This morning, the Westlake High School Class of 2031 walked into their kindergarten classrooms.
An hour or so later, our high school seniors, the Class of 2019, became the "big people" on campus for their last year in Eanes ISD. Those two classes and all classes in-between were greeted by the greatest educators I have ever known. Speaking on behalf of our entire staff, we want to thank you for entrusting your cherished children into our growing environment.
This year in my Convocation address to our staff, I stressed the importance of creating a safe oasis for all children to learn with us. We looked back 50 years ago to the turbulent year of 1968. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy as well as riots in my hometown of Chicago during the Democratic National Convention, all occurred during a time when our nation was fighting a war in Vietnam. It was a tumultuous time and an era where children watching the violence and anger could easily become unsettled. 1968 was also the first year of the Special Olympics (in Chicago) and the year Mister Rogers premiered his famous television program.
In my presentation to staff, we stressed the need to keep our focus on our educational objectives of communication (respect, civility and tolerance), SEL – Social Emotional Learning (respect for all, empathy and resilience), and Innovation (always striving for best practice). While we have always had special education as a priority in Eanes ISD, this year, the Board of Trustees chose special education as an additional area of focus (recognizing we all have needs and we are all more alike than different).
Many thoughts were shared with our staff during our official opening, too many to share here. But I will share three, from three different individuals from 1968. The first from Martin Luther King Jr., the second from Caesar Chavez and the last from Fred Rogers.
When one looks at all three in succession, the message is clear .... respect all, care for one another and do it simply by just being kind.
Our staff is committed to creating and maintaining an environment where all students can thrive and reach their potential. Respect for all, caring for each other, communicating in a civil manner, listening and reflecting (which may actually mean we have to be more thoughtful when using our devices and in how we interact with social media) while always, always being kind.
As our children entered our buildings, the energy I experienced this morning was truly inspiring. Thank you for the opportunity to work with and learn from the amazing youth in the Eanes community.
If you'd like to see my Convocation speech to staff, click on the image below:
Let's have a great school year.
Dr. Tom Leonard