This Has Been Very Difficult
I am not going to lie to you, this past week or so has been very difficult. I know this may have the melody of self-pity to it, but trust me, this is not about me. Our community, faculty, parents and students have worked very hard over the past 6 years to create a school that is welcoming to all students. A school where all students can feel safe to learn and to explore; create and shape the person they will become.
We know how difficult it is these days to make it through the period of life we call adolescence. More than in any other year, and it seems more and more, students face greater challenges just coming to school. Social media and 24/7 instant communication make it difficult to “get away” from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Adolescents are more aware of life around them than ever before. Even as we attempt to shelter them from all the we deem harmful, the world seems to find its way in. It used to be that when our kids had questions they could come to us for answers. Now all of the answers are available with the touch of a touch screen.
Our challenge as an educational institution is to help our students learn to navigate their world with respect, responsibility, honesty, compassion and courage (Gorham School Department Code of Conduct) as well as teaching them the cognitive skills they will need to be successful in the 21st Century. To accomplish these goals, we engage in a range of activities that are intended to complement the learning our students receive from parents and to aid our school community in creating a safe, positive and responsible learning environment.
Because of our efforts in these areas over the past 6 years, we have seen a dramatic reduction in incidents of behavior that require office intervention. Our numbers of students who have been suspended from school have decreased dramatically and the number of detentions that have been meted out by the administration has declined. Programs that help us help students learn to be more cooperative, more tolerant of our differences and more understanding of each other have been a big reason for these changes.
As difficult as this has been for our school and community, I am so very proud of the way we all have responded to this incident and the range of comments it has evoked.
For those of you who have read this blog frequently, you know of my penchant for including videos of others who can say far better than I the things I wish I had said. Barry Schwartz is a Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College. He is also the author of several books on wisdom, most notably a book entitled Practical Wisdom.
I do want to remind you that he is a “professor” therefore he does tend to be wordy, but his words are extremely practical and they do offer bits of wisdom for all of us. I hope you enjoy:
We held our PIE meeting this evening and I really want to thank all those who braved the terrible weather and made it to school. I think we had an excellent discussion regarding the events of our Diversity Day. I think we all recognized that it should never have happened and discussed some ideas to help us as a school make sure that it never happens again.
Why Would We Do a Diversity Day
I have been asked this question a lot recently, and, truthfully, I have asked myself the question as well! The answer always is “it’s the right thing to do for our students”.
There has been a great deal of focus on the error that we made during the last presentation of the day to a group of about 25 students. I am not excusing us, the error was made and we need to learn from it. There were, however, several great presentations for our students that were extremely relevant and timely for our students, and from which they gained considerable insight and understanding.
This was also a day in which the student members of our Civil Rights Team exhibited incredible skills of organization and demonstrated the kinds of leadership experiences that can only be gained through this kind of event. For example, one session dealt with disabilities in school and how it feels to have a disability and be a student. That takes a tremendous amount of courage to be able to stand up and have that discussion.
Another session, our very own GMS Students led a group discussion about bullying in our school and what we can all do about this problem. The Preble Street Resource Center spoke to our kids about homelessness and poverty and the impact it has on families and, quite possibly, some of their classmates.
There are a lot of good reasons for doing a day like this for our students and there was some great learning going on throughout the school.
1st Quarter Report Cards
Your child will be bringing home their first quarter report cards today. The report cards are a “snapshot” of where your child stands today as they work toward reaching the standards of their grade level.
If you have questions about your child’s grade, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher. If you haven’t yet received your username and password for your account on INfinite Campus to be able to view your child’s grade please call our Guidance Office at 222-1247.