Wishing all a season of hope
We've been through some challenging times. We've seen and heard examples of intolerance across the nation, in our community and in our schools. Thankfully, there have been rays of hope shining through as well. In the midst of negativity and intol...
We've been through some challenging times. We've seen and heard examples of intolerance across the nation, in our community and in our schools. Thankfully, there have been rays of hope shining through as well. In the midst of negativity and intolerant behaviors, messages and examples of inclusiveness and acceptance are breaking through.
Recently, on a walk through one of our schools, I heard something that made me smile with hope:
"And a Happy Hanukkah to you!"
So went a conversation between two students in the hallway, and it was refreshing to hear their mutual respect. It serves as a continuing example of how our young people are supporting each other and learning about each other's beliefs and cultures. They may not always use the perfect approach, but their willingness to be vulnerable and to make an effort helps them continuously learn more about each other.
This is the time of year when schools invite parents and community members to musical programs. It's not uncommon to hear comments and see posts on social media about how much people enjoy seeing the many talents of our students. Some people also share their longing for "the good old days" when schools sometimes referred to them as Christmas programs and included only traditional Christmas music. That's understandable, when Christmas is part of who you are, part of your family and your culture and tradition, but there is so much more.
Our strength as a nation lies in our ability to include and embrace many cultures, traditions and beliefs. I can remember, as a child, the students who stayed back in the classroom during the "Christmas program" because their beliefs and traditions did not align with those of the majority. I felt sad for them and could tell they weren't comfortable and felt out of place. And it wasn't just at Christmas. There were many times during the year when cultural differences created barriers and built walls between us.
We've come a long way since then, recognizing the value of creating environments where people of many different cultures, traditions and beliefs can feel comfortable and valued. Whether people celebrate Christmas, Omisoka, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Yule, the Fiesta of Our Lady Guadalupe, or don't have any celebrations during this season, they are welcome in our schools. Our traditions, events and instruction should reflect the rich diversity of our students and their families. There is so much for us to learn and celebrate about each other.
Hope is something that transcends all cultures and propels us forward. It gets us up in the morning and motivates our work. Even when everything seems to go wrong, if you have hope you will find a way to rebound. And so, I wish you all a season of hope and of peace.