I heard some wonderful things about us this week — and I want to make sure you hear them, too.
On Nov. 2, the Education Foundation for Bend-La Pine Schools hosted its annual Principal for the Day event. About 20 local business and community leaders shadowed principals in our schools for a few hours — visiting classrooms, serving on recess duty and experiencing a taste of what our staff do each day — from tying shoelaces to sitting in on student mediations.
I joined them for lunch, as they each reflected on their takeaways from the day.
Many of these folks expressed surprise by what they saw inside the school they visited. Some understood for the first time the poverty and needs that some of our students experience. It’s one thing to hear a number – 45 percent free and reduced lunch for our district — and another to see students in need and the educators serving them first hand.
We heard from a community member who was excited about how math was taught inside an elementary classroom (students who are not just problem solving, but understanding the WHY behind the answer.) Some expressed how much they loved seeing the variety of options available — from the rigorous CTE courses at Bend Senior High School to the open community feel of Westside Village.
There was one theme, however, that emerged time and again: Our staff make personal connections with students. Nearly every speaker noticed how principals and other staff members are driven by their hearts to care for our students.
“There’s a safety net surrounding our students.”
“Students are known by name.”
“Staff develop a caring, personal connection with students.”
“There’s an emphasis on relationships.”
Students believe “I have hope; I am not a number.”
This is the right path.
I want our schools to be places where students are engaged in rigorous academics and graduate ready for their futures. But that begins with students feeling safe, welcome and cared for in our schools.
Thank you principals, for the love and time you give to our schools. And thank you to all of our staff members for caring about our students — bus drivers, teachers, office managers, custodians, educational assistants, nutrition service workers and so many more.
It is my honor to work alongside you all.
Shay Mikalson, Superintendent