From Beginning to End and The Beginning Again!

Finally, it looks like spring is here to stay. May 1st marks 24 days remaining in the 20-21 school year. We, as students, staff, parents, and community, have much to celebrate. It has been a team effort. I believe none of us could have found success in this year without the support of each other.
In my morning scan of several online blogs, several articles reminded me of how very lucky we are to live in Iowa and more specifically in West Burlington. They drew focus to my thoughts as we prepare to close out this year.
The first blog article I read was about a species of monkey that occupies the Cayo Santiago Island near Puerto Rico. Monkeys, Caribbean island, West Burlington, what bird walk are you on this month? These monkeys are very aggressive and highly competitive, especially in the protection of resources like food and water. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, researchers, who thought they would become more aggressive due to the disruption, found them to react in the opposite. Instead of keeping with their typical aggressive, competitive relationships, they became more tolerant of each other and increased the number of “friends” they developed and maintained.
I believe the same has held true for our community. We have drawn together to support each other and to be more tolerant of each other. I also believe this will continue into the future. We have good people across the board who want what is best for our students, and we find ways to make it work. This has been a great district to serve throughout the pandemic. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.
The second article that struck me was from Edutopia. It spoke to the resilience of children and youth to overcome adversity if they are supported to develop confidence, rather than increasingly tested and sorted to mitigate the learning gaps brought on by the pandemic and societal inequities. The article opened with the announcement of celebration that California would be significantly reopened by June 15th. The article continued with the concepts that students had been out of brick-and-mortar school for well over a year.
This also then pulled me back to a statistic I read several weeks ago that stated 25% of this year’s eight grade students had attended school this year. 75% of the students who will now begin the critical credit acquisition for the diploma phase of their educational experience have not been in school for over a year. As a former high school teacher and administrator my heart drops and body cringes. How do we help them do it? How do we help them find the resiliency and hope to move forward? 
No school system or school year is ever perfect, yet all in all I believe we have had a really good year. While we have had hiccups along the way our students have had the opportunity to participate in and be supported through face-to-face instruction each day with the exception of four weeks of hybrid and 2 weeks of totally online at the secondary. I also believe that regardless of the format of instruction, our staff committed to providing the best instruction possible in light of the situation. Our world is very much different than many more urban states and even urban communities in Iowa. We have been greatly benefited by our location, by the opportunities of our greater community for access to health and community services, by our local community for their support, by our staff and administrators for their unyielding commitment to all students, and finally by our students who have worked so hard throughout this crazy disruptive time. These blessings bring me much joy. As we close this year, I am truly so thankful for each and every person who has been a part of the West Burlington Falcons Community. Thank you!
Congratulations to our upcoming graduates and their parents. They will take their final walk as West Burlington students on the afternoon of May 23rd. May you always find joy in the world around you, passion in your work, and love in those that surround you. To your parents; may you remember a huge “Thank You” for the love and support they have shown you throughout these many years.
This is the last newsletter of the 2020-2021 school year. We will be communicating about registration and the start of the 2021-2022 school year including the transition from JMC, our current student information system, to Infinite Campus, our new one. Please look for that communication in July.
Again, thank you to everyone for their work and support throughout this year and as summer approaches, stay well, stay safe and enjoy the seasons activities and celebrations.