Today I got my annual “Happy Holidays” email from my Superintendent. It never ceases to amaze me how she turns everything into something to make us think. Leadership does permeate everything she does. Here’s the latest from our Coop Catalyst friend and author, Pam Moran (and I post this with her permission.):
I’m as vulnerable as anyone to the timeless impulse of taking for granted those special experiences and opportunities that are so easily placed into the “life as routine” category. This seems especially so during gift-giving season when our focus often is on something more tangible.
The latest example of this vulnerability was personalized in a brief discussion I had with one of our parents. She grew up in Vietnam and during her early life in that country, her father was among that segment of the population that supported the American effort during the war. As a result, once Saigon fell, her family was separated and her schooling morphed from classroom to re-education camp. Her formal instruction progressed no further than early middle school.
Perhaps that explains her passion today for public education and her gratitude for Albemarle County Public Schools. She’s not alone. There are families from 60 different countries represented in our schools and for many, both the quality and accessibility of education are beyond imagination.
Albemarle County, of course, is the birthplace of public education. It was native son Thomas Jefferson who said, “The most important bill in our whole code is for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness.”
And so it has been for more than two centuries, through several waves of immigration, more than a few wars, countless economic downturns, and the rise and fall of empires. Through all of this disruption, public education has been our nation’s bedrock and its path to recovery.
Most businesses and organizations select their customers or service areas. They target their resources to a group of their own choosing, making it easier to define their successes and maximize their returns. Public education is one institution whose doors truly are open to all regardless of qualification or standing, or even interest. It takes a unique skill set, uncommon determination, and infinite wisdom to look into the eyes of every student, regardless of station, and see a dream likely to come true.
We serve students and families from different countries and cultures, from diverse economic and social circumstances, with all manner of special needs, from families whose values cherish learning to families whose traditions have yet to realize the transformational power of a world class education.
Yet, while these challenges are great, your performance on behalf of children, all children, is even greater. For those who need to be convinced, look no further than the height of our competitive academic performance, the breadth of state and national honors earned by our students and staff, the extent of our school food drives, the impressions our students have made on officials at the Smithsonian and the Pentagon, or classroom Skype conversations with counterparts in Europe, civic activists in Egypt, and scientists in Antarctica.
Public education: Quite a gift. Thank you for making it so very tangible for all Albemarle County families.
Best wishes for a restorative winter break and a safe and enjoyable holiday season.