It’s truly amazing the difference a year can make! As I wrap up my 29th year in public education, I’ve come to realize that one of the incredible things about the work we do is that we are lucky enough to get a clearly defined sense of closure every year. That’s something that, before the pandemic, many of us took for granted. That closure, culminating with school celebrations, grade-level award ceremonies, field days, and of course, seven graduation ceremonies full of pomp and circumstance, is an important opportunity to celebrate our success and reflect on all it took to get us there.
There aren’t many careers that annually have such a clear beginning, middle, and end, or careers that allow for large-scale celebrations like these to mark the end of each year’s journey. It’s one of the reasons, however, that many people like me are drawn to education. Whether you’re an elementary teacher, a middle school guidance counselor, a high school bus driver, or the superintendent, the end of the year provides an opportunity to see your impact on students as they head on to the next phase of their lives.
Often at this time of year, we find ourselves celebrating the big things – the straight A’s, the state championship teams, and the college acceptance letters, but as we’ve seen this year, the small wins are often really where our success truly lies.
We saw that just recently at Crestwood Intermediate School when 4th grader Capen Steel led a community project to create handmade hearts featuring inspirational messages for every student and staff member at her school.
We saw it when the Deep Creek Hornets Softball team supported a member of the opposing team, Western Branch senior Emma Eckhart after she unexpectedly lost her mother this season.
We saw it in the success of six students at Deep Creek Elementary who were honored with “Growth Mindset Awards” and were gifted brand new bicycles thanks to the generosity and support of the Virginia State Police.
We saw it in the creative ways students responded to this year’s Chesapeake Council PTA Reflections contest theme, “I will change the world by….” Using photography, dance, visual arts, and more our students demonstrated that the future is in good hands.
These are just a few of the countless ways we can measure the success of this school year. And whether you are one of our dedicated employees, one of our supportive family members, or one of our generous community or business partners, all I can say is that your efforts to ensure this success are noticed, appreciated, and applauded.
As our graduates head out into the world this week, I hope you’ll join me in honoring their success. It’s been 13 years in the making, and those 13 years have been filled with moments, big and small, just like the ones I shared with you here. Moments that have created intelligent, kind, and creative people fully prepared to make their mark on the world.
But just in case our seniors need a few more words of wisdom before they become adults, our kindergarteners from Rena B. Wright Primary School have some great advice to share too: