Along with the nearly completed school renovations, students will also begin the school year with a new principal.
Principal Troy Czukoski, who has been in the education industry for 20 plus years, comes from the Phoenixville School District where he was a middle school principal for seven years and then moved up to the district office before coming to .
"I really enjoyed the work (at Phoenixville). I learned a lot and it was great innovative work. However, I found that I was losing touch with what I got into education for in the first place...I wanted to get back to being a principal," Czukoski said.
Former Principal Dr. Joyce Jeuell retired in June.
Czukoski said the transition has been smooth and his first few weeks were spent getting to know the administration, the school, parents, students, board and community members.
"I asked a lot of people what are the 'glows,' what can you tell me that's great about your experiences at Springton Lake and then what are the 'grows' from your perspective," he said. "That has helped to give me a sense of the things that are working well that we want to continue and improve, and then what are the areas that need to be fixed either immediately or throughout an appropriate process."
Teachers popped in to Czukoski's office to say goodbye before the Labor Day weekend and it was nothing but praise and excitement from each of them. One teacher was heard saying to Czukoski, "you really put our minds at ease."
Czukoski, who is married with three children, said he likes that RTM has a town in the community.
"It really allows things to be tied together," he said. "I also like the fact that we are surrounded by several suburban municipalities so you maintain that neighborhood concept."
The , have been the biggest hurdle that Czukoski has had to deal with so far but he was assured that the majority of the work would be completed by the first day of school.
"What's impressive to me...is that the district and the community have had the vision to create a 21st century based facility for middle school students," Czukoski said.
In many communities, he said, the majority of district resources are put into the high schools because they are the flagship or elementary schools because of first impressions but often times the middle schools are left out.
"Looking at national trends, middle schools are kind of the neglected middle child and the fact that Rose Tree Media moved ahead with great vision for young, adolescent students is great," Czukoski said.
Czukoski expected that touch-ups, some cosmetic items and some landscaping would not be completed by the first day of school but operationally the school would be ready to go for the students.
The faculty is also primed and ready to use all of the new technology and innovations at the renovated middle school, he said.
First Day of School
The first day of school always involves logistics, Czukoski said, ensuring safe student arrival and no construction interference.
"The important thing about the first day is getting students with their teachers," he said. "The first week we'll see a variety of activities, mostly for the 6th grade, as they transition to middle school. The 7th and 8th graders will pretty much get down to business almost from day one."
One policy which Czukoski plans to stress is the importance of anti-bullying. The entire faculty has signed a large anti-bullying poster and the student body will be asked to sign it as well and it will hang in the main lobby.
"So much of middle school is about visual and verbal reminders and re-teaching not just academics but social and emotional types of aspects to the program," he said.
Czukoski said often times schools are blamed for the epidemic of bullying and if he could change anything about the education system as a whole, it would be to get the entire community, not just the schools, involved with fixing the problem.
"I really believe that it's a societal or community issue," he said. "We all need to be invested in school-age bullying and I think that until we really tackle bullying as a community and society in general, we won't be as successful as I think we could be."
Czukoski, who has a child entering middle school in the West Chester area, said he doesn't have the easy answer as to how to stop bullying but the whole community, along with schools, needs to work together.
He said middle school-age students are often known as being at "that age" but Czukoski believes it to be a powerful age.
"When folks actually get an opportunity to be a part of a middle school, they are just blown away with the age group and the types of things you can do with this age group," he said, "because they are really still in transition and they are very much young children who are starting to reach and want to explore those adult themes. It's just a very powerful age to work with and try to mentor and guide."
He said middle school is about exposing kids to as much as possible as far as the arts and technology and athletics, so when they enter high school they may have an idea of where to concentrate those efforts.
"It's all about giving students the opportunity to express their voice in a variety of ways," he said.