Superintendent's Column: Life as Educators

The beginning of a new school year. As one of the finest educators I have ever known – Dr. Gary Livingston – said, very few professions entail the opportunity to annually begin anew. 

So again, we do.  

As the education professionals who serve the more than 100,000 students who attend public, private or public charter schools in our shared region, it seems wise that we think deeply about what we owe them over the course of this, and every, school year. 

Serving as an education professional, no matter our role – crossing guard, bus driver, custodial or maintenance, cook, secretary, clerical, financial support, paraeducator/aide, human resources, counselor, teacher, school or district office leader, elected board member – we each must embrace the significant responsibilities that accompany the position we hold.

To welcome, accept and cherish each student entrusted to our care. Were it not for them, there would be no reason for us – something we ought never forget. And not just some of them; every one of them. To keep them safe. To help them learn to their fullest potential … to the level they each deserve, and are capable of achieving, in order to  pursue their dreams and a full and successful life in a competitive and connected world. 

To provide a role model they can respect, admire and emulate. A model of lifelong and ongoing learning. A model of learning to think – thoughtfully and thoroughly – about issues that affect them, each other, and our shared present and future.

A model of acceptance; appreciation and celebration of diversity and difference … of valuing each individual and his/her story, as well as the tapestry that is us, together. A model of how decent and dignified people treat and talk to and about one another.

So, too, should we acknowledge our privilege as the adults who serve our young people. Many of us are imbued with varying degrees of personal privilege, and all of us have professional privilege that is inherent in the positions we hold. Whatever our line authority may be, what each of us does, and how we do it, ultimately affects the education and the future of the young people in our schools. 

It seems to me we should recognize our privilege, use it with care and sensitivity, remembering that we should always give the best of ourselves – so that every single one of our students is given the opportunity, and the needed support, to become the best of themselves

As a new school year commences, may we all be mindful of the responsibility and privilege we hold as educational professionals, and may we all strive to assure a culture of learning and community in which unity trumps division, and true success for every student is our palpable and shared commitment.  

Michael Dunn, Superintendent