Superintendent Message - April 2020

Dr. Jane Stavem, Superintendent

It seems like everywhere we turn, advice is offered about how to cope with this time of closure. Why? Because everyone is experiencing this common situation, and no two scenarios of how that experience is playing out are the same. As a result, people need different things, and most people and organizations are trying to be helpful, while also taking care of their own needs. 

This is also part of the uniqueness of how school districts across the nation are dealing with closures and supporting remote learning opportunities for students. Typically, when there is some type of crisis event, it is limited to a geographic area, and rarely are people all experiencing the event at the same time. Now, almost every district is trying to adapt and do their very best, some with abundant resources, and some with very little. 

In our current situation, school district staff members are at home in the same way that families are home. That also means while we’re providing educational supports, our staff members are operating in an environment that lacks many of the tools and resources found in our schools and classrooms. They’re also doing so with young children, teenagers, elderly family members, new babies, illness, and other realities. 

That doesn’t mean they don’t have a computer, or access to online tools like many people working from home.  It means they don’t have students with them. Whether you’re interacting with students through email, PowerSchool or Teams, you still don’t have access to students in the same way, and teaching in a remote environment is very different than teaching in the regular classroom setting. We have had online learning for many years, but online learning is different when you lose proximity to your students, and when you’re orchestrating that learning from a remote workplace. 

As we continue to move forward from now until the end of the official school year on June 19, there are three pieces of advice I’ve gleaned from just about everything I’ve seen or read, and I think apply very well  as we continue to weather this pandemic as a school district and as community of human beings experiencing a very difficult time. 

Be kind, be generous, and be flexible.  

Be kind – Be kind to yourself.  This is really difficult, and everyone is trying to make sense of what has happened, what will happen, and every day is different as we process a major life event. We also need to be kind to others, because everyone is experiencing their own reality, and you don’t know what that is. Some may be doing just fine while others are struggling mightily.

Be generous – Be generous with yourself and others. Be generous in encouragement, offering support and advice, resources when you can, and living with a generous spirit that typically responds with grace toward others. 

Be flexible – We have all had to learn new levels and layers of flexibility. You may be sharing space and the Internet with others in new ways. You might have new working requirements and realities. You may have a completely different schedule than you’re used to. All of those things will be required as we continue to work and learn from home in the coming weeks.  What I can guarantee is that nothing is going to be perfect. 

PowerSchool might be slow. Your teacher may not do something the same way as another teacher. Your child may not cooperate. You might be overwhelmed at times. All of that is ok. Please be flexible and go as slow or as fast as you are able to with all of this.  Your school will be happy to help, and we’re all going to do our best now and when school resumes. 

This is not school as we know it and it isn’t going to be until we return to gathering without constraints. This will change school in many ways, but public school will always be about working with children and helping them learn. That central purpose has and will continue to take place in many different formats. Online learning is great for many things, but it can never replace the value of being face-to-face with children. 

We miss all of you and look forward to the time when we’ll gather again to enjoy the things we love most about our schools. 


Dr. Jane Stavem, Superintendent