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Dear Staff and Community Members:

As the holiday respite and joyful celebrations draw near, we can easily get caught up in the anxiety of the rush and worries about oversights that come with the gifting and arranging. Taking time to enjoy our families and friends, we recognize the power of love in our lives. At our schools there is great excitement; there is also great sadness for some of our students as they feel the loneliness and discomfort that exists in their lives. While our staff works tirelessly each day to connect with every student, there are some experiences that are less accessible and very painful. We cannot ignore the emotional turmoil suffered by children in need, particularly during the holidays. This has always been apparent in schools, but of late, there are additional struggles with addiction, social media control,  and economic pressures that are apparent.

If we look to the meaning of the holidays, we find a call to generosity of spirit and kindness. At our schools the staff works behind the scenes to see to it that children with little get something to let them know that we care and that we see them and their struggle. We are a nation and community of abundance, but also of very disparate circumstances. Just noticing makes a difference.

So often we focus on the differences among us; there are so many similarities. We are grateful for our relationships; we want to find ways to share our goodwill toward others. For example,  Putnam Valley Food Bank is busy supporting those in need. Our schools partner with many organizations to ensure some comfort to families so that all can enjoy the celebrations of life.

Connecting with students is a key attribute of teachers. Recently, 60 Minutes had a remarkable story about the role of teachers in a child’s life. I urge you to watch this video segment for inspiration and awe at the transformational possibilities and miracle of a teacher’s impact on the life of a child.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ryan-speedo-green-from-juvenile-delinquency-to-opera-stardom-60-minutes/

Best wishes to all for a joyous holiday season and happy new year!

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools