BACK TO SCHOOL: Powers focuses on foundational skills

Beth Schwartz cried when she said goodbye to her Harris Elementary School staff this past spring.

Her third and fourth grade teachers will be at Nord Middle School this year, while Schwartz takes charge of prekindergarten through second grade at Powers Elementary, filling the shoes of retired principal Debbie Waller.

Harris will be torn down next month to make way for construction of a new Powers school on South Lake Street. In two years’ time, the old Powers on Washington Avenue will be demolished as well and Schwartz will have to say goodbye to another home.

With preschool through second grade all moved under the same roof for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, the aging Powers will be a bit crowded, “but we’ll make do,” Schwartz said.

Kindergartners and up will report for school on Aug. 28, while preschoolers will start Aug. 29.

To accommodate the many tiny learners, a trailer has been added to the rear of the building for art classes.

Kindergarten screening will be done at Steele this year. That’s where kids’ basic counting and language skills will be tested to give teachers an idea what areas need the most work.

A new language arts series this year will help in that endeavor. Schwartz said it’s been a long time since language curriculum was updated for Amherst’s youngest learners, and the new series aims to meet different kids at their reading levels, helping everyone get on board.

Reading and math are the key skills Powers kids must master. “We are that foundation. We want to make sure we’re giving the kids are getting those key skills so they’re strong when they move up,” Schwartz said.

Even though the building is marked for destruction, she said parents need to know it’s a safe, clean, and fun place for students.

Parents can learn more at an open house at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21. Schwartz said she also plans to send an email to parents at the start of the school year with a list of upcoming events as well as the student handbook, which will answer a lot of frequently-asked questions.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk

Powers Elementary

Principal: Beth Schwartz

Start time: 8:10 a.m. (building open) day begins at 8:30 a.m.

Release time: car riders at 3:15 p.m., bus riders board at 3:30 p.m.

Number of students: 730

Grades: PK-2