August 3, 2017
Hello Tigers, Panthers and Trojans,
The 2017-18 school year is here!
It is my hope that everyone had a wonderful summer and shared many happy moments with loved ones and friends. My thanks to the colleagues and Durham community members who have welcomed me so warmly, sharing their hopes, goals, and extraordinary love for the kids and what they do! To say that I am deeply impressed is an understatement.
With your forbearance, I would like to preach to the choir for a moment, and express my admiration for everyone in the Durham community and the staff of Durham Unified…there is no other calling as noble or critical to we humans as raising, educating, and mentoring our society’s young. There is also nothing more fulfilling, intrinsically rewarding, challenging, sometimes frustrating and heart wrenching, (and energy draining), than the aforementioned. From the many parents and other members of our community, and from within Durham Unified, our support staff to the teachers in the classroom, this combined effort requires a uniquely high level of personal ownership, a mind-set of innovation, commitment, and plain hard work.
But, there is something more required of us in greater measure than in any other endeavor, and the reason I hold involved, supportive parents and public school professionals in such high regard…it is having an inexhaustible supply of empathy and patience, leading to the willingness to teach and mentor our kids, who sometimes struggle and resist our efforts, tooth and nail. When they are afraid to trust and risk, mistakenly believe their “best” can’t get better, and come to us from widely differing backgrounds…some from a playing field that is so far from level, they’ve never been able to gain their footing.
Raising and mentoring our kids requires that we as parents and educators expend tremendous effort, sometimes with a risk of them not being successful, at least initially…and when they aren’t, keeping our (and their) frustration at bay, adjusting what we do, going back and trying again as many times as it takes. We’ve all seen it, from parents helping our kids with their homework, to educators new to the profession, or seasoned vets…and whether our charges are the Tigers, Panthers, or the Trojans about to head out and start their adult life.
That responsibility and opportunity is shared by parents and every person who sets foot on a public school campus, whether he or she works every day to provide a clean and safe facility and grounds, transports the kids, feeds them, coaches, works in one of the many other support service areas, volunteers, or stands up in front of the class. We are all in this together, and I am continually amazed at the effort, skill, and dedication I see from parents and my colleagues.