Dear SSD Family,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to our district for the 2020-21 academic year. While I wish we could welcome students back to our physical campuses today, I am excited about the opportunities our virtual schoolhouses have to offer. Whether you have chosen virtual learning or independent study, we are delighted to have you with us this year.
Our District’s theme this year is Learning together. Arriving as one. I am confident that as individuals and as a community we will embrace the challenges we are collectively facing to learn together. I am equally confident we will emerge from this period as an even more unified and stronger Sunnyvale School District community to arrive as one.
Schools, at their best, are centers of our community and provide safety and security to our children while our children provide us with a sense of optimism, progress, and hope. The challenges of a global pandemic and the accompanying economic hardship as well as a summer of deep reflection and emotion as our nation has renewed its commitment to liberty and justice for all remind us of our shared values. Even in these challenging times, there should be no greater center of community, and of optimism, progress, and hope than our local public schools. Please join me in a commitment to maintaining and strengthening community while we prepare to meet again in person.
The unprecedented events of last spring — with our campuses closing suddenly on the afternoon of March 13 —required that we quickly craft a virtual learning program. I am proud of the flexibility and creativity our team demonstrated. Our summer school program allowed us to test and to refine our distance teaching and learning strategies, and hundreds of our teachers and para-educators have been immersing themselves in professional development the past two weeks.
Our community has remained committed and engaged throughout the summer, offering perspectives and feedback that reminded us of the deep value we hold for high-quality public education serving our vibrant, diverse Sunnyvale community. We have learned together, and our progress is impressive. We are now able to launch this school year with a new and vastly improved version of the learning program we employed last spring.
This year, teachers have identified more ways they can engage students in a virtual environment. For instance, your child will have more opportunities to work in small groups, which will help him or her build critical thinking and collaboration skills as well as the social and emotional skills that are critically important to success in school and in life. We will continue to learn and to identify the most effective practices to help your child learn and to thrive in this still very new environment.
Peer interaction, combined with classroom routines and a published schedule of assignments will help your child feel comfortable knowing what he or she can expect and what is expected. Perhaps most important, these activities help students feel they are part of a community — something we believe to be vital to their well-being during these uncertain times.
I would also like to recognize that educating children from home is a responsibility that most families never anticipated. Our team is ready to provide whatever support we can. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher if you have questions or concerns. I also encourage you to visit our website (at https://www.sesd.org/domain/1108) to learn about other helpful resources.
Thank you again for being a part of our learning community. Best wishes for a wonderful school year.
Michael Gallagher, Ed.D.