As we start a new school year and I reflect back on my first year as superintendent, I am reminded of where our country was 12 months ago.

Hatred was threatening to tear our society apart during the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia, and we had to decide who we are as a people. In a climate of angst, negative discourse and disrespect, we will continue to condemn intolerance and violence and encourage teaching kindness, respect, acceptance, inclusiveness and appreciation for all humankind as we welcome our kids back to school.

As a district, there will always be work to do to change behavior, to establish firm guidelines and expectations and to instill a sense of humanity and compassion in our students, and we are excited to do that work.

If you watch the news or are active on social media, you will see that some subscribe to the notion that if two people do not share the same opinion, then they have to be combative. We cannot be so quick to judge and, while there may be a level of discord, it should not have an impact on how we treat each other within our community.

The bottom line is, at the end of the day, we must be advocates for our children. Despite whatever ills we must confront, the Reynoldsburg school district is and will continue to provide a supportive environment for all of our students. They deserve a positive atmosphere where they can grow and learn so they can thrive and be the positive contributors to our society that I know they can be.

We can still express ourselves respectfully, without hate or intolerance. As a community, I feel that we understand this premise and we appreciate the need to come together and remain supportive of each other.

Be proud of who you are and of what you contribute to our community. I am proud of the work we have done. We must continue to rely on our partners such as first responders, city officials and community members to work with us to ensure that we foster an environment of openness, inclusiveness and human kindness. A human being can learn, love, and live such qualities as honestly, equality, respect, truth and appreciation.

I was happy to welcome our students back to class last week and am excited to help mold them into citizens of the world, to do good, not only for themselves and their community, but for their world.

Together, we remain #reynproud!

Melvin Brown is superintendent of Reynoldsburg schools. This column is provided to ThisWeek Reynoldsburg News by his office.