A Gift of Thanks

As we head into Thanksgiving break this week, I realize just how much we have to be thankful for in our district despite all the challenges this year has presented. 

Give the Gift of ThanksI know most of us were hoping that this year would have more of a feeling of normalcy. Instead, the continued weight of the pandemic has remained heavy. It created obstacles and challenges we never saw coming, including staffing and supply shortages that made the work we do even more difficult. 

Despite all of that, I’ve consistently seen our students, teachers, and staff members use those challenges to create opportunities – opportunities to reconnect with one another, opportunities to serve, and most importantly opportunities to be thankful. 

Earlier this month, I challenged our staff to share their thanks through video messages of gratitude to a colleague who helps to lighten their load. We were overwhelmed with the heartfelt responses we received, like this one from third-year teacher Ronald Riffle to his administrative team at Sparrow Road Intermediate:

Or this sincere message of gratitude from Cathryn Johnson to her friend and colleague, Tina Reardon, at Great Bridge Primary School.  

Dr. Cotton delivers a Gift of Thanks to Trudy Jelderks. We received almost 300 submissions of thanks to staff members across our district from our New Construction and Planning department to the 7th-grade team at Western Branch Middle School and everyone in between. 

Gift of Thanks recipients from Greenbrier Primary School Our Chesapeake Educational Foundation that consistently supports our staff through professional development opportunities, the Teacher Supply Store, and their instructional grant program graciously offered to extend this campaign of gratitude one step further. With their generous support, each recipient of a “Gift of Thanks” video message also received a $20 Panera gift card as an added appreciation for all they do. 

I loved the opportunity to join some of our Chesapeake Educational Foundation Board Members and members of my Superintendent’s Cabinet to deliver the gift cards just before the holiday break.  A huge thank you to the CPSEF Board for your continued commitment to supporting our staff. 

Hugo Owens Middle School receives the Gift of Thanks.

Educational Foundation Board Member Chris Crouch delivers the Gift of Thanks.This initiative was a simple reminder of what I’m most grateful for each day as Superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools – every individual that makes education in our community their passion and priority. 

I hope that this week you find the time to reflect on what makes you most grateful and to offer your thanks to the people you are most grateful for.