‘It’s about acceleration’: CMS teachers excited to welcome students back into the classroom

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools math teacher Jenny Nelson was excited to show off her classroom Friday, and just outside of it, she got choked up when talking about meeting her students during a recent open house.

“To see their faces come in, and to see a classroom set up and ready for them is beyond anything you can imagine. I’m going to get teary, their faces just lit up,” she said.

That joy was apparent from everyone Channel 9′s Elsa Gillis met at the new CMS North Academy of World Languages, including Chinese exploratory teacher Prudence Brooks, who taught remotely last year.

“I’m so excited ‘cause it’s been so long. We didn’t get to teach students face to face,” Brooks said.

“I’m extremely hopeful and optimistic about what lies ahead for this upcoming school year,” CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said.

CMS staff and Winston are preparing for a very different start this year compared to last. Gillis asked him about his concern surrounding students starting the year behind.

“We are always concerned about student achievement and it is our expectation because we have a very strong and solid teaching force that all of our teachers have been prepared, have built their capacity to meet the needs of all of our students,” Winston said.

That’s something Nelson touched on too as she grew emotional about their return.

“We’re going to continue to provide a space that is safe for them, that they feel loved and we’re going to meet them where they are. It’s not about remediation, it’s about acceleration,” Nelson said.

CMS officials said they assessed students considered “at-risk” at the end of last year to know where they stand, and support for those who need it will be available.

Winston said more information about specific initiatives is coming, and federal COVID-19 dollars are helping with the need.

Officials also gave an update on what happens if a child has to quarantine.

“We do have a plan for when students are not in our schools for a set period of time. We do have those support systems that will be put into place,” said Dr. Matt Hayes, with CMS.

More information will be released at the upcoming Tuesday night board meeting about how students will continue to learn in case they have to quarantine.

(Watch Below: CDC recommends masks be worn in schools regardless of vaccination status)