Tuesday, June 17, 2014

True Colors

For the past 19 years I have worked in a community that has experienced dramatic population growth. As a result our school population has grown in proportion to our town. One thing that has remained a priority over the course of my career, has been a commitment to helping establish a culture, where people feel a strong sense of belonging and where they can grow. With an annual increase of staff and students, we have experienced our share of growing pains over the years. However I would argue that the culture within our building, although always a work in progress, continues to be a constructive effort of all of the stakeholders within our school community.

We are a unique school community as we are essentially a grade 4-8 middle school.  The 4th and 5th grades are configured more as an upper elementary school and the 6th through 8th grades take on the characteristics of  a middle school. We have successfully educated over one thousand students due to the efforts of dedicated educators for many years now. Within the next couple of years due to new construction within the district, the fourth grade will return to the elementary school that they left many years ago and we will return to our original 5-8 middle school configuration.  Although not the ideal situation, we have all made it work for quite awhile. While it may seem that the current configuration has created two separate schools,  we are in fact one school, proud and unified.  We are a family and we care a great deal about each other. Never had this been more apparent than on Friday, June 6 when the members of our school community stood together in a unified effort to show support for one of our beloved colleagues.

Several weeks ago we learned that one of our own, a beloved teacher, colleague and friend was diagnosed with stage three Pancreatic Cancer. While in a fight for her life, it is a fight that she is determined to win. At first our staff was saddened and greatly concerned to learn that someone we care a great deal about was enduring this life altering challenge. However leaders within our building quickly took action and have launched a multifaceted assistance campaign to help our dear friend.   One of the ideas was to sell t-shirts throughout the school and supporting community.  This allowed many people connected to our school community to quickly get involved in an effort to provide assistance and support. The t-shirts are purple,(the symbolic color of Pancreatic Cancer) and they contain the motto of our friend " SEE YOU AT THE FINISH LINE."

This past Friday, the majority of our staff and several of our students in an awesome show of support, compassion and love, arrived at school wearing the t-shirt that you see in the picture above. In all of my years as a member of this school community, I continue to be impressed by our ability to send loud messages of support, compassion and unity to others, when they are needed the most.  Although the road ahead is long and is of the toughest to endure, one thing is for sure, we will continue to support our friend unconditionally as she continues on this painstaking journey.

Although we do not live in harmony within our school community 100% of the time, or anywhere close to it for that matter, there is one thing for certain.  When one of our own is hurting or suffering, we will always turn out and support them. The future for our friend remains uncertain but we will be there at the "finish line" to meet her and embrace her when she rids herself of this disease . Meanwhile we will continue to show our "true colors" and support her, as she makes every effort to arrive there.

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