Forum adds insights for district

HOPE – Hope Schools Superintendent Bobby Hart was on a mission Thursday night to learn something from the parents, students and stakeholders in the district.

Moderating an informational forum at Beryl Henry Elementary School, Hart asked some 60 attendees to help him define what grades 5-8 education in the Hope Public Schools should reflect.

“What do you want Beryl Henry Elementary School and the Hope Public Schools to look like?” Hart asked. “And, what are you willing to do to attain that?”

Throughout the hour-long session, Hart reminded his audience that the HPS should not reflect the national social divisions that currently define American life.

“We are, sometimes, our own worst enemy,” he said, noting that the richness of the diversity in America is not celebrated as it ought to be. “Our kids don’t deserve that.”

Hart reminded the audience that BHE was recently named among the top 6-10 percent of schools statewide in terms of academic growth within the past year.

“But, our kids are more than just test scores,” he said.

Hart said within 10-15 years, Hope and Hempstead County will be defined by the leadership which comes from the students now at BHE.

“I believe the future of our city, community, and schools is in good hands with you guys,” he told the students in the audience.

Hart facilitated a SWOT exercise that divided the crowd into four groups to determine the “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats” currently affecting BHE.

He said he was not surprised that “staff” and “students” were considered “strengths” of the campus, noting that the performance by the BHE 5-6 grade choir at the start of the evening demonstrated that point.

“Weaknesses” common to the group responses included “parent-teacher communication” and “student behavior;” while “opportunities” included enrichment activities that enhance “life skills” and technology acquisition.

Key “threats” included security and parental involvement.

“This is about our future,” Hart said.

He invited parents, students and other stakeholders to continue to share their concerns and ideas for reshaping the middle grades in the district by contacting him at online.