I am reflecting on the recent national, state, local and even school district events that have occurred following our presidential election. In some instances, we have seen a heightened number of hate-related incidents toward some populations—including women, sexual minorities and people from various racial, religious and ethnic groups.
I have always believed that through education, we can change the world. Our foundational beliefs, which I have stated over and over again, are that we want every student, staff member and community member within our school population and community to feel loved, respected, valued and capable–and that they belong. These foundational beliefs are what allow people to feel safe taking risks in learning and growing outside of their comfort zone. It saddens me that at this time in our nation, we are seeing these five basic emotional needs come under attack.
I want those whom we serve to know that we will support and protect you and to know that these rights apply to all those we come in contact with. Such respect is not dependent on your race or ethnicity, family background, religion, customs or beliefs. In the Peninsula School District, we affirm that you are respected, valued, loved and an important member of our school community whatever your sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or academic needs. We will support you, embrace you and value you as individual human beings.
I urge you to be kind and caring to one another. Redouble your support for one another. And even though we cannot always control what is going on in the larger world around us, we can define our own school and our own community.
I am reminded that education is more than just teaching kids. It is about uplifting humanity. Education is more than getting kids across the finish line of high school graduation. It is about changing the destinies of people, families and generations to come. Education is about empowering people to overcome barriers that in the past have dragged down individuals, families and even whole communities.
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education replaces war with tolerance, compassion and understanding, and provides solutions that can offer lasting change and sustainable outcomes.
In the Peninsula School District, we pledge to keep our students safe and welcome at school. If this is not the case for you or others you know, please tell a trusted adult so that we might address it immediately.
I have been so impressed with this community and the support you have for one another. Let’s recommit to these efforts and ensure that we truly do change the world for today and future generations to come.
Rob Manahan is the superintendent of the Peninsula School District.