KEA Board Speech – January 10th Meeting

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On behalf of the KEA, we thank you for the counter offer that you submitted to us this evening. We look forward to our meeting with you on January 26th. 

I was moved by an article that appeared in Ed Week that was written by Peter DeWitt.  He says: “There are both academic and emotional losses to be overcome in our schools. Meanwhile, an equally significant loss is pending in our schools, loss of people.”

He goes on to explain that stressors and the mental health of students, teachers, support staff, and administrators are high. We can’t rely on routine. Routine doesn’t exist anymore, at least as we have known it.  Staff shortages are rampant in many fields and schools are not immune. Schools are not able to fill vacancies and teachers and administrators are covering classes when substitutes can’t be found.  

Families are dealing with the trauma of the COVID pandemic and students are carrying their own burdens.  We see this in the classroom each day. 

As we prepare to administer MAP tests to our students this week, we must all keep in mind these burdens. Students are experiencing unprecedented academic and social-emotional losses across the country and this includes Sears School.  We are all doing our best under these circumstances. 

Yet, we need to remember that there are many great things still happening in our schoolhouse each day. We are teaching kids, connecting with them, helping them to navigate these times as students and people. We would have it no other way.  We are here for our students.

Empathy, appreciation, collaboration, grace, forgiveness, and willingness to work together are needed to get us through the year. If anyone has a chance to offer gratitude to an educator, I hope you will.

I will end by saying thank you to our nurse Terry Oquendo.  I could not do her job under normal circumstances, let alone handle the burden of the constantly changing CDC, CCDPH, IDPH, and ISBE guidelines and worrying about the health and well-being of your students.  We wish her all the best and hope her position is filled quickly.

Thank you,

Co-President: Toula Sideris