The end of the school year is always a time for celebration. It’s a time to acknowledge the growth of students, academically and emotionally, mark transitions, and greet the coming of summer. This year, those celebrations looked and felt very different. With the outbreak of COVID-19, our students left school a few days shy of Spring Break and never returned to their buildings. They learned from – and connected with – their teachers and their friends – via screens. They said goodbye virtually, or from the edge of their driveways, waving as a parade of teachers drove past.
The global health crisis wasn’t the only challenge faced by our district this year. A much-needed referendum failed in the fall, resulting in millions of dollars of budget cuts and the loss of many outstanding educators and staff. As a Board, we feel the responsibility and grieve the impact of these departures with our community. Superintendent Clint Christopher announced he was leaving, returning to Iowa to be closer to his family. Individually these were all significant hurdles. Combined, they could well have been overwhelming.
It’s a testament to the students, staff, families and this community that they didn’t. The attention of our staff every day was focused on serving our students. This is the heart of who we are and what we do as a school district. No matter what was going on outside the classroom, our teachers and staff continued to deliver the excellent education our students deserve and our community expects.
In March, with little warning, this same team pivoted to a distance learning model in a matter of days. Was it perfect with such short notice? No. But as the weeks progressed they adapted, finding ways to connect with students to make sure they had the support they needed not just for academic growth, but also that much-needed human connection.
Last month, the School Board completed its search for the next superintendent of Eastern Carver County Schools. We couldn’t be more excited or proud to name Lisa Sayles-Adams as our unanimous choice, selected after a rigorous interview process from a strong slate of candidates. Lisa’s background, her commitment to academic excellence, and her vision for a community growing stronger together made her the obvious choice. We can’t wait for you to meet her in the days and weeks ahead.
Of course, the big question on everyone’s mind is what school will look like in the fall. District teams are hard at work planning for multiple scenarios pending the Governor’s recommendations, which he will announce in late July. Once those are announced we will communicate district plans so everyone is ready to go once school starts.
In times of adversity, true character is revealed. This community has rallied behind its schools, its teachers, its students. Whether it was finding new and creative ways to celebrate our amazing Class of 2020, supporting the district Angel Fund to continue to provide meals for children in need, or showing love to staff on social media, it’s clear you care. As we look to an uncertain fall, that community spirit and care will be needed more than ever. Together, we’ve got this.
Jeff Ross, Ph.D., Board Chair
on behalf of the ECCS Board