November 23, 2020
A message from the Superintendent of Schools Dr. A. Katrise Perera:
Thankful and Grateful
Dear GBSD Staff,
This time of year each of us will likely pause to reflect on all that we are thankful for in both our personal and professional lives. We have a lot to be thankful for in the Gresham-Barlow School District. It may be hard to identify outright - but I am sure that each of us has witnessed the tireless dedication and commitment on behalf of our students. We can be grateful for the support we offer each other. We can be thankful for the challenges that made us approach and think differently about solving a problem. I could go on and on - but I know that we are blessed to serve the GBSD community and to have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students.
In these most difficult and unpredictable times, we can build our resilience by focusing on what we can be grateful for all year. We can be thankful for the relationships we have nurtured with colleagues, friends, and within our family. Acknowledging the greatness and comfort we find in knowing that there are others who support us - no matter the circumstances. We can be thankful for all the highs and lows, the lessons, the blessings, the setbacks - and the comebacks. If nothing else - 2020 has presented many opportunities for us to practice grace and flexibility.
As we gather around the table this Thanksgiving, I ask that you spend some time acknowledging the native and indigenous tribes that once identified this land as their home. I ask not because it is Native and Indigenous Heritage Month, but because it is the right thing to do. While Thanksgiving Day, for many of us, is a reminder to pause and give thanks for all that we have, it is also, for many Indigenous people, a painful reminder of the brutal history that brought about this day.
To that end, we acknowledge the land upon which our community exists. Join with me in taking this opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land:
"The Portland Metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River creating communities and summer encampments to harvest and use the plentiful natural resources of the area" (Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable, 2018).
If you are interested in reading more, below are a few articles that offer different perspectives. Of course they are an optional resource.
In closing, please know that I appreciate all you are doing to meaningfully engage students and families. I know your focus is not only academics, but also on relationships, and social-emotional wellbeing, and that focus has a positive impact on our students every day. I also know this fall has been challenging, to say the least. I hope you are able to take a few days to rest, relax, and reset. Please take time to connect with those in your household, to virtually visit with those who are far away, and to breathe. Be well!
Thankful and Grateful,
Dr. A.K. Perera
Superintendent of Schools