It’s hard to believe we have almost reached the end of what has been the most unpredictable, disrupted, emotional, all-encompassing school year of my and, I’m willing to bet, all of your careers in education. One year ago, all of our buildings were closed. We were operating in crisis mode, learning how to provide instruction, social-emotional support, meals and so much more for our 36,000 students who we couldn’t see in person. We didn’t know what the summer, the fall, or the next year would hold, or how long this pandemic would last. All we knew was that our students needed us, and that we’d do whatever it took to be there for them.
This has also been a traumatic year in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the racial reckoning that followed. Incidents of hate, violence, and an insurrection at our nation’s capital caused pain, anger and fear for all of us, bringing centuries of systemic inequities to the forefront.
While the pandemic is not over yet, and our fight for social justice continues, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter every day. Students who opted for in-person instruction came back to school. They got to participate in sports, arts and extracurricular activities. Families will get to see their seniors walk across the stage at graduation. Students did projects and took a stand for racial equity, and we’re getting closer to making ethnic studies a graduation requirement starting with the class of 2025.
There is a lot of work ahead of us. But for now, it is time to pause, reflect and, most important of all, to say thank you.
Thank you educators and school staff. You taught and supported your students virtually and in person, often both on the same day. You are the backbone of our schools, and you completed a career’s worth of work in just one year.
Thank you principals and building leaders. You faced doubt with courage. You adjusted on the fly, guided your staff, and made sure your students and families stayed engaged and informed.
Thank you health and wellness staff. You have provided much guidance and education to our students, staff and SPPS community, adding so much to your already full plates. You taught us all how to serve our community during a pandemic.
Thank you facilities staff. You made sure our buildings and classrooms were cleaned, set up, and ready to welcome our students and staff back into great learning spaces after a long time away.
Thank you Community Education and childcare staff. From Essential Kids Care to Discovery Club to ECFE, you provided childcare in a fun, safe, supportive learning environment for all students to thrive. Our parents on the front lines truly appreciate all the work you did this year.
Thank you nutrition staff. You’ve done an amazing job supporting our students and each other. Thank you for your time, commitment and dedication and for being our SPPS school lunch heroes.
Thank you transportation staff. Whether you were rescheduling routes, transporting iPads, food or students to school, your hard work and dedication made this school year possible. Thank you for an enjoyable ride.
Thank you technology services and ODAE staff. Your work to ensure students had iPads and hot spots, and helping staff adjust to working from home was invaluable.
Thank you human resources team. Your dedication, innovation and commitment does not go unnoticed. We appreciate all of you and your amazing work this year.
Thank you clerks, social workers, counselors, security staff, communications, athletics, operations, research, engagement, finance, grants, and all of our SPPS staff. Every one of you worked diligently to adapt to all of the changes and keep our district running smoothly under incredible stress and tight timelines.
Thank you ALL for your amazing work.
Joe Gothard, Superintendent