• June 2020

     

    Superintendent's Message

    Dear GBSD Staff,

    As the 2019-20 school year draws to a close, I wanted to share how grateful I am to each and every one of you. Since March 16, when the school closure began due to COVID-19, the commitment you have shownPerera to the families we serve has been nothing short of admirable. Recent events have reminded us that we have additional challenges to overcome, and are a reminder that we as K-12 educators have an obligation to work with our community to dismantle discriminatory systems. It is a time for listening and learning. We must all strive to become culturally responsive educators and encourage our colleagues to do the same.

    It’s really all about doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of our students. You have demonstrated that when we come together as one, the impossible becomes possible. Because of your work over the last several months, even though school buildings have been closed, the learning has continued. District staff designed and implemented our Distance Learning for All program in less than a week’s time, and staff distributed 3000+ devices. As we have reviewed our efforts, we know that we have connected with 96% of our students. Student engagement week by week has ranged from 65% to 88% depending on the level. I know you have worked hard to engage with students in this unique learning environment. Thank you for all you have done!

    During Distance Learning for All, we have also ensured our students have continued to receive meals. I am proud to share that since our meals program began in mid-March, we have served more than 145,000 meals. This is an incredible accomplishment! Additionally, thanks to the work of staff members in all departments, our school district has continued to operate efficiently and effectively.

    In this time of pain, suffering, and growing division - we must recognize the toll COVID19 and the national tragedies have taken on our students, their families, and all staff. Going forward, it will be even more important that we all lean in a little deeper into equity work to gain stronger skills, insights—that will help us debunk systems that support institutional inequalities. At no other time throughout my 25-plus years in public education, or in our collective memory, has it been more evident as to why our work on equity is crucial.

    Each and every one of us can and should embrace the lessons of these past few months and infuse them into our everyday lives. Your spark and motivation to help eradicate inequities must transition to a “ray of light” that shines on. We must shine our light in our classrooms, in our interactions with our students, in our halls, on our busses, and in our family engagement activities.

    Each of us must be willing to expose and rebuild systems, policies, procedures, or action that makes students feel invisible or not worthy. Instead, our actions have to be free of messages that convey to students that they are dangerous, academically challenged, or that they are simply not worth the extra effort to ensure that they thrive. We must also convey messages to our students that do not reinforce enabling or make them feel less prepared academically. We have a lot to be proud of and at the same time - we have a lot that needs to change. We can do better!

    In that change for the better, we have to begin with a shared understanding of how we can work collaboratively to build a better future. We have to focus on our WHY and not on just how we will do things. Without knowing our WHY - we have no HOPE. Without hope - we would give up easily. I feel confident in knowing that I am not alone when restating that WE CAN DO BETTER by following our why, keeping hope in sight, and knowing that together - we will create a more just and equitable education system for each GBSD student.

    As you process what this means for you and your work in 2020-2021, I challenge you to be thinking about how in the coming school year, you will create spaces in our lunchrooms, on our buses, in our brick/mortar classrooms or during extended distance learning, in daily interactions, in our instruction, while coaching sports or club teams, during staff meetings, during our professional learning communities, and in our dialogues with each other that contributes to debunking systems of inequities and oppression. Our charge is to ensure that each student is INSPIRED, EMPOWERED, and will become culturally relevant graduates who will THRIVE in an ever-changing global community.

    Our ability to remain committed during this critical time will undoubtedly challenge our character - but our actions, good or bad, will be remembered by many. The Gresham-Barlow community shall be the beneficiary of this herculean effort!

    On behalf of the Gresham-Barlow Board of Directors, thank you for all you have done. Thank you for persevering despite the obstacles. Thank you for ensuring our students continued to THRIVE!

    Have a wonderful summer.

     

    Yours in education,

    Perera Signature

    Dr. A. Katrise Perera
    Superintendent of Schools