MILTON — There are a few things parents and students should expect when starting the new school year in Santa Rosa County.

“We would like to welcome our students back for the start of another great school year,” Assistant Superintendent Bill Emerson said. “The Santa Rosa County School District is thriving and growing, with high expectations for our students and the schools they attend. We celebrate our return to district rating of A and praise our students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other school staff for this accomplishment.” 

The Santa Rosa County School District encourages students and parents who are new to the district to be actively involved in their schools and provide questions and input, officials said.

“We are confident you will soon agree with us that Santa Rosa County is a wonderful place to be,” Emerson said.

This academic year, students will continue participating in the STEAM Innovate program throughout all grade levels and all schools in the county. This program was implemented in primary and secondary schools last year but will be expanding to high schools this year. The curriculum focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. 

“This year, all of our schools in grades K-12 will be participating in our curriculum redesign using STEAM Innovate to train cadres of teachers and administrators in how to better educate our students for the world they will face in the future,” Emerson said. “We partner with Discovery Education to help transform the way students learn and think and the way teachers set up their classrooms and deliver instruction. 

According to Emerson, the Santa Rosa County School District is the only district nationwide to partner with Discovery Education at all grade levels and in every school.

“We wish to create a culture of critical thinking, collaboration, exploration and problem solving,” Emerson said. “We want our students and teachers to try new things without a fear of failure. In our schools, FAIL just means First Attempt In Learning! Because of this philosophy, we believe our students and staff will eclipse all established boundaries and take our school system to new heights.”

Other than the STEAM program, new things coming this year to schools within the county are: the DriveCam Safety Program, Blab TV broadcast training and classroom only driver’s education.

The DriveCam Safety Program is a video-based coaching and safety program that uses a palm-sized event recorder that identifies certain bus driving behaviors; it is designed to capture short video clips when activated by unusual driving events such as hard braking, sudden acceleration, swerving or excessive speed.

The school district entered an agreement with Blab TV, a television station out of Pensacola, for the company to provide services to local schools at no cost to the board. The services include coverage of football games and other sports, a weekly high school showcase and broadcast training for students interested in learning those skills.

Pete Moore Chevrolet of Pensacola will no longer supply vehicles for Santa Rosa County School District drivers’ education course, due to the risk of students driving on public roads, according to the dealership. This school year, the county will only offer the classroom portion of the class — known as the lab — which includes curriculum taught from textbooks and other resources.

“As our district mission statement indicates, we want to prepare students for success by providing a superior, relevant education,” Emerson said. “The only way to achieve this goal is to embrace the highly technical and ever changing world in which our students live each day.