Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot. To submit a question, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Question – I love that the preschool is getting money to improve, but the kindergarten needs their money back that was cut so the OEK can continue. Our district should be having every school have the OEK not just title one. Please work on getting our funding back.
Answer – We have supported and implemented both optional extended-day kindergarten (O.E.K.) and preschool in Granite School District for many years, and will take advantage of any opportunity we have to expand and/or improve these programs. When the Utah State Board of Education made grant funds available in the preschool area for this year, we eagerly applied. We’re delighted that we had funding awarded to serve an additional 500 students with preschool services. Should the state make additional funding available to expand O.E.K. services, we will certainly do all we can to be awarded those funds as well.
Thanks for the comment and thanks to Teaching & Learning Services for assistance in responding.
As the holidays are upon us I’ve been thinking about our work and the conditions we face both in our professional and personal lives. This very morning the news was full of reports from Berlin, Germany and a senseless attack that took the lives of many and injured scores more. As I have extended family in and around Berlin, it has been very personal to me. There were additional stories from other parts of the world this morning as well, and this year has been full of stories with similar refrains.
As I’ve thought about this, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Civil War poem (later put to music), “I heard the bells on Christmas Day,” has come to mind. I’d like to share these thoughts with you.
Longfellow looks out on his world and sees war and death, and deep divisions between former friends and even in families. Then he hears the “belfries of all Christendom” pealing a message of peace. He writes:
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then from somewhere inside of him, or perhaps from outside of him, a spirit of hope emerges and he continues:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, not doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
Without question we live in a world and in a time with considerable turmoil. Much more so than in 1864, modern media brings the images and sounds of turmoil into our homes and increasingly into the very palms of our hands. The images and sounds strongly send the message that hate is strong and that hate mocks the song of peace on earth and good will. However, drawing strength from either an internal or external source, my hope for each of us is that we can transcend despair and live our lives with hope and joy.
This past Sunday pipes froze and then burst at Pleasant Green Elementary. Almost immediately plumbing and cleanup crews responded and worked through the night to have school open and safe for kids Monday. Four classrooms were severely disrupted with damage to equipment and personal property. Last night I got an email from Sharon Prescott the principal, letting me know her gratitude for the people who responded and worked to secure, clean and prepare the school. She didn’t minimize the loss or the difficulty the affected teachers are experiencing, but she wanted to be sure that those who had gone above and beyond what might have been expected were recognized and thanked.
Those thanks have been extended, but I also want to thank Sharon and so many others of you, leaders every one regardless of title, who keep good will in your hearts and words despite conditions all around you. Your voices and good will strengthen me and, I suspect, each one of us with your positive outlook – not minimizing the challenges or difficulties, but choosing to see and call out positive things that are also all around us. Again, my sincere thanks to all of you.
In my home we celebrate Christmas, so from our home to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas. Many of you celebrate differently than do we and I wish you the happiest of holidays during this time. Regardless of our celebrations, may we all take the opportunity to express love and appreciation to our family and friends, recognizing and thanking those who sacrifice on our behalf and in their own ways spread peace on earth and good will to men.
Thanks to all of you, for being with us and for all you do!
Over the past couple of days, patrons and employees from across the district have shared concerns and even anecdotes with me. I’d like to take the opportunity to address those concerns.
As a personal matter, my father’s family came to America in 1633, nearly 150 years before there was a United States of America. On the other hand, I was born only five years after my mother immigrated to this country, having twice fled her home – once when it was reduced to rubble by bombs and once for political reasons. I was born here in America and served in the United States Army, including a deployment in Europe during Desert Storm. I am fiercely patriotic and a proud and loyal citizen of the United States. My own story is not very different from many, if not most, stories across our great country.
Part of my pride in the United States is our fundamental constitutional commitment to providing equal protection to all under the law. Not many years ago, one of our sister states sought to exclude children residing in their state without proper documentation from attending school. The United States Supreme Court, in holding that children cannot be grouped and then excluded from school or otherwise treated differently in school because of documentation or some other status such as race, religion, national origin, gender, disability or political views stated: “It is difficult to understand precisely what the State hopes to achieve by promoting the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime.”
It is consequently unlawful and inappropriate for children in schools to be treated differently from other children on the basis of some status. Behavior yes, status no. There is no such thing as “our kids” and “their kids” or “those kids.” All kids are “our kids.”
I call on all of our employees, teachers and administrators alike, to let no student feel that they are somehow second class or at risk of losing something because of a status. I encourage parents, patrons and community members to do likewise.
Thanks for the great job you all do!