It has been nine months since I became superintendent of the Sunnyvale School District, and I am finally able to welcome our students back to school. Our gradual phased return to in-person instruction began March 18, and each group of eager, excited students that we welcome back is paving the way for our full reopening on August 18.
This unprecedented year has yielded some invaluable lessons for our team. In the wake of the first shelter-in-place order, we pivoted to reshape instruction, distributed materials and equipment to families, crafted online counseling sessions, and became well acquainted with teaching in a virtual world.
We partnered more readily with our families than ever before as they worked to support their children’s learning even as their own lives had been turned upside down. The experience showed us how much we can count on our district families, as well as community partners, corporate donors, and of course our own teachers and staff. Bonded by the common concern for our children, our community drew together to serve our kids without hesitation.
We also learned that the values we identified to drive our work early in the year would stand the test of time and trauma, as we navigated challenging circumstances. The core principles of safety, equity, quality teaching and learning, and flexibility continue to guide our work.
I am particularly proud that our community has committed itself to deepening its understanding of the concept of inclusion, to making certain that every child and community member is valued, welcomed, and seen as full participants in the Sunnyvale School District. This commitment begins with self-reflection and requires all of us to listen to understand the life experiences and perspectives of each other.
Please know that as we are safeguarding your children’s physical well-being in their return to campuses, we will also be focusing on their social-emotional wellness. We want children to be safe and to feel safe as well — safe enough to share their feelings, practice empathy, and help us to build a more cohesive, enjoyable learning community.
It is an honor to serve your children.