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Superintendent's News

Posted: April 9, 2021

A Good Day

Supt. Elder reflects on the first day back on campus for tens of thousands of APS students.

There were long drop-off lines, wonky internet connections, a few late buses, and some warm classrooms in the record-breaking early April heat. But to me, the first day back on campus for tens of thousands of Albuquerque Public Schools students was glorious.

Kids in classrooms. Laughter in hallways. Face-to-face teaching and learning. Just the way public education is supposed to be.

It was a little disconcerting to see even our smallest students in masks (although I have to say, there are some fun masks out there). It was a little weird to see so many students washing their hands and carrying reusable water bottles. And it was hard to resist fist bumps, backslaps, and side hugs.

Things aren’t entirely back to normal. Maybe school never again will look like it did before COVID-19 invaded our community, forcing us to find new ways to provide instruction and support for students. But what I saw on Monday and throughout this week was good nonetheless.

Really good.

I’ll admit, I got emotional when I saw backpack lugging students get off the bus at Cleveland Middle School, where I spent Monday morning. They may have been masked, but I didn’t have to see their smiles to know those kids were happy to be there.

The glee among the school staff was palpable.

Those people, you people, are my heroes. All of you who made this day and every day of the school year possible. It’s hard to wrap my brain around all we have been through this past year. When I think back to the early days of scrambling to get devices to kids as we figured out how to teach them, guide them, feed them, and support them from a distance, all while working on a plan to get them back in schools. It has been quite the haul, and I will forever be grateful for all who made it happen (see the long but not nearly complete list of acknowledgments that I sent to employees, families and the community on the morning of our first day back).

This has been an exercise in flexibility. Even as we opened our doors on Monday, we were making adjustments, shifting course as we figured out the best way to accommodate not only the socially distanced students in our buildings but those who continue to learn from home. For example, when the WiFi went out at many of our schools on Monday, teaching didn’t stop. Students and staff merely pivoted, as they have all year.

Teaching never stopped. Learning never stopped. Supporting students never stopped. Teachers and staff, students and families have stepped up time and time again to make this work. And that’s how we’ll continue as we wrap up this most unusual school year and prepare for the next.

Before I sign off, I want to thank all of you who shared pictures and positive messages as part of the #APSisBACK social media campaign. We created a video slideshow featuring some of the many pictures that were shared by schools across the district to help commemorate this historic week. It just might bring happy tears to your eyes.