JENKS, Okla. — Jenks Public Schools is rolling into the new school year by rolling out a new Freshman Academy.
"Our Freshman Academy is our last building on our last site to be renovated," says Jenks Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stacey Butterfield.
Construction crews are finishing up the second of a three-phase project. This summer, they've added 11 new classrooms and a technology center.
"It is more space and just renovating the older sections of this building to bring them up to the Jenks standard," Butterfield says.
These aren't the only classrooms where students will notice a difference this year. Butterfield says the classroom experience should feel more personal too.
"In COVID, there was less collaborative work. There was less small group work. We are anxious to get back to what we know is best practice in how we work in our classrooms with our students."
The school district will also use a new tool, the Rave Panic Button, as part of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's executive order on school safety.
"Essentially, what it does is push a button, and it dials 911," Butterfield says.
The app is new to the district, but school safety is something Jenks focused on for a long time. Millions in bond dollars have gone to safety. The school has its own police force and 1,200 surveillance cameras keeping watch over the district's ten campus sites.
"School safety is our number one priority. Because we know the research, our students have to feel safe in order to reach their potential. Our employees need to feel safe in order to be as effective as they can possibly be," Butterfield says.
Hiring is another top priority. "The teacher shortage is real," she says.
"We're recruiting differently in the past. We are using our people to reach out to their friends, maybe who they taught within other locations or who they have gone to school with. We have recruited those who have retired thinking they were maybe finished and recruited a few back."
Flexible schedules and job sharing are also options for some positions. Like the construction, it's a work in progress, but Butterfield says Jenks is ready and excited for the students about to fill the halls.
"We are approaching 13,000 students, and we want all of our students to have a unique experience," she says. "They all have unique stories, they have different ideas about what school should look like and what they want to do in life, and we want to meet them where they are and move them forward."
School starts Aug. 18 for Jenks students. You can learn more about the district here.
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