Message from the Superintendent


December 9, 2014

 

Dear Colleagues:

The word “community” gets used a great deal and in so many ways.  At times, it feels like such an abstract concept.  Is “community” based on a zip code?  Membership in an organization?  Gender or Cultural Identification?  Or, is it about one’s place of employment or affiliation with a non-profit? Maybe one bases “community” on a city or county or some other geographical distinction.  Maybe there are different types of communities and they are as abundant as the people who define and create them.

The word “community” comes from Latin “communis” which means things held in common.  Thus, in a broad and general sense, where people hold things in common they are in a community.  In this sense, we can be part of a community even when not physically present, just as some are members of virtual communities using on-line technology or through beliefs and affiliations that transcend traditional boundaries.

How then do we find or establish “community” in schools?  Is it a product of the school, department, location, or position we serve?  For some these are likely criteria and certainly have their place.  Perhaps these criteria also work for students and parents who attend or are involved in our schools, sports, clubs, or activities.  The most important thing in all of this is what we bring or add to a community.  In this light our motives and interactions with others are really important.  We can be people who, by our words and actions, are constructive and seek to add value, affirm others, and strengthen the community; or,  we can seek only to extract and take away from the community to benefit ourselves in a more narrow way. Yes, how we behave in our community is a very important dimension.

In my view, the greatest danger to “community” in present times are not the obvious threats, but rather those who don’t want to accept or embrace that they are a vital member of the community in which we all live.  They believe by exercising their power of choice, they can select their way through life and simply participate or not in different elements of “community”.  For example, why should one pay for roads on which they don’t drive?  Why should one pay for public schools, when they don’t have children or their own kids have graduated?  Why should persons in a community support other types of public service or infrastructure when they don’t use them?  And the most disheartening choice, why should we care about people who are not in “our” community?

You see, at some point each person needs to come to terms that at some level, however one chooses to define their life in “community”, we are ultimately, all in this together.  We may choose to be members of or identify with smaller communities, but we are all in this vast community together. We may be separated by languages, oceans, economics, or the like – and some may have the ability to select their way through events and avoid others along life’s choice driven path – still, in all reality, we are all interconnected in this life and we best work to make it work well for ourselves, our loved ones, and yes, even people we may not know or choose to align with based on our more narrow definitions. 

An inclusive community is attained when we see ourselves in “community” with all other people and then choose to add value rather than seek out how to ignore or avoid others.  Being part of community in this way, isn’t someone else’s responsibility -- it is a trusted role given to each of us equally.

Thank you for being such a positive presence and force for good in our community! 

Sincerely,

Nick   

Last Modified on December 8, 2014