Benton Harbor celebrates strengthening school district

NOW: Benton Harbor celebrates strengthening school district

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Class is back in session at Benton Harbor as school officials work to keep the district open amidst the pandemic – and there is plenty to be excited about; a dedicated new superintendent, enrollment’s up and the district is fully staffed for its first time in years.

“It’s a process, this has never been done before and the fact that we’re getting it off the ground with very minimal error, I’m very happy,” said Superintendent Dr. Andrae Townsel.

Benton Harbor Area Schools made the decision earlier this summer to provide both E-learning and in-person options for kindergarten through eighth graders and do only virtual learning for its high schoolers this semester.

With day two under their belt, staff members say the virtual semester is off to a great start at the high school.

“We had a help desk set up for students with problems logging on to Google classroom and also we had a help desk for the teachers – we have new teachers here, this is a new experience for them,” said Reedell Holmes, Benton Harbor High School principal.

A new experience for those new teachers as the district no longer has vacant positions.

“We never have full staff at this time of the year, it’s always doubling up or long term subs so it’s a good start for Benton Harbor,” said Corey Sterling, a teacher at Benton Harbor High School and head basketball coach.

Plus, a surge in enrollment, after spending the summer hoping to recruit students back to the district.

“We’ve been accepting multiple young people from districts and charter schools in the area who want to come back roaring and be part of the new wave at Benton Harbor,” said Dr. Townsel.

Dr. Townsel also recognized the structure that is lost without face-to-face learning and has found creative ways to keep students motivated – like a music video just released which he, students and alumni all collaborated on.

Benton Harbor – confident this is the year they restore the roar.

“I don’t wish it was easier, I just wish I was better, I don’t wish for less challenge, I wish for more skill,” said Dr. Townsel. “I don’t wish for less problems, I wish for more wisdom - that’s the mentality for everybody here in Benton Harbor.”

The full music video can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/bentonharborareaschools/posts/179418626922559

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