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Superintendent's News

Posted: January 22, 2021

A Message of Unity

In his weekly message, Supt. Elder reflects on the unity theme of the presidential inauguration.

Togetherness at Los Padillas Elementary School (before the pandemic)

Togetherness at Los Padillas Elementary School (before the pandemic)

Today, I feel optimistic. Today, I feel encouraged. Today, I feel – to paraphrase the U.S. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman – like we have stepped out of the shade and into the light of a new day. 

Did you see Ms. Gorman recite her stirring poem, The Hill We Climb, at President Biden’s inauguration this week? If not, I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the memorable performance. If you are like me, you will find yourself thinking about our students – past, present, and future – as the 23-year-old African American daughter of a teacher shares her vision of “a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”

The virus hasn’t broken us, but it has forced us to reexamine how we do what we do, whether it’s teaching, counseling, nursing, cleaning, supervising, parenting, supporting, or whatever your role may be. This unprecedented experience has united the Albuquerque Public Schools community behind a more focused purpose to provide our youngest citizens a path to success and contentment.

That path may look different than it did nine months ago, but it is just as achievable, just as promising. Now more than ever, we owe it to our students – all of our students – to help and guide them along the way. 

I am excited about the shift I’m seeing in remote classrooms, where teachers and students alike are moving beyond adjusting to online learning to embracing its possibilities.

I am pleased with the work we are doing in our schools and offices to prepare for the safe return of our students for in-person learning.  

I am touched by the outreach of our community partners who remind us that we not alone. We are all in this together, and together we can do great things – from donating masks, books, and food to providing health and mental health services in coordination with the city, county, state, businesses and non-profits. We serve a complex, diverse population with a lot of needs, needs that are growing because of the pandemic. Still, so many of our employees, our neighbors, our friends are going the extra mile, working in challenging conditions to support our students and families.

Unity was the message of this week’s inauguration. It’s a good theme for this school year, too. As President Biden said in his speech, through some of our nation’s most difficult times, “enough of us have come together to carry all of us forward. And we can do that now. History, faith and reason show the way, the way of unity.”

A united school community, like a united nation, offers so many possibilities for our students. That was evident this week as we watched the first woman of color ascend to the office of vice president. In Kamala Harris, I see a future of young people stepping out of the shade and into the light. 

As Ms. Gorman concluded her poem, “For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”