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Teacher and Staff Appreciation!

Last Friday night, I attended the TempoMental concert at the HighSchool. I heard the sweet and touching voices of students who love the harmonies they create and sing the soul of Putnam Valley. They expressed their love of their teachers and their world in the music room and in their school “for the longest time.” This week is set aside to remind us to say thank you to our teachers, to appreciate the gifts of hope and life they bring every day to millions of children throughout our nation and the world. In our schools, all who participate in the school community are teachers of subjects that extend beyond content areas to ways of being, ways of knowing, ways of caring for each child we see each day. Our teachers are masters of content and connection.  We know more now about how students learn than when I began teaching in 1968. We know that one word of encouragement can lead to the desire to achieve and to dream of their future and that a hint of disapproval or disbelief or humiliation can be so difficult to overcome. We know that our own emotion impacts our communication and establishes a unique environment. We are aware that engaging students minds and hearts creates the catalyst for change, for learning. The work of teaching and learning is challenging, complex and sometimes overwhelming. How to connect with our students so that they care and are moved to want to know more is the moment to moment journey of the classroom experience. It is also the source of joy and wonder at the insights that arise from sparks emerging from that connection.

This week, after many years, a group of our middle school students are traveling with teachers and administrators to Washington, D.C. We know that this trip requires trust and commitment of dedicated colleagues who believe in opening doors for our students and want them to experience the history and meaning that resides in our capital. For many, this will be a life-changing experience remembered forever, not just the monuments, but a special time to learn and live together.  We will be cheering them on as they pave the way for others to follow in opening our students to deeper understanding of who we are as a nation. Without the passion of our teachers to guide our students’ journey, we could not take on the new initiatives that are building stronger learning communities. The International Baccalaureate relies upon teachers who are willing to pioneer new ways of deepening the learning community; our challenge program at the elementary school asks teachers to think differently about growing minds. Our middle school journey moves our students and teachers out of their comfort zones to a shared public arena.

​Schools are the one shared and hopeful constant in the lives of so many children in our country and throughout the world. We believe that the work of educators in our public schools is the critical link to sustaining our democracy and our unity of purpose as Americans.

To express our gratitude, inspire our vision and recognize the power of our profession and the work of all in our schools who contribute to the learning community, I am including a link to a Brené Brown video, the “Daring Classrooms” shared by one of our colleagues.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVD8YRgA-ck&feature=youtu.be

Here are some video clips and photos from Friday’s concert: https://photos.app.goo.gl/vxJP53cT2yy6ELSz8

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools