Teachers greet students on their buses as they arrive for the first day of school at Bakerfield Elementary School in Aberdeen Tuesday, September 6, 2022. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)
School buses rolled through a fall-like rainstorm Tuesday morning as summer came to an official end for students returning to class in Harford County Public Schools.
The school system welcomed about 38,000 students and 5,000 teachers and staff this school year. The school system will have 34 elementary schools, nine middle schools and 10 high schools in session.
The school system has started this school year with no teacher vacancies, said Superintendent Sean Bulson. Also, bus and bell schedules remain the same for the 2022-23 school year.
“We are excited, but we have much work to make sure students finish this year academically strong,” Bulson said. “I feel like our staff is ready and we have had a lot of work over summer with summer school and training for staff. We are energized and ready to go.”
Bulson began the new school year with the students and families of Bakerfield Elementary School for the Million Father March, a nationwide event designed for fathers and other male role models to show support for the education of children by escorting them to school.
Bulson as well as the students and families of Bakerfield Elementary School marched through a driving rainstorm to Aberdeen High School’s parking lot. They went on to cross West Bel Air Avenue and head toward the Aberdeen food truck park.
Then, the group left the park to cross West Bel Air Avenue and walked down Baker Street to the far parking lot where the march ended. As students got off the bus, they were greeted by teachers, staff and family.
“Thinking about the weather, we could have not had the turnout, but seeing the amount of parents that came out to show their support is incredible,” said Tara Dedeaux, principal of Bakerfield Elementary School. “I think the kids seeing [education] matters to [parents] lets them know how much education needs to matter in their lives.”
The elementary school came up with the idea of hosting a Million Father March years ago after seeing the statistics of how impactful a male/father figure is to a child’s life, Dedeaux said.
“I think when the kids see us and see their families as well their male role models and teachers who support them, it gets them excited to start the school year,” said Christina McGee, Title I teacher specialist at Bakerfield Elementary School.
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Bakerfield Elementary strives to establish that school is a safe and happy place for students, Dedeuax said.
“Our motto is to choose happy,” Dedeaux said. " We want everyone to come in everyday and find their happy place because we are going to do everything we can to bring happy to the kids.”
Overall, the school system is looking forward to having a full year without distractions or disruptions, Bulson said. Although last year was the first year of in-person instruction since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the school system still had many disruptions throughout the year that caused some schools to close for short periods, Bulson said.
“There’s no such thing as a normal school year, but we are looking for the best ever,” Bulson said. “I think we have the right staff in place.”
This year, Harford County Public Schools has started the initiative Ask HCPS, which is focused on customer service, Bulson said. The school system has created a website to support employees, students, parents/guardians and the larger community.
Ask HCPS is a new general contact method for all public school-related inquiries. Contact can be made at AskHCPS@hcps.org or (410) 809-6193.