Message from the Superintendent
November 14, 2016
Dear Ojai Unified School District Students, Parents, Staff and Community Members,
In the past five days, I have heard from superintendent colleagues across the nation about challenges they have faced in their districts as staff members talked with children of all races, ethnicities, religions and gender identities following the November 8th election. This morning, I met with our school principals, assistant superintendent, and two school board members to discuss this issue. As educators, we have a responsibility to help our students and potentially their families understand and process some statements that were made during the campaign.
I cannot capture in words here how proud I am to summarize the clear theme that emerged from the conversation this morning. It was undeniable that our district’s emphasis on respectful relationships has created a culture which ensures a safe physical, emotional, and social environment, as free from bullying behaviors as possible. This has been accomplished by the hard work in our schools of our staff members, particularly over the past four years. Thus, when challenging times arise, we have the ability to call upon expectations in our schools that have already been built into our daily lives.
As we went around the table today, we did hear about a few inappropriate comments from students last Wednesday and Thursday. However, in each case, the adult who intervened used the event as an opportunity to educate the speaker and the student receiving the comment. The principal was there for additional support.
As we adults know from our own educational experiences, the best schools are those which offer far more than fine academics and extracurricular activities. Great schools are those where students observe and practice the principles inherent in what it means to be good citizens among children from other backgrounds. In the past seven years as your superintendent, I have learned that the overwhelming majority of citizens in the Ojai Valley embody those ideals. In these difficult days for some of our district’s families, it is especially important that we remember who we are and what we have practiced and demanded of ourselves in our schools.
August 22, 2016