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Inside Scoop With What’s Going on in McMahon

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After being in school for over two months, students may notice that there were new systems being introduced or more utilized this year. 

Recently we talked to Principal Barbara Wood to gain a better understanding of these systems and what to expect this year. 

Ms. Wood has been the principal for Brien McMahon for about two years now. “As the principal, I’m in charge of everything. At the end of the day, everything starts and stops with me. Ultimately I have a responsibility for the building and its entirety,” says Ms. Wood.

  You may see her have been working side-by-side continuously with administrators/teachers to help ensure a successful school year. “There are five assistant principals, they each oversee different aspects of the school and teachers,” said Ms. Wood.  You may see them walking around the hallways, checking out your classes, or talking in assemblies. This year’s assistant principals are Lashante James (9th grade), A.J. Albano (11th grade), Jonathan Lake (9th and 10th grade), Shirley Ithier (10th grade), and Qadir Abdus-Salaam(12th grade). 

One way Ms. Wood and the administration keep everything on track for this school year is “to have a distributive leadership approach.”  

“This is important to me because I can’t do it all so that’s when you rely on your team. Your team can report to me, so on Friday mornings, I have my leadership team so we can review anything.” 

One of the many things Ms. Wood and her team are working on this year is attendance. As many of you may have noticed, there’s a different shift when it comes to attendance this year. “Even though I am not out there every morning writing tardy slips, I expect a weekly report on where we are in terms of student attendance.”

“I have to look at all that because ultimately I’m responsible for students’ attendance. It is one of the things the state looks at really in depth.” 

Some ways they execute the attendance policy this year is by breaking it down by class and also comparing tardies and absences (excused vs unexcused) that occur with students. 

In order to fix attendance with students this year the attendance committee held interviews with around 90 students who are continually absent/tardy to gain a better understanding. With these interviews, they learned that “some of the kids didn’t have a reliable transit rotation to school. We found kids that had family babysitting responsibilities that prevented them from getting to school on time or leaving school early all the time.” 

However, the administration continues to face different challenges this year such as the national teacher shortage that is happening. “In Connecticut and across the nation there is a teacher shortage,” said Ms. Wood. According to WeAreTeachers.com, “In a 2022 Gallup Poll, teaching was the top profession for burnout in the United States.” 

“That’s something that keeps me up at night. Not having a high-quality teacher in a classroom. It’s something I have been struggling with last year and this year. We’ve done a pretty good job. I joke that last year I had one 90-minute period where I was fully staffed but other than that I have been in continuous hiring.”  

This is a huge challenge that is happening right now considering that we have around 2000 students in this school.

In order to ensure that every 2000 students in our school have a successful school year over the year Brien McMahon adopted a new slogan over the summer. Every Student. Everyday. “This means we can’t be satisfied even if there’s one student behind. I want every student to come here every day on time. But every day students need to leave this school prepared for their life after school. We want to make sure that’s happening to everyone.”

This year this school’s approach to handling or viewing things is surrounded by the new slogan. 

This slogan can be connected back to the IB program at our school. “We have the IB Diploma and Career program. We are becoming an IB Middle Years Program. Part of our philosophy is IB for all, the reason, why we are pushing, is because there’s a rigor that comes with that. We want all students to be prepared for(the rigor).”

Even if you aren’t signed up for any of the IB Programs the school is adapting to the IB Middle Years program. This isn’t a curriculum. It’s just the same approaches that we may see in IB classes used in different classes that aren’t a part of the IB Program. According to the International Baccalaureate, “The MYP aims to help students develop their personal understanding, their emerging sense of self and responsibility in their community.”  

“Students grades 9-10 will be exposed to the IB approaches in teaching and learning, in preparation to engage in those courses in grades 11 and 12,”  Ms. Wood stated. 

Speaking of new things happening at our school, many may notice that there are more students at Brien McMahon compared to the previous years. “When we have a lot of students, we need a lot of systems that are very tight.” This can connect back to the different systems that were mentioned earlier. “We’re not going to ever think everyone’s going to love the systems, but for management of the size of the school, they’re really important.  

“So I have to put more of an emphasis on the need to make sure that these systems are not just in place, but are being utilized, like with the passes and things like that because with that number of kids, there is much more opportunity for issues to arise. But the tighter our systems are, the less likely that is to happen.” 

Even with all the challenges or brand new things that are occurring here at Brien McMahon, administrators are continuously working side by side with students and teachers to ensure everyone is having a successful school year. 

To push for a better school year for students Ms. Wood empathizes, “try to involve yourself in the community, you know, whether it’s in a club activity, sport, drama, music, those are the things that you’re going to remember.”

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About the Contributor
Conny Galvez, Editor-in-Chief
Hello Senators! My name is Conny and this is my third year working at the McMahon Archive. My friends and I helped start up this newspaper in order to bring back school spirit at McMahon. I am currently a senior here and part of CYL as well. I serve as a photographer for the McMahon and enjoy mostly taking photos of sports. I currently enjoy listening to ABBA and watching Criminal Minds during my free time.

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