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February: A Time for Positive Appreciation


My educational career began in January of 1982.   I am now beginning my 29th year of working in Oregon schools and over that time, I have noticed that February can be a particularly challenging month for educators.  I’m not sure why this is.  Perhaps it is because of the cold weather, the long period of gray skies, or possibly the extended time between major time-off periods (winter and spring breaks).  The “newness” of the school year has long-since worn away and we are deep into the school year facing budget discussions, fewer resources and an uncertain economic climate. 

So what remedy is there for the February Blues?  My suggestion is that we take a moment to reflect on the amazing work going on all around us and make extra efforts to appreciate others, especially at this time of year. 

Over the last two weeks I had the opportunity to witness some remarkable teaching.  I visited five of our ESD STEPS classrooms where I witnessed patient, skilled, compassionate teachers and educational assistants working with students who have a variety of severe disabilities.  As I watched this work, I realized what a gift these students receive in the way of high quality educational experiences.   I thought of what it would be like for these children to face a future without this kind of preparation – realizing that in past times and in other places in the world no such preparation is available.  I also observed some of our vision specialists working with students who are blind – assisting them in getting around the community safely, reading text in Braille, writing in Braille and doing math on an abacus.  Again I thought of the remarkable opportunity these young people have – this very rich preparation for future success in life.  I visited the Eagle Point Vocational Center and observed how students are being taught meaningful work skills and necessary life skills such as cooking, budgeting, time management and how to live independently.  I also visited classrooms where highly skilled, very patient, and amazingly compassionate staff work with very young children with a variety of severe disabilities.  With each observation I was impressed with the remarkable quality of our staff and the really excellent work being done to help children prepare for a successful future. 

I have observed the same level of commitment and quality service from our school improvement team in assisting school districts to prepare effective e-CIP plans, develop strong attendance programs, maintain quality mentoring programs and stay current in such areas as literacy and math best practices and Positive Behavior Support.  I also reflect on the exemplary work being done by our Technology Department ranging from assisting districts with major computer infrastructure overhauls to the installation of essential equipment, to maintaining an amazingly efficient and valued media-materials library.

I guess my point is this – there is so much to celebrate.  There are so many things going right, not just at Southern Oregon ESD but throughout the schools in our region.  I think February is an excellent time to take a moment and reflect on the efforts being made for these wonderful children – and take a moment to share your appreciation with others.  If you see a kind act, an example of teaching excellence, an extra effort made to make things better for kids… I urge you to express your appreciation.  I encourage all of us to be extra kind, extra tender, extra appreciative during this time of year.  Let’s make February a month that confirms the realization that we are working shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the finest professionals, doing some of the world’s most important work.  TGIF!  Thank Goodness It’s February!

Thank you for all that you do!

Scott






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