Today we welcome guest columnist Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, Superintendent of Upshur County Schools.
We are excited to start the 2021-2022 school year, a new beginning for everyone. This new school year is even more unique than years past. So much so that it feels as if we are all starting a new journey. We are transitioning from a long and difficult experience to one illuminated by lessons learned. The opening for this new year presents a natural opportunity for all of us to reflect on these lessons learned and to be future focused.
During this past year, we have witnessed our students, our staff, our faculty, and this proud, resilient Upshur County Community face challenges presented by the pandemic head-on, strengthening our conviction and love for our proud Buccaneer Family.
Though there have been many, we will focus on three lessons learned during this past year that will help guide us during the 2021-2022 school year.
First, we are resilient. Remember, a crisis is not just a bad thing that happened to us. It is an opportunity for us to grow. For more than a year now, we have discovered that we have an inner strength that we probably did not know we had. For many of us, we had to dig deeper than ever before, and what we found there, underneath frustration or exhaustion, was resilience. If we can tackle this crisis, we can take on anything. And…I do mean anything!
Lesson number two: All of us are stronger than one of us. Although we have spent much time apart from friends and family this past year, we have enjoyed an unprecedented sense of family and teamwork among all members of our Upshur County Community. Our team has worked long hours, teaching students, serving meals, preparing remote lessons, cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning—basically, getting things done together, but doing it remotely and following very strict CDC guidelines. It is my belief that given the ever-increasing global nature of nearly every organization in the world, the ability to work with and empathize with colleagues around the world will be invaluable to any career our students may choose to pursue. Working together for the good of all is a skill that can never be underestimated.
Lesson number three: You can do ANYTHING, but you cannot do EVERYTHING. We need each other to do what we do best. We need our teachers to teach, our cooks to feed our students, our bus drivers to safely transport, our mental health professionals to support students in crisis, our custodians to maintain clean facilities, our aides to facilitate learning for our students, our administrators to lead and support…and the list goes on. Most importantly, we need everyone to LOVE our children and to be kind. This is free—it costs nothing but has the greatest impact!
This is the year to put our Buccaneer pride to work, with the knowledge that we have the ability to overcome every challenge. What I have seen over the past year fills my heart with joy—the future will indeed be brighter because of our willingness to optimistically turn challenges into opportunities; to utilize our intellect, our strong will, and caring hearts to improve the well-being of our students, their families and this community.
May God bless you and keep you and your families healthy and prosperous. This is our year, Upshur County! —Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus