JHS Students Told To Turn On Cameras During Distance Learning Classes

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JAMESTOWN – In one of his first acts as full-time principal at Jamestown High School, Dana Williams warned his students that many of them need to change their actions during Zoom class time.

Williams was moved from interim principal to principal at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

In a social media post, Williams warned students that they need to have their cameras on during Zoom classes and need to interact with classmates and instructors. He warned that just logging in and not taking part is no recipe for success.

Williams said only 16.8 percent of students had their cameras active last semester and that 86.3 percent of those students had grades of 75 or higher.

He said that 82.9 of all students did not have their cameras on during class and that more than 40 percent of those students had grades below 65 and that 45.5 percent of those students did not interact with classmates or teachers.

“We’re looking at hard numbers,” not just opinions, Williams stressed.

“We’ve tried allowing people not to have their cameras on and it hasn’t worked,” Williams said. “A lot of you failed because you are not engaging with your classes.”

With cameras on, Williams said teachers can see nonverbal signals that their student’s may not be comprehending the lesson and can interact with those students to more clearly deliver the lessons.

Williams warned students that they are now expected to have their camera’s activated and engage with classmates and the teacher during classes. If this doesn’t happen, school officials will address the problem with parents.

“A lot of you say ‘I just woke up and I’m not out of bed yet and I don’t want my camera on.’ That’s not an excuse. In the regular school year you’ve got to get up, get ready and get to school. Do the same thing when you have an online class,” he said.

Just logging in and then doing something else will not work or lead to success, Williams stressed.

“Some of you are playing on your phones, playing video games, you’re not paying attention and it shows. You’re not passing your classes, you are not going to be successful,” he said. “The ones who are going to suffer are yourselves because just logging on is not enough to pass your class.”

He told students to “suck it up. You do what you need to do. You’re very, very capable, You can do this.”

Williams was acting interim principal until Tuesday, when he was named officially full-time principal.

“I am pleased to welcome Mr. Williams as, now officially, our new high school principal,” said JPS Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker. “ He has shown himself to be an advocate for students, and to have an ability to work with staff members and parents alike. His commitment to JHS is what we need from a leader, and I look forward to many years working with him to make our high school the best possible environment for learning.”

Williams graduated from Jamestown Community College, received his bachelor’s degree at SUNY Brockport in Communications, and his master’s degree at St. Bonaventure University in School Counseling. Williams also has his NYS School Administration/Supervision (SAS) Certification.

“I’m extremely proud to be principal at Jamestown High School and thank Dr. Whitaker, Mrs. Sandstrom, and the Board of Education for giving me this opportunity,” said Mr. Williams. “Having been part of this city and community for many years, I’m fully committed to helping this school improve and our young people to succeed.”


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