Message from Superintendent Richard L. Gregg
Dear Christina Family and Friends,
Evan Hansen, in the musical Dear Evan Hansen, confesses at a pivotal moment that “words fail” to express how he feels. I confess words fail me now in these extraordinarily difficult times we face together as a school district and larger community, society, and nation. What words can I say or share at this moment that will be meaningful or resonate with you?
I state clearly and unequivocally, I condemn racism and any racist actions. I stand with my black and brown colleagues and friends and declare you matter to me and to the many students and people who have the pleasure and privilege to know and work with you. You make a positive difference in my life and in the lives of all who are fortunate to work by your side and learn from you.
My time remaining with Christina School District is brief. When I depart on June 30, I entrust the future of our students into your hands to teach. Please remember to make time to teach lessons of caring and compassion, of love and respect, mixed in with math and English. Assure families that you will provide and maintain a culture of respect and dignity in your safe and nurturing classrooms and schools. Our black and brown students need us more than ever, and we must reassure them and their families that we care about them and will care for them.
We are teachers. Our students of every color look to us to teach them every day. They count on us to provide safe learning environments in a culture of care and compassion. Our students rely on us to stand for them and be there to support each one of them – every one of them – every color of them.
During my 39-year career, I have endeavored to maintain safe and caring environments in the classrooms and schools for which I had responsibility. In every aspect of my life, I have committed to treating others as I desire to be treated. We must all make that commitment to our school community. We must treat our students the way we wish our own children to be treated, and we must treat parents the way we wish to be treated as parents. If we model the change we want to see in our community, our country, and the world; we will force out hate and bigotry and prejudice. As we navigate these challenging times, my hope is that we remain unified in care for our young people, the most vulnerable, and the communities in which we live and work.
Our school community relies on us – the educators – to teach our students the skills and knowledge they need to be contributing members of the community and society for which they will eventually assume responsibility and leadership. Let us be the ones who model respect, compassion, equity, and justice with kindness, compassion, and love as the norm. We must reject racism and confront racist actions and stand up and speak out when we see injustice. Our students will seek to understand these recent events, and many questions will surface. They will turn to the adults, and we must listen and answer with honesty and sympathy. We must teach them to peacefully stand up against injustice and inequity, recognizing that violence is never the answer.
Bob Dylan asks, “How many ears must one person have before he can hear people cry? And how many deaths will it take ‘til he knows that too many people have died?” Our colleagues, students, and families of color are crying for all of us to hear them, see them, be there for them... they are hurting. Too many have died, and one death is too many. The answer my friends is that we must stand together with them in these most difficult times, a time we would not have imagined being repeated in our lives. Schools have been a beacon of hope and stability for our students and community due in large part to the role educators play in making a significant, meaningful difference in the lives of the children and the families we serve. We can, and we must be that hope and stability for our students now. Their future and their lives literally depend on it.
When “words fail,” let your actions speak for you. I wish you peace.
Richard L. Gregg