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School is back in session!

I sympathize with all those students, I really do. For me, the return to school was always a mixed occasion. Happy to be occupied with something other than digging in dirt or, once I was older, a summer job, was great but having to get up that early...and..learn...things...gah.

But as an education reporter I gotta tell ya, I'm thrilled that school is back in session. Summer, as you can imagine is a pretty lean time for a schools reporter. And much like summer vacation, the first two weeks were bliss. After the hectic rigour of the last days of school, a little down time was welcomed.

Week three was a different story. Keeping my story count up -- it's all about quotas -- with no schools to visit, it's hard. So I wrote about camps, the environment, the occasional crime stuff. Still, it was a pale imitation of the school beat heyday that runs form August to May.

But all that's over now. School's back. I'm back. And I'm excited about the year.

Here are some things I'll be keeping an eye on...

Shelby Middle's new uniform policy - Looking good and at 99 percent compliance the first day, everyone's eyes are on this school. (Continuing updates as milestones are reached...)

Accountability Report - Looks like a lot of schools are getting it right. Great strides were made all over the county. Still, some fell short. Marion Intermediate and James Love had some disappointing numbers but already teachers are working on any number of ways to improve scores. There's a lot of teamwork going on in the school system these days -- and it's a great sight. It'll be interesting to see just how these efforts pan out. (You'll see more in the paper about this bevy of numbers and data.)

Freshman academies -Everyone wants to increase the graduation rate and reduce drop-outs but it's clear there's no magic key to getting it done. Area schools have been trying out a freshman academies. If a student understands expectations, there's a better chance they'll meet them. I'll be talking with schools about how this is working and what kind of strategies are being used.

What else should I be looking into?

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