Random Thoughts From a School Superintendent

I’m not sure how to put any of this into words so please excuse me as I likely pinball all over the place for this post.  Late last night when I was walking out of the school I was accompanied by a co-worker and we could both see the exhaustion on each other’s faces.  People like to use the phrase – “put out fires all day long.”  I’ll refrain from that – as fighting fires I know nothing about, but the people that do fight fires are heroes and I’d never want to minimize what they do.  But you get how the day went anyways.  And that type of day has become the norm lately.

Covid-19 is real.  And that’s not a political statement.  It’s real in its existence and it’s real in the hearts and minds of all of us affected by it in one way, shape, or form.  From those suffering from it or to those that have lost loved ones, it’s real.  It’s real for the teachers doing double duty by delivering education both in person and virtual.  It’s real to the nurses, doctors, and medical personnel that are dealing with it daily.  It’s real to the parents that have adjusted work schedules to care for their children at home while they distant learn.  It’s real for employers who can’t find workers.  And today it was real to the students that sat weeping as I told them that their volleyball season would be suspended for two weeks.  

It’s real.  Period.  And so is mental illness.  So is exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.  It’s all real.  My heart aches for children missing out on opportunities.  My heart aches for the connections that kids crave that they are not getting.  My heart aches for my staff.  They are heroes too.  And all of this has put a lot into perspective for me.  Here is where I start to pinball.

America – wake up.  World – wake up.  I’m not a Democrat or Republican.  I’m not right, left, middle, center, north, south, east, west, kitty-corner, or diagonal.  I’m more horizontal than anything but that’s more of a personal problem.  I see people working their tails off every single day.  I see exhaustion.  I see fatigue.   I see my staff run down.  I see students walking in fear and frustration.  I see struggling parents…frustrated parents.

And then I turn on the TV or see my Facebook feed and I see hatred.  I see blaming.  I see political shaming.  I see our nation’s leaders demeaning one another.  I see a nation divided.  And all of this puts more fear into the hearts and minds of adults and children. And so please let me offer my small town, North Dakota, tiny dot on this Earth, advice.  It’s not researched and I have no data to back it up.  But I certainly think it’s worth a try.  Here goes.

  1. Wear a mask.  It’s not political and even if it was – if it saves one person from getting a virus and possibly saves a life why wouldn’t you?  If it just keeps one more child in school why wouldn’t you?  If keeping kids in school improves mental health – why wouldn’t you?  Even if there was no science to wearing masks which I’m not sure if there is or isn’t why wouldn’t you if it could possibly better one person’s life?  Unless you are medically compromised in doing so – why wouldn’t you?
  2. Have empathy.  Lost in the world today is the ability to disagree with someone without being demeaning or disrespectful.  Empathy is hate’s kryptonite.  Be empathetic in all of your interactions and conversations.
  3. Trust.  This is lost in the world as well.  Trust that people are doing the best they can in their jobs and in everyday life.  One bad teacher doesn’t define all teachers.  One bad superintendent doesn’t define all superintendents.  One bad cop doesn’t define all cops.  One bad doctor doesn’t define all doctors.  One bad parent doesn’t define all parents.  One moment doesn’t define a lifetime.  Most people are really just trying to do their best every single day.  Trust that. 
  4. Politicians – I get that you want to win an election – but in doing so you are losing us all. Show grace, compassion, and respect to each other and maybe, just maybe the nation will follow your lead.
  5. Write in God:  God is not running for any office but write Him in anyways.  Write Him in with prayer for every single race you are voting on.  God heals and God unites.  I’ve got faith that He will do just that if we all turn to him.
  6. Be kind.  It’s so simple.  It takes zero effort.  It’s not hard to be kind and compassionate.  It’s not hard to smile.  It’s not hard to give another person a compliment.  It’s not hard to do someone else a favor.  It’s not hard to help your neighbor.  If we all made an extra effort to be kind – could you imagine how much better the world would be.
  7. Media.  Stop.  Simply stop.  I get negative news sells, but positive news heals.  Thank you to the media outlets that shed light on the positive things happening in this world.  I’ll watch you any day and every day.

That’s it.  Nothing too fancy.  Nothing too difficult.  Things don’t have to be the way they are.  We have the power to change them and it starts with changing ourselves.  I pray for this nation, especially all of our educators and students.  I pray that educators stay resilient and receive the courage and strength they need to continue to provide for our students.  I pray for our students, that they never miss an opportunity to connect with someone or something.  I pray they can stay in school and follow their passions and dreams.  I pray for the election, and that God brings clarity, peace, and prosperity to our nation and world.  Finally, I pray that we all find kindness within ourselves and share it with each other every single day.

Adults – our children are counting on us to make the world a better place, just as their children will count on them. Maybe, just maybe, my one little dot of existence on this earth will shed light on you and your dot shed light on another. Light up the world folks. We got this.

In This Together – Win This Together