Earlier this week someone asked me how the district is doing and I replied that I thought we’d gotten off to a remarkably smooth start. Then I remembered that it was mid-December. I mentioned this at home, that it seemed that the year is just flying by. My children suggested with straight faces that they have heard that old people think time passes more quickly each year.
My disrespectful children’s comments about my age notwithstanding, the first half of this year seems to have gone quickly but also eventfully. I am excited about the long-range facilities master plan and the bond that was approved by Granite voters last month – architects are already working on the high school rebuilds, and remodels and rebuilds for multiple other schools are kicking off as well. I really believe that the plan is a solid one for the next couple of decades, shortly falling into a cadence of a new elementary a year, a new junior high every four years and a new high school every eight. Additionally, schools will have a mid-life cycle remodel. This will ensure great learning and working conditions for our kids and employees long into the future. I’m grateful to our board of education for taking the time to develop the plan and for having the gumption to put it in front of the voters. I’m grateful to the voters for supporting the plan and thereby supporting all of us.
Another threshold our district crossed this year has to do with poverty. More than 60% of our kids qualify for free lunch. All of you are noting the impact this has on our work. Many of our elementary schools and even some junior highs have washers and dryers in the offices and kids line up to throw in dirty clothes and grab the clothes washed for them the previous day. Bless some soul, probably a secretary, who does the laundry every day. This is of course just one example but it begs the question: Is this our job? No way. But if we don’t do it, no one will. I am so grateful for all of you, pulling for these kids – some of whom seem to be fighting us the whole way. Very few solutions will fix every challenge, and I know our behavior and intervention efforts won’t solve everything, but I refuse to not do what we can do because we can’t do everything. Again, I am so grateful for your efforts and thoughtful suggestions.
I want to share a thought with you. More than 30 years ago I announced to my family that I was going to be a teacher. My dad, who was more than 25 years into his own education career, opened his mouth to say something, closed it again and then put his arm around my shoulders and told me that he was proud of me. He went on to say that there is no nobler profession than education and absolutely no more important profession than education. I used to wonder what thoughts were forming in his mind when he first opened his mouth. I say I used to wonder because three of my kids and counting are either teaching already or in school to become teachers. It runs through my mind how difficult the challenges are they will face over the course of their respective careers. Challenges far beyond how to teach this child or group of children how to master a particular math objective. But I don’t say that to them, I talk with them about the role teachers play in sustaining our society and very literally shaping the future. I tell them that there is no nobler nor more important profession than education. There are no more crucial people in our communities than teachers and those who support teachers so they can practice their profession. I believe this with all my heart, I teach it to my own kids, and I honor all of you for being who you are and doing what you do. If a team effort was ever needed, it is now. To all of you, whether you’ve been with us for six months or more than thirty years, I know you have other options, I thank you for choosing Granite. I truly believe we have the best team ever.
As many of you know, in the Bates home we celebrate Christmas, so, speaking personally and from my home to yours, Merry Christmas. To all of you, however you recognize the holidays or this upcoming break, I wish you peace and an opportunity to hold your loved ones close.