Educators show good character daily
The disturbing and heartbreaking loss of so many young lives and the devoted educators in a school in Connecticut last week has put a cloud over many of our holiday celebrations, but this tragic event also gives us all a reason to pause and reflect on the character of the teachers, support staff and administrators who serve your children, and why they choose to do so.
More than anything else, last week’s events remind us of the incredible individuals who choose to work in education, and the lengths that they will go to protect the children entrusted to them. As I watched the news reports come in last week, I wasn't surprised to hear about the teacher who locked her students in a bathroom and would not let anyone in, including the police. I wasn't surprised that she made it a point to let her students know how much she loves them and values them. I wasn't surprised to hear about the teacher who locked her room down, covered the windows, and calmly moved her children to a corner and proceeded to read to them despite the chaos taking place around them, and knowing that something was terribly wrong. I wasn't surprised that two teachers lost their lives to protect their children. And I wasn't surprise to hear about the principal, psychologist and assistant principal who were gunned down as they tried to tackle the assailant before he could do harm. Only the assistant principal survived.
The staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I think, are typical of the people who choose to be educators. It is also the reason that, since becoming superintendent, I have steadfastly asked that our employees treat each other with dignity and respect, and to acknowledge the efforts of those who work so hard and are willing to do almost anything for the kids they serve — including trying to protect them from violence. As was so clearly illustrated in Newtown, Conn., the vast majority of people who choose to work with your children in our schools care deeply about kids, and, more than any profession I know of, go over and above on their behalf.
The next time you see your child’s teacher, someone from the front office, or any of the many District employees that contribute to your child’s education, let them know that their work is appreciated. I am grateful every day for the incredible amount of time GESD employees devote to their jobs, and for the personal sacrifices that come with being a public school educator. I know all of them —teachers, support staff, administrators —sacrifice time with their families, or forgo their personal well-being to make sure your children are learning, that your schools are well-run, and your children are cared for. I also know that they love the children we're privileged to serve, and that every one of them would not hesitate to stand in harm’s way to protect one of your kids or their colleagues. Few other professionals are as self-sacrificing as educators. For non-educators it's sometimes mind boggling to consider the things educators do and sacrifice regularly. For us, it is doing what we love.
Over the last week I’ve listened as many individuals talked about how important it is that we become a kinder, more gentle and caring people. I will go out on a limb and say that, in the craziness that has become our high stakes, high accountability profession, we need to become kinder and more gentle in how we go about the business of making sure kids are learning. This holiday season, I’ve asked our employees to take time to reflect on how we can take a kinder and positive approach to our work, and what we can do to help ourselves lead more balanced lives to spend more time with our families, and to take care of ourselves. And I hope you will also reflect on how you, too, can assist us in making sure Glendale’s children get the best education possible in a safe, nurturing environment.
I wish you and your families the happiest of holidays.