Eagle Eye on Education: School year can show New Albany community's strength

MICHAEL L. SAWYERS
Michael L. Sawyers

The New Albany-Plain Local School District successfully welcomed 1,508 students virtually and 3,575 students to an in-person hybrid attendance model to begin the unprecedented 2020-21 school year.

The ability to "own our R's (responses)" to press pause, build our skills and adjust and adapt has been absolutely amazing regardless of each student's or staff member's physical participation at home or on the school campus. We are very grateful for and proud of our students, parents, faculty and staff for their commitment to be kind, offer grace and demonstrate the flexibility necessary to attend school in new and historic ways.

Our purpose, "to create a culture of accountability that achieves the best academic and developmental outcomes for each student," remains ever present. Regardless of the physical location chosen to meet student and family needs to actively participate in school, student achievement, student growth and student well-being remain the core of our ability to put students first.

Our lives and schools have been disrupted for months now. I, like many of you, crave "normal" but realize that each and everyone one of us are empowered to create the "normal" that now is necessary for our students to be successful at school, at home and in our community.

"CommUnity" is required to find our path forward. Adapting to a life-altering pandemic has been hard on our psyches collectively.

Experts are seeing widespread spikes in anxiety and coping mechanisms as we all try to adapt. Children are not exempted.

Our ability to adjust also depends on processing the stress now present in healthy ways. Getting enough sleep, healthy eating, being active and staying socially connected through virtual means are pillars of self-care we must consciously recognize and practice in order to successfully serve and care for our students, our families, our staff, and our community.

Children are looking to the adults in their lives, both at home and at school, to determine how to respond to the daily realities now presented to each of us. We have a responsibility to demonstrate for and practice with our students the daily routines necessary to create a sense of calmness and control, which will permit each of them to positively influence the desired outcome of staying in school.

We are not in control of all of the E's (events) that continue to inundate us, but we can and will impact the outcome we desire via our actions and behaviors.

For all students to be safe and healthy in school, at home or on the learning campus, we, as a community, must continue to "mask up, back up and wash up" to keep kids in school and keep our community healthy and safe.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership and willingness to press pause, build skills and adjust and adapt to ensure that the 2020-21 school year is a great year for the 5,083 PK-12 students enrolled in the New Albany-Plain Local Schools.

Let's continue to own our R's and demonstrate to our students that we are stronger together.

Michael L. Sawyers is superintendent of the New Albany-Plain Local School District.