By Krestin Bahr
With apologies to the other seasons, this is the most wonderful time of the year and my favorite month – October. There's something about the return of students and teachers to classrooms, hallways, playgrounds and playing fields in the name of homecoming that makes these early days of fall come alive.
Maybe it's the way the temperatures dip into the 50s or even lower at night and early morning that charges the air with energy - and afternoons that welcome you back outdoors with sunshine and hints of the fall colors to come in the trees.
It isn't just any kind of energy in the air. It's a positive and optimistic energy, one that views the world as full of possibility. If we could bottle it, we would put Starbucks out of business, although I do love the PSL decaf tall latte.
Perhaps it is the anticipation of something new and the return of the familiar, all at the same time. The friends and routines you haven't seen all summer are back, and the school buildings that are the same except for a new coat of wax on the floor. But there's new expectations and responsibilities to wrap your mind around, new knowledge to learn, new skills to master. It's a chance to start over, no matter how the last school year ended. You're ready to try again. You are resilient.
This month has been a collection of incredible highs and some terrible lows. How do we make sense of things like school shootings, public shootings, and century-large hurricanes and rainstorms washing away communities? How do we stay positive in such a world? These questions are on my mind and in my heart.
My father lives in Rockport, Texas. He is just coming home to a community that has been demolished, flooded, and is in the beginning stages of regrowth and renewal. He told me that they are blessed, and that they look forward to giving back to their community as others slowly come back.
My thoughts after a month of personal loss of a parent, hurricanes, and two shooting events is that there is no way to make this life easy or have it make sense. What we can do is love each other, every day, and spread it to every place we touch. It is free to give and can often make a difference.
This is the season to make a difference, to give of your heart and soul to those who need it most. Sometimes, it is a hard job – selfless, non-stop and seemingly insurmountable at times with some children. But you are the answer.
R. Sagor he states, “As adults, we would love to ensure that the world our children inherit will be better and brighter than the one we now occupy. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. Life's obstacle course will continue to exist for our children, as it has for us. What we can do, however, is use our school programs, our teaching strategies, and our methods of classroom organization as vehicles to respond to the challenge raised by Franklin Roosevelt more than 50 years ago: "We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." (1940)
I am convinced that the best way to prepare our youth for an uncertain future is to provide each student with a resiliency anti-body. We can do this by providing them genuine feelings of competence, belonging, usefulness, potency, and optimism through powerful, repeated, and authentic school experiences and by critically examining the results of our efforts.
We know that the world continually changes, children grow and learn in leaps and bounds, and families gather each season to renew the year and celebrate the successes. The cycle of nature reminds us that there is renewal in growth and learning, and that change is welcome.
The values of creativity, excellence, responsibility, character, equity and diversity embrace the Eatonville values for generations in our community.
We are honored in our collective roles to serve the community of Eatonville schools. The children rely on our work to make the difference in their lives. Their sense of safety, accomplishment and character depends on our ability to connect, engage and love them, even if it is difficult. In addition, unlike other organizations, we must create opportunities that inspire, ignite and create wonder, creativity and a sense of self in this place: Eatonville strong.
Staying optimistic, positive, social, energetic, cooperative, curious, helpful, punctual and on-task is a way to combat the uncertainty during these times. Thank you for making this district a place where children and parents can come to be included, heard, energized, and feel like they belong.
Krestin Bahr is superintendent of the Eatonville School District.
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