Senior High, middle school emphasize security, instructional time

Mansfield Senior High principal Marinise Harris, who was a hall monitor in the old high school building before going on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, looks over class schedules in her office.

      Mansfield Senior High School and Mansfield Middle School will impose tighter restrictions on student movement in the building this year and take other steps for security and to maximize teachers’ instructional time.

      First-year principals Marinise Harris at Senior High and Jason Douglas at the middle school said control of students’ movement will begin when they enter the building starting at around 7:05 a.m.

      Senior High students will go directly to the commons area for a 20-minute breakfast period while middle school students are directed to the gymnasium. At approximately 7:25 a.m. high school students will be dismissed to go to their lockers before classes start at 7:35 a.m. Middle school students then will enter the commons area for a 20-minute breakfast period.

      “Safety is a top priority,” said Harris, a 1992 Senior High graduate. “Our school resource officer was at the front of the building on Friday showing staff how middle and high school students will enter the building. No students will be wandering the halls.”

      Access to lockers will not be permitted between each class this year.

      Harris said Senior High students will have four opportunities to visit their lockers during the school day: immediately after breakfast, before and after lunch and at the end of the school day.

      On the middle school side, Douglas, also a Senior High graduate, said students will report to their first-period classes after breakfast where teachers will allow them to go to their lockers to get all materials they will need until lunch. Middle schoolers will be permitted to go to their lockers again before and after lunch and after their last class.

      “There will be some time differences between the high school and us early in the day but by mid morning we will on the same bell schedule,” Douglas said.

      “For safety and security, our goal is to limit kids’ access to other parts of the building and keep the halls as clear as possible,” said Mansfield Police Department Officer Matthew Brewster, the new resource officer. 

      Superintendent Stan Jefferson said the emphasis is on rigorous education.

      “We are trying to maximize instructional time. We want to get students into classrooms for rigorous and relevant instruction. That, combined with building relationships, will set the stage for academic achievement,” Jefferson said.

      “Rigorous, relevant, relationships – those are the new Three R’s of education.”

      This year teachers will be relieved of the duty to document tardiness.

      “When classes start, the teachers will close their doors. Students who didn’t get there on time will have to visit one of the tardy stations set up by security personnel,” Harris said. “Security will issue a tardy slip and accompany the student to the classroom door and get the teacher’s attention. The student will then put the slip on the teacher’s desk and take a seat. Multiple tardy slips will mean detention.

      “This new process takes the tardy slip responsibility off teachers and saves instructional time.”

      Teachers and other staff often will be in the hallways during the four-minute break between classes.

      Expectations of all 7-12 students – including adherence to campus wear regulations -- are being explained during this week’s staggered start. On Monday, only seventh-graders and freshmen were in the building; on Tuesday it was eighth-graders and sophomores. 

      Only juniors and seniors will attend on Wednesday. Classes for all middle and high school students will be in session Thursday and Friday.

      “We expect all students to follow the rules, but I am pushing progressive discipline,” Harris said. “No one is perfect. And sometimes we don’t know the underlying issues. Why is a child late every morning? Are they babysitting a sibling? Problems sometimes start with what’s happening at home.”

      Harris said she plans to maintain regular contact with parents and others in the community, both in person and through telephone messages.

      “Students will be given more accountability,” she said. “We’re looking at rewarding students who are doing the right thing. Too often they are overshadowed by the small percentage who haven’t done the right thing.

      “Our motto this year is ‘If everyone does a little, no one has to do a lot,’” Harris said. “I already have had teachers come to me to ask what more they can do to help.

      “I believt we will have a very good year.”

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