As the new year approaches, I would like to wish everyone in the South Orangetown Community a happy and healthy holiday season! This past year was a period of intense growth that was the function of our commitment to building a culture of excellence. After we return from our winter recess this January, we will rededicate ourselves towards reaching every student by making them feel cared for and empowered. In 2020, we will continue to make relationship-building our top priority because positive relationships are the currencies upon which a culture of excellence is built.
This is the season when many of our families celebrate the importance of joy, peace, hope and love. These are not unfamiliar concepts in our school culture and I am challenging each of our employees at SOCSD to be, what Jimmy Casas refers to as “merchants of hope” for all students. In his book, Culturize, Jimmy Casas suggests that we educators can evoke positive responses from our students and build a productive school culture by:
- Bringing our best to work every day, whatever our best may be that day. Be grateful that we get the opportunity to make a positive impact on a child every day!
- Giving two minutes of our time to one student and one staff member every day. Be intentional with our time and then follow up with a quick word or note. The small things can make all the difference.
- Being empathetic. Taking the time to understand, share, and be sensitive to another person’s feelings is critical in building a culture of trust. Every student and staff member will face some sort of challenge at one time or another.
- Valuing the mistakes of others. Risk takers are born here. If we make a mistake, own it, apologize, and work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
- Modeling forgiveness – if we want to be effective leaders, we must be willing to sincerely accept an apology and move on. Believe that most people’s intentions are good.
- Understanding that we will not always see immediate results when working with kids. Be patient and think long-term. Many are just testing a system which has failed them many times over long before we came into the picture.
- Having high standards for all kids every day. Do not make excuses for kids based on race, socio-economic class, environment or poor parenting, etc. Believe in all kids all of the time (it also helps if you love them all of the time too!)
- Acknowledging inappropriate behavior of kids. By not doing so we are sending a message that they are not worth it or we have given up. If we hesitate to correct poor behavior based on their response to us, we have become part of the problem.
- Not being negative. Constant complaining and being negative about kids, staff, work environment, etc. without offering a solution says more about us than it does about those who we are complaining about. Bring positive energy every day.
- Taking time to smile/laugh and encourage others to have fun. When it is no longer fun to go to work, it is time to do something else.
Again, here’s wishing all of our families, friends, staff, and students a joyous holiday season (filled with hope, peace, and love)…I am looking forward to seeing everyone back after the winter recess well-rested and ready to learn!