Getting Reacquainted

Hello D205 community and beyond.

It has been a while since I checked in.  These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for everybody, but I thought it was past time I reached out, and I have something important to say--THANK YOU!

COVID-19 has rocked everybody's world.  It has affected everybody differently.  So, the best way for me to make sense of all of it is to recognize the good that has come out of this extremely difficult situation.

I have been a member of teams my entire life.  With no disrespect to my 1989 WIAA State Summer Championship team at North High School in my hometown of Sheboygan, WI, or our Sheboygan A's Wisconsin State League championship teams of 1991 and 1997, this experience has been the most gratifying team experience that I have ever been associated with.  So, my first thank you goes out to my D205 administrators, instructional coaches, tech staff, the Elmhurst Teachers Council, and the Board of Education for its support in getting E-Learning off the ground for 8,500 students and 700 teachers in 48 hours.  It was a truly amazing effort that I cannot even begin to describe.  To you--THANK YOU!

Next up, THANK YOU to our health care heroes and first responders who are putting their lives on the line every day to get us through this.  D205 has been in touch with Edward-Elmhurst Hospital officials and other intergovernmental and community organizations and stands ready to assist in any way necessary to support our health care workers.  This week, York High School has donated goggles and other supplies to the hospital, and we will continue to help in any way we can.

To another group, always at the ready to support the District and the community, the D205 Foundation--THANK YOU!  Though D205 is being reimbursed from the Federal Government for meals, logistical issues presented some complications for our Food Service staff during spring break, and I was concerned that we may have families that would struggle for the daily sustenance needs of food and supplies. 

A manager from Chick-fil-A contacted me and asked if they could help.  Several school PTA's wanted to do something.  Another well-placed community member and several others reached out to me wanting to help.  I contacted some local pastors, and, then, all of a sudden, boom!  The Foundation stepped in to organize the willing and established the Community Response Fund.  As of yesterday, numerous volunteers supplied 2,150 meals this week, raised more than $40,000 to feed families and provide for basic needs.  One creative idea funneled $10,000 of this support toward gift cards for local businesses to help both supply food and support our local restaurants, who supported us during last year's referendum campaign.  In my video message today, I encourage those with the means to consider carry-out or delivery from these people who are struggling for their livelihood and/or to pay their employees.

In addition to some of the community partners that I have referenced, my network of learning partners both locally and nationally have provided suggestions and resources, reached out for general support, and supported each other during these unprecedented times.  Thanks for helping me, personally, and reinforcing the concept of community and our collective, passionate commitment to children.

My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.  His later works often lamented the loss of community in contemporary society.  During this calamity, we have all had to re-calibrate.  We have had a resurgence in community awareness and togetherness.

Along those lines, it is critical for the well-being of our community that we all adhere to the social distancing guidelines set forth by our SCIENTISTS and HEALTH EXPERTS.  In our community, some have chosen to congregate in groups, and our city, schools and parks have banded together to actively and unconditionally do everything possible to discourage this behavior and enforce Governor Pritzker's order.  Every life lost is somebody's father, sister, or best friend.  We must put community above self in times like this.

But, more importantly, will this rediscovered sense of community become embedded in our collective psyche, and what are the lessons learned when we move on from this?  And, we will move on from this.  We will be resilient, and we will get through.  But, Americans can have a short memory.  A year from now, when there is a vaccine, and we, hopefully, have successfully mitigated the loss of life, will we have changed at all?  We will eat meals with our families more regularly?  Will we play games together more often?  Will we let travel ball rule our lives?  Will taking five AP courses be the only measure of self-worth for a 17-year old?  Will we take care of those less fortunate?  Will elected officials continue to publicly and indiscriminately denigrate large groups of people?  Will we value the public good?  Will we respect and value our elderly population?  Will we remember people who fought in WWII?  Will a few more people read books?  Will we love each other and take care of each other in healthy ways?  Will I have more patience?  Will I love my family and friends as I am called to?  WE all have an INDIVIDUAL responsibility in ensuring that the lessons of the last couple of weeks make us all better together--or, not . . .

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