This spring, we closed out a school year that seemed certain to stand as the most unusual and challenging academic year any of us would experience in our lifetime.
From my conversations with many of you, I know that in May 2021 you were exhausted. But you were also motivated and energized for the work that lay ahead. You knew it would be a critical school year for your students and you spent the summer planning and preparing.
When I talked to you this summer, I saw a fire in your eyes. It was a fire of motivation and purpose. It was also a fire of confidence. After a year of navigating the unpredictability and constraints of a global pandemic—a year in which you proved to yourself and all of us how capable, creative and resilient you are—you were ready to show what you could do with the worst of COVID-19 behind us.
And then, a few weeks before schools opened, it became clear that our hopes for the new school year—at least the ones linked to having COVID-19 behind us—were not going to be realized. It can feel like déjà vu, rivaling and reliving the challenges we faced in 2020.
In the face of this reality, I can imagine you’ve experienced a mixture of frustration, disappointment, discouragement and anxiety.
And yet, I know that you are being carried forward into this school year by the purpose that called you to this profession at the beginning of your career—a love for your students and a recognition that, as an educator, you can play a defining role in their lives. Your belief in them, your instructional skill and creativity, your commitment to honing your craft, your leadership, are instrumental to unlocking their passions, unleashing their potential and equipping each of them with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate and shape our world.
Despite the volatility and uncertainty that we face, that purpose remains constant. Staying anchored to it will propel and guide us through the year ahead.
My hope for you is that you will be reminded of this purpose in each interaction you have with your students as you welcome them back to your classroom, school, or district. I know there is much work to do. But I hope that you will notice your students’ joy to begin a new school year, that your spirits will be lifted by their laughter, that you will be inspired by their curiosity and creativity.
Every day, as I walk into work at The Holdsworth Center’s Campus on Lake Austin, I see these words, mounted in metal against a bright limestone wall: Public education holds worth.
They are resonating deeply with me right now. You have been entrusted with society’s most precious gift—our children, our future. My final hope is that you know how much admiration and gratitude we have for you.
With great respect,
P.S. To celebrate and encourage educators across the state and country, download the “Public education holds worth” badge here to post on your social channels and websites.