As a community that cares deeply about our students, we have experienced a sleigh ride of moments and emotions. And, that’s just in the last five months! For that very reason, Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D., wrote a letter just for you. With this message, settle into the purpose and peace of the holiday season. Cool heads. Warm hearts.

Below is the text of the letter:

Oh, what a holiday!

It’s a magical time of the year, right? While 2021 is coming to a close, I’m trying to tap into a season of warmth and reflection. But, instead, I feel the weight of a community that’s exhausted. Tensions are running high. Frustration has replaced the fun. The value of being right has replaced our sense of wellbeing.

I remember being a young boy growing up in South Africa. Christmas was such a special time for my family. With English roots on my father’s side, and German/Russian roots on my mother’s side, our celebration was always eclectic. We gathered on Christmas Eve, which was usually a warm summer night, ate traditional German food, sitting outside, full of laughter and fellowship. Gift sharing was a serious affair, with hugs and tears abundantly exchanged. And we always ended with Midnight mass. I recall the unity I felt. Today, I write with one wish. 

A wish for unity: 

Unity is the one value we all hold near and dear to our hearts. The core of our values, decision-making and beliefs. The one common thread that ties together our teachers, families and staff. Our students! Our children!

Standing with our students means standing with our teachers. Our teachers play an instrumental role in the world-class experiences our students receive. Our teachers who have had to navigate the rough waters of classrooms during a pandemic. Our teachers who have had early release days filled with state-required training. There is no other profession that’s expected to wear the hats of counselor, nurse, law enforcement or parent. No. Other. Profession. I’ll never forget when one of our students described how moving to New Hope High School literally saved her life. Before coming to #1LISD she had lost hope. She couldn’t see how she could carry on. But her teachers immediately reached into her life, connected to her soul, and helped her to see her strength, her passion, and her purpose. Slowly and steadily her hope returned through the people who loved her, believed in her, and coached her to success. Now her hope and her dreams have returned. She is just one, but there are so many similar stories. 

Standing with our students means standing with our families. I wonder how much they know they too play a vital role in the world-class instruction their child receives? Our families who are trying to make sense of polarizing speech and feeling forced to take sides. Our families have had to make tough decisions in the name of health and safety about what’s best for their child. Our families who, for some, have mounting economic distress and shifting family dynamics. When two of our fifth graders lost their father to COVID, the campus wrapped themselves around the family, loving and supporting them through their tragic circumstances. They couldn’t take the pain away, but they could provide the net of support they needed to survive their ordeal.  

When I see the way our teachers and parents are partnering together to help students prepare themselves for anything that comes their way, I sleep better at night. I’m reassured that the rhetoric of the hour and what steals news headlines aren’t the reality of our schools. 

Unity. Oh, what a wish! But…

 … I’d like to think I don’t have to rely on a wish to see #1LISD. As One-L-I-S-D, we have ridden this bumpy road together. From the moment we shut down in March 2020 to now, we have shared a unique and pivotal experience, one that’s humbled us and has made us better, stronger for it. We will get through this because we are One-L-I-S-D — a district of innovators, who take risks, embrace challenges, and continuously improve. Whatever we face, we will reach success. Not because we were right, not because we were wrong, not for better or worse, but because we did it together. 

My wish this season is one for this entire district. To be filled with levity, refreshment and tenderness. Cool heads and warm hearts. 

Warmest regards,