I want to share something challenging that happened last week and, as I reflected on it over the weekend, I thought about the complexity of our commitment to the care of all kids. On the same day last week, we had two different families meet with us and advocate on behalf of their children. While both families would agree that the goal for our educators is to show up, care about all kids, and expertly teach them, their requests of us as school leaders were in direct conflict with one another. They both believed recent events and conversations regarding equity within our schools had a direct, personal, and negative effect on their child’s identity. Their asks of us as school leaders were incongruent. In these meetings, parents, who were at school advocating for their own children, shared two truths that exist in our school spaces. I share this experience because I want to be clear that it’s my job–and the job of the staff in our schools–to keep all kids safe, welcome, and respected. But this work is complicated. Our community, our neighbors, our families have different opinions on how to best go about this work. Multiple perspectives exist in the same space in our schools and community. And, as a school district and community, we must all remain focused and committed to the care of children.
In schools, we often engage in discussions regarding the best way to educate, should we teach phonics or whole language – how about standards-based grading? These are important conversations and call for debate and discussion. That said, the most critical part of our work as educators is to be in the care of children–to show up and care about all kids–we do this work in partnership with parents. You as parents/guardians give us your children and we, as educators, must educate and prepare them for college/career and also love them unconditionally. The bottomline, this care for our kids is a value we all share in our diverse community.
Our school district cares deeply for children – all children. We are a purpose-driven district and I’m a purpose-driven superintendent. Although my jobs may have changed in my 20 year career as an educator, I have remained committed to my purpose. I educate with determination and commitment to create ethical, educated, and engaged citizens committed to justice. These aren’t just words to me. They guide me through all decisions and all opportunities.
Being purpose-driven doesn’t make the work easy. In some ways it makes the work harder. I expect my work to reflect my purpose and the priorities of this district. This means making our schools spaces where we can speak our truths (as those parents did last week), stay engaged, and stay committed to providing meaningful experiences and deep learning for all kids.
Thank you for showing up and doing this work with us. Our kids deserve our collective attention.