Last updated: August 26. 2014 10:09AM - 249 Views
By - cwasmundt@civitasmedia.com

Caitlyn Wasmundt | Civitas MediaEarly Childhood Education instructor Hilary Duffala welcomes her students back to class.
Caitlyn Wasmundt | Civitas MediaEarly Childhood Education instructor Hilary Duffala welcomes her students back to class.
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A mass of 1,043 students passed through the doors Monday for the first day at the Lorain County Joint Vocational School.

Principal Jill Petitti said seeing the students come back from summer break is her favorite part of the school year.

Though a lot of what is happening at the 10-acre campus is business as usual, Petitti said there will be some changes this year, with a main focus on a curriculum and testing shift.

Schools statewide are switching to the Common Core, a standard set of expectations for exactly what students need to know at each grade level.

Petitti said teachers have already made great strides at making the switch. Now the focus is on the career-technical programs, which will switch to the Professional Pathways Program.

Teachers have gone through in-services and administrators have called in consultants to help prepare students for the workforce as soon as they graduate.

The school is also offering more electives for students to take this year and will give a college-like model.

“It’s a different way of thinking for students,” Petitti said.

The school’s funding from the Ohio Department of Education will also have a slight change: Instead of reporting student attendance weekly, Petitti said teachers and administrators will have to track students on a daily basis.

All freshman last year were given Apple iPads to do their schoolwork and use as textbooks.

This year will build off that plan except it’s not only ninth-graders who get tablets but sophomores too. The technology initiative is expected to go schoolwide next year, Petitti said.

Another program Petitti said she’s happy to offer students again is an anti-bullying initiative.

Students can call or e-mail the principal anonymously if they are being picked on or witness some else being bullied.

The messages go directly to Petitti’s phone but the sender’s contact info is blocked.

“You never know what it’s going to lead to,” she said.

Over the years, bullying in school has gone down, Petitti said. She credits the school’s zero-tolerance attitude toward bullies.

Students will also be more acquainted this year with the school’s uniform policies.

Though there are no changes to what students can wear, Petitti said she’s heard positive feedback from both students and parents.

Problems with dress code violations also decreased last year, she said.

Caitlyn Wasmundt may be reached at 440-647-3171 or on Twitter @LC_CaitW.

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