A Letter from Dr. April Grace
Dear Shawnee Public School Families,
This is truly a year of transformation.
It has taken me a few days to find the words, to express my feelings surrounding the current state of our nation. And quite honestly, it seemed a better approach to just soak it in and listen first. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote to our staff about where we were regarding our school year and the ensuing pandemic. I mentioned to them that we had been in a state of triage, and we were moving to transitioning to the next steps. I then shared how the current circumstances were shifting our perspectives, that our transition would ultimately lead to transformation, and eventually triumph. Who knew when I penned those words that we would yet again find ourselves in circumstances of unrest in our society?
Our theme and mantra have been Every Wolf Every Day. It all seems coincidental, if you believe in chance and coincidence. I have a slightly different belief. However, when I think of the students we serve, I love and care deeply about each of them. Every single one of them matters to me and to all the SPS staff. As educators we have the opportunity within the walls of our schools to affirm or dismantle the beliefs students have when they walk through our doors. If they come believing there is prejudice against them, we can affirm or dismantle, by our actions, our words, our care, and our concern. If they come believing they matter, we can likewise affirm or dismantle that belief.
As we continue to think about reimagining, redesigning, and redefining education to ensure learning and development for ALL, let us not forget to consider how we do this related to topics of humanity and social justice, such as antiracism. We are a school system of diversity. We must make our schools a place where injustices and implicit biases are not found. Our halls – our community – must be a place where every child has the right to hope and a future. We are the individuals who must live out the collective good of humanity, EVERY single day. As a nation we CAN do better, as individuals we MUST do better. It starts with you, and it starts with me.
Over the next several weeks, as you continue to spend time with your family and friends, consider how we can collectively listen to those who are hurting that we may learn and grow. It will be essential as we move forward with our future in focus that we move from triage, to transition, to an ultimate transformation in our educational system, so that we and our students may triumph. Our students, our staff, our parents, our neighbors, our loved ones, our community, and our state are ultimately depending on us to be a catalyst of change that will forever alter the course of history. In 1848, Horace Mann penned the words, “Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men.” As a safe and supportive school community, we value everyone and believe that our differences make us stronger and more resilient. We stand in solidarity against all acts of racism, disrespect, and inequitable treatment. We will take up the mantle of being the “great equalizer.” We will stay focused on Every Wolf Every Day.
Just maybe 2020 is the year we get a better vision for our future and is a year of true transformation, individually and collectively.
Stay positive, stay focused, and remember, love always wins!
Dr. April Grace