As educators, we’ve dedicated our life’s work to children and education, so I’ve always felt schools were important to not only educate our students, but to serve our community. The past months have challenged us to do just that.
Over the last eight weeks, our food services team has provided 110,000 meals for children in our community. Our teachers have held more than 250,000 virtual connections, in addition to countless phone calls and outreach with families who don’t have reliable internet access. Our Distance Learning plan has been guided by a genuine love of children and learning: relationships before rigor, grace before grades, patience before programs, and love before lessons.
As adults, thinking back on our own experiences, did we learn much from people we didn’t trust or respect? The answer is likely not. As educators, we want our students to know that C-I teachers and staff are advocates for their future and that we truly care about our students and families. It’s about connections. It’s about community.
On June 5, we are looking forward to graduating an incredible senior class! We will record a drive-up ceremony and replay graduation on YouTube in the coming weeks; please tune in. We’ve known that our C-I seniors are a special group of students who have made it their purpose to care and lead. They have experienced tremendous accomplishments during their K-12 years in Cambridge-Isanti Schools. More recently, we’ve learned some additional lessons about them:
1. We are graduating self-directed, resilient problem-solvers who are helpful and committed to our community. They have faced uncertainty with persistence and resolve.
2. They are self-reliant but know how to ask for help when needed. They see an interconnectedness—a sense of community—that many adults discover much later in life.
3. They know their futures hold complex challenges, which only life long learners can solve. We are #InThisTogether will be a guiding principle that calls them to serve their friends and neighbors.
Schools have a responsibility for graduating the next generation of leaders: in business, in government, in non-profit and in civic life. And in the Class of 2020, I am confident we have exceptional leaders for the future.
As a new superintendent, the past months have provided some reflections for me as well:
1. Our Cambridge-Isanti staff would do anything for our community; they are your neighbors and friends. They have demonstrated compassion and grace, while pulling out the best in each of their students. In tough times, we come together.
2. Our community deeply supports our students. It has been overwhelming to receive a groundswell of support for our seniors, for our schools, and our district. Our most recent Dollars for Scholars success is one of many great examples of this support. Our students are the beneficiaries of the Dollars for Scholars Committee’s dedication and the generosity of our community.
3. Together, we can do amazing things! Last week, we assembled a community advisory group to think about how our school district can help local businesses jump-start our local economy. We are happy to support local businesses through our communication channels or through community service and are beginning to look into creative ways to help. Please reach out if you have an idea, or if we can be of assistance.
Looking forward, we have permission from the Department of Education to resume limited summer programming, under strict health and safety guidelines. We are looking into various options and will continue to plan accordingly.
This pandemic has forced school districts to innovate and problem-solve under ever-changing and unpredictable timelines. In reflection, I am so proud of the work that our teams have done. We will need to continue to think creatively about our future. We recognize that reopening our schools is significant for our students’ education and necessary for the vitality of our community and economy. We are committed to working collaboratively with community leaders, parents, and citizens to do so.
Twenty years from now, we’ll look back on Spring 2020 and realize its historical significance. It has offered us an opportunity to serve each other and support all in our community, the Bluejacket Way.
DR. NATE RUDOLPH is superintendent of Cambridge-Isanti Schools.