I wrote this last year as we closed the hardest year any of us had ever faced. As I reflect on this year, I acknowledge that in many ways this year created even more unprecedented challenges. I reshare this letter because every word rings true. Our community is truly blessed by our faculty and staff.
An Open Letter to My Faculty and Staff,
I started and restarted this letter a dozen times. I searched my brain for inspiring quotes. I immediately remembered the Jackie Robinson quote I shared at graduation. “A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives.” As inspiring as this quote is, it falls short.
Yes. You absolutely inspire your students. Of course, you do.
But this year, you not only impacted them, but you also sacrificed more than you have ever sacrificed before. You worked hours upon hours to find ways to ensure each of your students had a fighting chance at an education. You battled to give them the hope of a “normal” day.
Some of you cared for them on the playground or athletic fields. Others of you cared for them in the health room or in the office. Still, others made sure their environment provided safety and remained germ-free. Some of you ensured that the school’s daily operations continued allowing our students access to education. Some of you served our students in the classroom. Others provided for their mental health needs.
No matter your role in this building, you taught our students.
Maya Angelou once challenged her audience with this thought. “If you teach, you have to live your teaching.” Dr. Angelou charged her listeners to understand the magnitude and responsibility of teaching. For years, this quote terrified me. It intensified my already profound fear of failure. But for the first time in my life, I witnessed the beauty of this quote, in each and every one of you.
Each of you invested and sacrificed for our students and our community. By choosing to show up every day, you lived your teaching.
Often, you felt the sting of criticism and judgment. Other times you felt invisible and unnoticed. At times, people questioned your efforts. But you pressed on because you knew what you were doing mattered.
Baseballism would say our students were surrounded by adults that would have charged the mound to defend them, even at a great personal sacrifice.
Trying to encapsulate all that you accomplished and achieved this year is impossible. Words fail me. However, I embrace this opportunity in my final wire of the year to say what I have longed to say all year.
I am sorry.
I am sorry for all you endured to make this year a reality. I am sorry for all I had to ask of you. I recently read a blog post from a respected school leader. He concluded by reminding his readers that it is ok to feel sad after making the right decision. I spent a lot of my year sad. I am sorry for the toll this year took on us.
Thank you for facing each day regardless of the uncertainty. Thank you for putting aside your own position, fears, worries, and opinions so your students had teachers and staff present to serve them. Thank you for flexing into the ever-changing rules and orders thrust upon us. Thank you for trusting me, even when it was dark. Thank you for putting your students first. Thank you for being the beautiful, courageous humans you are.
We did it. Together, we accomplished my one desire. We ended the year together, healthy and safe. We had some close calls, but we did it. If I learned anything this year, I learned to appreciate the present. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But today, I celebrate you. In this space and time, you gave unconditionally of your heart and soul to serve our most treasured gifts, our students.
I love you forever. I like you always. As long as I am living, my team, you will be.