As we head into the December Holiday Recess and the new year, it is an appropriate time to reflect upon all that we have learned and all that we have achieved in 2020. Certainly, this has been the most challenging year most of us have ever experienced, and it is important that we recognize and reflect on that reality. This reflection also allows us to appreciate how fortunate we are in so many ways. I consider myself to be extraordinarily fortunate to be a member of this Sunnyvale community that is so committed to the well-being of each and every one of us.
We should also maintain a focus on the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones at this time of year. In Sunnyvale School District, we have been leaders for many years for our recognition of the relationship between our students’ academic growth and achievement and their social-emotional growth and achievement. Educators are being lauded across the country for their resourcefulness, commitment, and energy in adapting instructional practice under the trying conditions of the pandemic to make sure students have the best possible educational experience this school year, and I am confident our teachers are among the best anywhere. But what really sets Sunnyvale School District apart is our attention to the social-emotional needs of our students under these extraordinary conditions.
Our teachers have taught me how important it is to take more time to check in with students and to listen carefully to what they are saying and what they are not saying so we can help them continue their trajectory of social-emotional growth. Our teachers are also teaching children to take extra care to observe and share their own feelings. Families can employ these important strategies as well.
When children realize their feelings are valid and manageable, and perhaps even shared by others, it helps them build the skills and connections that are so important to their development and can help sustain well-being during these trying months. During non-school time, regular phone calls with friends and virtual game activities or play dates can be helpful as well.
Our website offers some ways to foster connectivity between children during this time of distancing. Thank you for your hard work to support our children. I wish you good health and prosperity in the year ahead and look forward to sharing better days together in 2021.
Michael Gallagher, Ed.D.