2022 primary in Genesee County

New Swartz Creek schools superintendent’s vision is to bring district from ‘good to great’

Flint school board candidate slate will host ‘Meet and Greet’ events throughout August

Wildlife, kayaking returning to 25-mile stretch of Flint River after dam removal

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‘Great school year’ anticipated after first day of Flint 2022-23 academic year

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