For several days, I found myself stuck.

The tragic events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School left me filled with so many thoughts and emotions that I found myself unable to truly engage in even the most routine parts of my day.

As I drove to school early Monday morning, the words and the quiet time to process them finally came that got me unstuck and recharged. Those words came from President Obama as I listened to the speech he gave the night before at the interfaith vigil in Newtown, Connecticut.

“They will suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments, and we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear. And we know we can’t do this by ourselves.

 It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself, that this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation.

 And in that way we come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child, because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours, that we’re all parents, that they are all our children.

 This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.”

This particular portion of his speech reminded me I didn’t have time to be stuck. As an educator, I was called to be part of one of the most important professions in the world. Our children, and their future, depends on the work we do every day. We need to get it right!

I find myself more committed and passionate than ever to providing our children with the best educational experience possible. As we nurture their individual potential and prepare them to thrive in a complex and interdependent world, the following will continue to be priorities in Lower School:

  • Community

All members of our community need to be known, cared for, and safe. We need to challenge each other daily to respect ourselves, each other, and our learning spaces.

  • Character

The seven traits of our Character Tree — Courage, Compassion, Respect, Responsibility, Honor, Spirit, and Dedication — need to be embodied by the adults and instilled in our students.

  • Collaboration

We need to work together. Students need opportunities to collaborate on their learning so they are fully prepared for the expectations that will be required of them beyond their experience in Lower School.

  • Communication

Open, honest, and authentic conversations are essential. Our children need to learn how to effectively communicate in multiple formats. The adults are charged with not only modeling this for the students, but also providing them with opportunities to learn and apply the skills needed.

  • Critical Thinking

The responsibility for asking and answering high level questions needs to be shared with our students. Students need to be presented with challenges and problems to solve.

  • Cross Cultural Competency

Our world continues to become more diverse, and it is critical that our children learn to acknowledge, understand, appreciate, and celebrate the differences that exist. We must support them in this process and provide them with the skills and strategies to be culturally competent.

This has been a difficult time for so many and it is my hope that the days ahead are filled with…

Hope, Peace, Love, Faith, and Joy

 Happy Holidays!

Full transcript of President Obama’s speech from the Washington Post

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