Hollymead Elementary School

Hollymead Elementary School shares a campus with Sutherland Middle School in the heart of the Hollymead subdivision off of 29 North. Hollymead is a rectangular building with tidy and orderly halls and classrooms. Recent renovations have updated the library and enhanced an interior courtyard with entrances from the library, art room and hallway. The courtyard can be used as an auxiliary classroom space– and already is in heavy use by the art teacher.
When asked about challenges particular to Hollymead, Principal Teel, who happens to have been my first grade teacher, enlightened me about the challenges of managing morning arrival of over 500 students who arrive in a variety of methods.
Each morning 9 school staff and an Albemarle County sheriff are responsible for varying arrival points. There are multiple crosswalks that must be supervised for walking students crossing streets. Those streets are busy with cars and buses transporting other students. Adding to the fray are students who ride bikes to school. In about 30 minutes 500 kindergarteners through fifth graders enter the building, and make their way to their classrooms.
Unanticipated challenges can arise, and must be dealt with sensitively. Several years ago new rules about dogs had to be implemented because of safety concerns. Some children were afraid of other families’ dogs, and in their agitation could put themselves at risk. Other issues arose from dogs in cars acting aggressively as school personnel helped students exit. One protective dog bit a school worker who was helping a student during arrival. These incidents resulted in having to institute policies about dogs. Now walked dogs must stop at a distance from a school, and cars containing dogs have to park, and the parent must walk the child to the building.
Issues such as these must be handled sensitively. School personnel have to deal with such complicated and fraught situations regularly. During my conversations with principals, we’ve discussed such things as custody and visitation disagreements and feuding families. Schools have the mission of educating students, but they are also charged with protecting children and the learning environment. It likely doesn’t occur to the average person that part of that stewardship involves setting policy about family pets, and negotiating changing family status.

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