Glendale American School Principal Dr. Amy Troutt

Glendale American School Principal Dr. Amy Troutt said the building’s kindness tree mural gives the staff and students a “sense of belonging.”

Glendale American School Principal Dr. Amy Troutt hasn’t seen a school year like this one, but it’s not the typical answer.

“This may sound weird to say, but it’s been one of the best years yet,” said Troutt, whose school opened to hybrid learning in October.

In a hybrid learning model, half of the school’s students attended at a time. Students with last names starting with A-L arrived Monday and Thursday, and those with last names starting with M-Z came Tuesday and Friday. Parents were asked to send students to school after 7:20 a.m. and to pick them up by 1 p.m.

On Monday, March 22, Glendale American School, like many other schools, returned to full in-person learning.

“We had the chance to practice with half students,” Troutt added. “It’s gone so smoothly. Before the gate opened, I had more students on campus, which is typical for a first day of school — a third first day of school, that is. 

“I was out front, just hanging out with the kids, and naturally they’re standing 6 feet apart. They were bright and happy and ready to go. The last year has changed their world. They get it. They understand the world has changed. Kids are just OK with that. They’re excited and wanting to be here.”

When she full in-person learning to her educators, she added, “They just looked at me and said, ‘We got this.’”

“It’s been so cool. Our educators are doing good things every day.”

The staff’s acceptance is a testament to Troutt’s work ethic, but she noted they make her better. 

“One of the beautiful things about the last year is I had more time with my classified staff, maintenance, educational assistance, crossing guards, etc.,” she added. “It’s been really unique. I was able to do some cool things for the schools. We have a kindness tree as our mural. 

“My vision was I wanted a cool wall that the whole school could be a part of. They need to have a sense of belonging. They drew it into this beautiful tree. Every student and staff member can go to the wall and celebrate kindness. We still have work to do, of course, but we’re bringing the kids and the teachers together.”

Students regularly share their feelings on a silver lining wall and, Troutt said, the resounding opinions are they’re happy to have returned to school.

“Everybody has the opportunity to find that silver lining,” she added. “We have so many of them. I think our kids have found them, too. They say they really like going to school. 

“It’s just been a cool opportunity. I understand the pandemic is not an ‘opportunity.’ We can spin that and think of the good things that have come out of it. That’s important.”

Since March 22, Troutt has been pleased with the technology utilized in every classroom, saying it’s “part of the norm” and it has “blended very fluidly.”

“It’s been great to see how much the teachers have learned and attitudes of, ‘We’re here to support and love our kids from couch to classroom,” she added.

Troutt said the staff and students were ready to go through the mitigation process. Troutt described the district as being “blessed,” in the way the mitigation process has fleshed out. As parents reached out to her about the full in-person learning, there was a “very consistent message that was written out. Our parents have been very comfortable.

“Even with masks on, just to see the smiles and the eyes light up in every grade level was worth it,” she said. “Our staff also wants to be here.

“While everything has been so challenging, through the support of the school district, parents, teachers, kids, everyone pulled together and said, ‘This is what it’s going to be. Make it happen.’”