Another Milestone – Moments that Matter

How can it be? Today is the last day of school. Already. Again.

The start of summer vacation is an exciting annual milestone for kids, parents, and educators. No matter who we are, or what we do, it marks the completion of another cycle, and typically calls up astonishment at how fast it went by. The school year often seems a blur when we first look back on the events and experiences that have flown by. Yet, when we sit for a moment, when we pause and reflect, blurred moments become clearer, more memorable and more meaningful. I always take the time at the end of every year, to experience this kind of reflection, to think about the moments that matter… and I highly recommend it.

For parents and educators, the moments that matter are often connected to a  seeing child’s intellectual, emotional, and physical growth. Perhaps it comes in a moment excited achievement and new learning, or in a time of crisis and resolution, or with the opportunity to help someone work through a problem and see maturation or strengthened emotional resiliency. Maybe it comes when witnessing an “a-ha” moment of clarity and understanding come to an individual child or a whole class. Perhaps it appears along with a competitive victory and a celebration, or a disappointment and a lesson about maintaining a mindset of persistence, hard work, and improvement.

For children, the moments that matter are often about the new connections they make. New friends, new experiences, new ideas and emotions, deeper understandings, new questions and answers about the world in which they live, and how they fit in as part of it. These are are the moments that prepare for them for what’s next. They become the anecdotes for uncertainty, the filter through which they see the past, and the experiences that build confidence and courage for the future. They are all about learning.

My own reflections are focused on the abundant opportunities for learning this year, and the moments that matter for me are about gratitude and appreciation. From my perspective as Superintendent I get to see the amazing breadth of caring, effort, and hard work that surrounds us in GUSD and the broader community. I see children setting goals and embracing the power of education to guide their own limitless capacity for growth. I see teachers collaborating to create meaning for their students, individually and as a class. I see principals and district leaders who are passionate about building the best environment for learning and serving the unique needs of each student. I see parents, school board members,  and community partners who work together to expand, and efficiently guide and use resources for our schools and our children. Most importantly, I see a system that is succeeding in becoming stronger and providing more powerful instruction, purposeful individualization, and productive partnerships – all leading to solid evidence of student success.

The GUSD Mission Statement aspires to have each student “prosper in, and positively influence, a diverse and dynamic world.” Thanks to all you for the part you play in bringing this ambitious vision of excellence and achievement closer to reality with every passing day. In my experience, there is as much joy in the journey as there will be at the destination. It’s an exciting path we are traveling, and no doubt that we’re heading in the right direction.

I’m honored to be part of this remarkable community. I’m grateful for each of you who make things happen for the kids of GUSD and I’ll be watching as our sixth graders move on to junior high school and continue the journey they started in GUSD.  Thank you all for sharing in our high expectations and ambitious aspirations.

Now go and enjoy the summer break! The new year, and its own moments that matter, will be here before you know it.

Bill Banning