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Posted September 2, 2016

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So much more

Read Supt. Reedy's tribute to APS employees who strive to make student lives better.

In a perfect world, schools would focus solely on teaching and learning. They are, by definition, “organizations that provide instruction; institutions for the teaching of children.”

Oh yes, they are. But they are so much more.

For too many of our students, school not only is a place to learn about the world around them, but a safe haven to escape the world in which they live.

That was the case for Victoria Martens, the fourth grader at Petroglyph Elementary who was brutally murdered last week. Those who knew Victoria described her as a bright student who loved learning and was happy at school. We now know that it was probably the safest place for her to be.  

As we grieve Victoria’s death, as well as the death of Nhi Nguyen, a fifth grader at S.R. Marmon who was killed by her stepfather, we can’t help but think about all of the other children in our schools who live in unsafe homes, who are abused, neglected, unloved, unwanted.

I know you want to help. That’s what we in public education do. We strive to make student lives better, to create brighter futures, to pave pathways to success and happiness.

I appreciate how much you give to our students, how you tend to needs that are both academic and social.

When students struggle with literacy or problem solving, you supplement their instruction.

When they are excited about a subject, you point them to additional resources and opportunities.

When they are hungry, you help them get free breakfast and lunch.

When they show up in tattered shoes or without a jacket, you refer them to the clothing bank.

When they are scared, you counsel them.

When you think they are being mistreated, you report your suspicion and seek help for them.

You can’t be in this profession without caring about the wellbeing of the children we serve. And while it often is satisfying, rewarding work, it also can be tedious, frustrating and, at times, downright excruciating, as it was this past week for many of those who work at Petroglyph and S.R. Marmon.  

But even in the most challenging of times, please know that what you do matters. You are appreciated. You do make a difference.

As we head into this long weekend, I hope you get some well-deserved rest, so you can come back ready to continue the hard but good work we do.

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