Monday, January 15, 2018

Shed A Little Light

This past weekend in Montpelier, the sun rose at 7:22 AM and set at 4:37 PM, a total of nine hours and fifteen minutes of sunlight and while it pales in comparison to what we see in the middle of June (and the rest of our warmer months) it is better than how little we saw in December.  Even if it is only marginally better, even if only by minutes, we are gaining more and more sunlight every day. 

One of my favorite singers, James Taylor, wrote and performed a song called "Shed A Little Light" in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Click here to listen to it.  One of the lines speaks to me very clearly, especially in the world of education, in 2018:

That we are bound together, in our desire to see the world become, 
A place in which our children can grow free and strong.

Now, perhaps more than ever, in a world that seems to be growing more and more polarized everyday, it is critical that we recognize when we are all pulling in the same direction.  By doing that, we can ensure that we honor the work that everyone is doing on behalf of all our children, and for us in Montpelier Public Schools a centerpiece to that work this year is equity.  

In the coming weeks, we will continue to focus our work with the Racial Justice Alliance, a student led organization at Montpelier High School, to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and promote more equity in 2018.  Our commitment to each and every student in Montpelier Public Schools is that they feel safe and included when they walk through our doors each and every morning.  

As the days get longer, we are committing to shed more light in Montpelier Public Schools.  We will be working to honor each and every student, regardless of skin color, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.  And while we cannot eradicate all inequity in our world, we will take a stand in MPS and say not here!


Sunday, January 7, 2018

It Really Does Take a Village

This past week, there was an apartment fire in Montpelier.  It displaced eight families, two of them with direct connections to Montpelier Public Schools: one of our employees and one of our families was living in that building. 

At 1:40 PM, I received an e-mail from the City Manager, letting me know there was a structure fire in town.  Based on the address, we were able to determine whom was impacted by this fire, thanks to some quick work by our Data Manager, Chris Ilstrup.  Before long, I had assigned the family "homeless" status, which makes several resources available immediately.  We were able to speak directly with the impacted employee, who did not have a lot of information at that point. 

Before the end of the day, we were able to be in touch with the counselor of the family impacted by the fire.  Through that relationship, we established a means of communication to connect with the family.  Another staff member in MPS would be the main point of communication to our affected employee, ensuring we would not overwhelm anyone by reaching out. 

In my experience, those of us who are aware of situations like this immediately feel the need to "do something," and that can put pressure on those who have already been through so much.  While the urge to do something is palpable from our perspective, often it is best to wait to see what the real need is.  These situations are not about us, and our need to help and do; it is about those who may have lost everything. 

I am proud of the MPS response.  It was patient and allowed (and is allowing) those impacted by this fire to let us know what they need.  We have placed envelopes in each building to collect donations for both the family and the employee.  Friends of the family have started a GoFundMe page and while several asked to start one for the impacted employee, he kindly and respectfully declined.  We are listening to his wishes.  It is not about us. 

My sincere thanks to Bill Fraser, the City Manager of Montpelier, for sending that e-mail on Tuesday afternoon.  I don't, and cannot, serve Montpelier alone.  I'm humbled and grateful to have wonderful people around me to ensure that we care for each and everyone connected to Montpelier Public Schools.


Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year... New Resolution?

Tradition says at the new year, one makes resolutions.  Personally, I've never been good at that and try to avoid making them.  However, during the winter recess, I saw the following image on Twitter and was inspired: 


So much of what we read about in the news, on social media, so much of what permeates our world are people taking down other people.  Literally and figuratively.  We are being shown in words and in deeds, that to exercise power we must do it at the expense of others.  

I wholeheartedly disagree.  

In education, relationships are what matters.  I remember some "content" from my many years in classrooms as a student, yet can easily name my most influential teachers by name.  Their imprint on my life goes far beyond the things they taught me; their imprint is a result of the relationship we built together.  It is a result of how I felt when I was in their classrooms: safe, included, and cared for.  

So while I am still reluctant to make a resolution to begin 2018, I do promise to be more thoughtful and purposeful about lifting others.  Will you join me?