Each new school year brings a fresh sense of excitement and anticipation as we welcome students and staff back from the summer break. The energy is contagious, and it reminds us just how much we love our kids and their families, our staff and our supportive community. Simply put: We’re stronger when we are together.
There is much to look forward to in the coming days and months of the 2019-2020 school year. We will welcome both our new and veteran staff, enjoy watching the progress made on the construction of our new schools, and we will celebrate the incredible ways in which our students will grow through their experiences in PSD. After all, it is our mission to educate every child, every day.
As you prepare your family for this new school year, please know that we are aware of the recent tragedies that took place in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton -- and we are sensitive to their effects on our students. Regrettably, we live in a world that is more vulnerable than we would like it to be. Like you, our teachers and staff will make every attempt to give our students a voice. They will respond with respect and genuine concern when students share their feelings and perspectives about the safety and cultures of their schools.
It is important for you to know, and for the senior leaders of the district to say, that PSD is not a place for hate or racism. We will not tolerate it.
We will take every step necessary to protect our students from those who intend to inflict harm. PSD holds the expectation that every person is valued for who they are, and we work with our students to build a learning and social environment that is characterized by mutual respect. We also care enough about our students to hold them accountable for their actions when they don’t live up to these expectations. As parents and guardians, you should expect nothing less.
Here in PSD, we know we are doing our best to build an inclusive environment, but we’re not perfect. We face challenges in our schools because the same challenges exist in our communities. Just as we teach our kids, we are human and learn every day. We also won’t be able to protect our kids from everything as they travel through their PSD journey. As adults, we are rational enough to know that we can do our best, but that our children will encounter situations and events that requires resilience they don’t yet know they have.
We will continue to talk about our differences because we know that the diversity we have in PSD is a special gift for our children. Our community is a mosaic of languages, cultures, traditions, and values that come together to form a stunning collective image. Let’s continue to celebrate that gift.
We don’t have to agree on everything, but we model for and teach our children what it means to listen to and respect one another. PSD honors and values differences. We know that you are having difficult conversations at home, just like the ones we continue to have in school. You are your child’s first and most important teacher, and we thank you for your partnership.
Together, we are PSD.
Sandra Smyser, Ph.D.