As the flowers of May abound, so too goes our school celebrations.  National Teacher Appreciation Week is this week and recognition of school boards is celebrated throughout the month of May. While as a district we formally celebrate everyone at the end of the school year, other staff such as para-educators, bus drivers, food service and others are nationally celebrated throughout other times of the year.  Regardless of the role staff play through their work, I thank each of you for their service and commitment to the education of the students of West Burlington Independent Schools.

As a district we will honor the work of our staff at a recognition celebration next week on Friday afternoon.  It is an opportunity to reflect on the work of each of us in the lives of our students. This event highlights staff with designated years of service and honors those individuals who are retiring from the district. The rippling effect of the work of our staff, whether they be teacher, paraeducator, coach, food service, custodian, bus driver, principal or school board member is endless.  This is a small token of thanking them for their service to our future.

For students and their families we know too it is a time of celebration.  For some it is only for the conclusion of another year and the joyful anticipation of the freedoms of summer. For others it is about an ending and a beginning. As with all things one door must close for another to fully open. 

Our preschool students will mark the transition from their early years to the more formal structure and expectations of elementary school.  Our 5th grade students will transition to the secondary building and our 8th grade students will move to the high school where while credits become critically important, the opportunities both in the classroom and beyond become much greater. 

And finally, Our seniors will pass through our halls for their last times to celebrate the completion of their secondary education as well as their transition to postsecondary school, the military or the workforce. I especially congratulate them as well as their parents on this accomplishment.

In times of transition like these, I am continually drawn to two different texts that have impacted me. They are not deep in reading, but to me deep in meaning. One is  “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch and the other is “I Hope You Dance”, a song made popular by Lee Ann Womack a number of years back. 

The former was one of our family’s favorites from the time our children were young.  Today, I treasure each time that I find it in the book collections our children share with their children. The message of unconditional and forever love between a parent and child is timeless. To our seniors as well as all of us, students, staff and families…remember I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always as long as I’m living my ________ you’ll be.  Sometimes our big, tough human egos on both sides get in the way…..know wherever you go, whatever you do..remember home and family loves you in both your good times and your bad….lean on each other.

The latter, “I Hope You Dance”, has become a personal cornerstone especially when times of uncertainty and change make each day and sometimes each moment heavy. I first heard this song as I returned with my family from Michigan some twenty years ago following the first of two funeral services for my younger sister.  It helped me make sense of the deep sense of loss and devastation within me.  Over the years I have continued to find it comforting when working through challenges in my life. Bottom will get crazy and hard and scary…that’s the given. How you react is the question. The crazy, the hard and the scary will come to pass and the sun will come out again.   To keep on dancing is the challenge.  To all, especially to our seniors and to those who won’t be with us next year “I Hope You Dance”. 

Enjoy the rest of the 2021-2022 school year and we’ll see those returning in August.  Have a great summer.