When the calendar changes to October, it reminds us that fall is underway, bringing all of the wonderful changes that come with the new season: cooler weather, scents of pumpkin pies and images of vibrant autumn colors. Our students are now settled into their new school year with established routines, new friendships and fresh learning.

As I walk through our schools and talk with students and staff, I hear and feel positive energy and see so many bright smiles, positive nods and “aha” moments. We’ve nearly completed the first grading period of the school year. Clubs and sports are in full swing, and our students are working to excel in their academics.

In our classrooms, we continue to promote lifelong learning by using instructional methods that ensure our students thrive and develop as whole individuals in addition to academic superstars. The Volusia County Schools’ student experience includes support systems to provide extra academic support for students when needed, as well as extra challenges for those who excel. Our teachers and staff work hard to develop positive relationships with students. Our principals, staff and teachers view safety, belonging and appreciating each other as key to ensuring strong academic outcomes and student well-being.

I’d like to share with you a few activities that expand learning both inside and outside the classroom during the month of October.

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. This is a special time in which we explore and honor the rich history, culture, achievements and sacrifices of Hispanic people. Events on our campuses include special music, food and art exhibits, along with learning about literature, traditions and individuals that honor and highlight our Hispanic culture. Many of our students are sharing their family’s cultural history and customs as well so that their classmates can appreciate the richness of Hispanic culture.

During October, we also recognize “National Bullying Prevention Month” and highlight the importance of kindness and inclusivity through our Schools of Character campaign focusing on anti-bullying. Embedded in many of the academic lessons are discussions about the power of empathy, acceptance, serving as an upstander and respecting the differences of all people. Knowing that students can only learn in a positive, supportive environment, our staff is working especially hard this month to make students aware of bullying, its consequences and reporting protocols. We want every student every day to feel safe, included and valued.

I am so grateful to have you all as part of our community. Together, we are helping our students become lifelong learners who are kind, empathetic individuals who believe in themselves and value and respect others. Thank you for collaborating with us, for sharing your experiences in our classrooms, and for supporting a love of learning in your homes. Wishing you all of you a safe and happy fall!

Dr. Carmen J. Balgobin
Superintendent of Schools