Even though I am anticipating the upcoming election with a mixture of anxiety and hope, I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to cast my vote. The policymakers we choose this month will influence the health, freedoms, and future of the children we serve.
I will always advocate for our children, yet I know that the greatest gift we can offer them is the ability to advocate for themselves — to shape their own futures in a world of their own design. If our students step into tomorrow with a sense of their personal values, respect for themselves and others, an understanding of the democratic process, and the urge to take action to create a more just world — whether through raising their voices in civil discourse or resolutely casting their ballots — I will know we have done our job as parents and educators.
Our students are already becoming sophisticated world citizens — the kind of people we need to play an active role in influencing policy. They are gaining an understanding of the myriad cultures and differences represented within a community. They are learning the language of respect and civility that fosters productive conversation. They are practiced in thinking independently and solving problems creatively. Our students confer with each other, conduct research, and once they’ve drawn their own conclusions, they use technology to polish and amplify their voices as they share their views and findings. In many ways, we learn as much from our students as they do from us.
While it is easy to have pre-election anxiety during this divisive time, I need only glimpse at our students at work to regain my optimism. They will take the reins in the not-so-distant future, and I believe we will be in very good hands. They renew my hope every day.
Have a wonderful summer. Perhaps I’ll see you at the polls!
Benjamin H. Picard, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools