Friday Focus – 04-17-2020

Dear Team,

No player, competitor, or individual has ever won everything they have ever entered, but many have become champions. Champions are made as a result of successfully overcoming a defeat, setback, or personal triumph. They will not let defeat ever define them. In fact, it makes them better. Why? Because every Champion is resilient. Thank you for being a champion for our students. More importantly, thank you for your resiliency during these tough times.

Let’s allow the word resilient to be the word of the day and hang on to it until this global pandemic is defeated. Resilient comes to mind for me again and again as I watch our educators adjust to a brand new way of delivering instruction. As I see pictures on social media of students learning from home. As I watch our staff across the District support operations in these unprecedented times.

I wrote last week about getting “back to better” rather than “back to normal.” But to come back to anything we have to have resiliency. I know so many are affected in so many ways by this global pandemic, but one group that has been weighing particularly on my heart and mind is the Class of 2020. Heck, in their honor I even posted on Facebook one of my favorite senior pictures (Class of 1983!) taken with my high school sweetheart and wife of 34 years Amy. In the coming days, I’ll be delivering a personal message to our seniors. As I’m weighing my words, I can’t help but think how disorienting this must be for these 17- and 18-year-olds. Everyone left for Spring Break on March 13 expecting to return in a week. We all feel as though the rug was pulled out from under us. But for these students, these last weeks of school are full of cherished, time-honored traditions that they have been dreaming of for years. For them, the loss is one that can’t be regained.

As a District, we are going to do everything we can to celebrate and honor our graduates and will share more information about that as soon as possible. But we can’t make up for literal lost time.

But I’m an optimist at heart. And as I look for the silver lining to this situation, I think about another generation who had their young lives disrupted and missed many coming of age traditions because of events that started on the other side of the world. The Greatest Generation who fought and won World War II are known for their grit, their sense of duty, their resilience.

I hope the Class of 2020 will ultimately find joy and fulfillment and wear this experience as a badge of honor. That they not only survived but thrived in an entirely original and unfamiliar environment.

Author Brene Brown’s book “Rising Strong” explores how people’s reactions to adversity can define them, and how failure or crisis can also provide a launchpad to greatness.

Brown sums up her book this way:

The physics of vulnerability is simple: If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. “Rising Strong” is a book about what it takes to get back up and how owning our stories of struggle gives us the power to write a daring new ending. Struggle can be our greatest call to courage and the clearest path to a wholehearted life.

Our seniors didn’t fall; they didn’t fail. But they — and all of us — are certainly living stories of struggle. Let’s be resilient, and model that for our students. If we can do that, we will return to better.

Something tells me the Senior Class of 2020 will be one of the most productive in our great nation’s history. Their resiliency will serve them well and should never be questioned.

I’m a champion for our Rock ISD Family. We might not always agree, but I will always fight for you and our students. I am proud to serve as your Superintendent of Schools in good times and through a global pandemic. Together, we are better and more resilient!

Thanks for reading. I’ll write again soon.

Respectfully,

Steve Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools