By Superintendent Christy Perry
If I could offer a community New Year’s resolution, it would be that we come together with renewed, steadfast, unified commitment to do everything we can to care for and support our youth.
Feedback from students
Recently, I visited with students. Our kids know the world is changing, and they notice the world is divided. When asked what advice they would give to adults, they said be kind, set your differences aside and be there for each other. This was the answer from kids!
I visited with students who were new to school. They said their classroom was good because they felt like they belonged, kids were nice to them and they had friends. Clearly, this teacher in this classroom has built community, and it’s only one of many classrooms building community together.
Students returning to school full time, in-person
We all know returning to school full time, in-person has had its challenges, but it’s the best thing we made happen this past year. We’ve seen social and academic improvement. We’ve come together to teach and reteach expectations, provide social connections and care deeply about our students.
Making up for lost time in person cannot happen overnight – it takes time – but it will happen. Our students depend on us to continue down the learning path, but at a pace that allows for renewal of their minds and their spirits.
The U.S. surgeon general issued an advisory on youth mental health – a concern before the pandemic, a national crisis because of the pandemic. The surgeon general’s toolkit provides recommendations for us all – educators, youth, parents and caregivers, journalists, tribes, health care and more.
A step we can take is to read and take to heart the recommendations, and not through the lens of what others should do, but with clear eyes about what we, individually and together, need to do.
So, what can we do together as a community in 2022? Individually, let’s determine our own ability to impact change. Then let’s come together as a community and have courageous conversations on behalf of our youth.
One Team — Better Together
Our theme in Salem-Keizer has been “One Team — Better Together.” Our community as a whole can be “One Team – Better Together.” Our students, educators, families, community organizations – we are all one team. We have a moral obligation to ensure the welfare of our youth in an inclusive and equitable environment, and we can do that better together.
My hope is each of you will look to the year ahead with optimism and meaningfulness. May your present and future be one of compassion, understanding, strength and commitment so we are a safe and welcoming community for our youth.
Each of us is not strong in all things, at all times. We know this. But when each of us brings our best self to the whole – to our community – we can be stronger in more things, more of the time. We are One Team — Better Together. Here’s to doing 2022 with you!