Special to The Messenger
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend from Grapeland ISD. I am in my 4th year as Superintendent of Grapeland ISD and I am thankful to be a Sandie.
Yes, regardless of COVID we have much to be thankful for. We are happy to say that all students and staff members who have had COVID have recovered and returned to school. We are thankful for that. We are presently in school and are dealing with the distractor factors of teaching in a pandemic. Our staff, students and administrators are examples of those thick beige rubber bands that we wore on our wrists as kids. They all have been very flexible and are stretching their coping skills in ways that we have never dreamed of. So, be that it may, the education of our students continues.
However, we are hoping that our Commissioner of Education realizes the difficulty of our Accountability system in a normal school year, much more the complications that we are facing in addressing learning gaps that our students have from the 19-20 school year. With that being said, we are not making excuses. We are monitoring and measuring our student’s performance and playing the cards we are dealt.
Remote learning was a learning experience for us and while we know that in person learning is the most effective way to instruct a child, we are getting closer and closer to being a 1 to 1 school. With our latest shipment of technology we are now able to have a device for 68% of our students. This will be instrumental in helping us to manage instruction if we are forced to close our doors again. Furthermore, let me say this – We have no intention of closing our doors, but we will always keep the best interest of our students in mind in every situation and circumstance.
I am also thankful that we were able to play a full season in Football and Volleyball with no interruptions. Our students are in a position where they cannot turn back the hands of time and get opportunities to make up what they miss. It is an arduous task to figure out what is essential and nonessential because to students all things are essential. However, we go forward each day trying to use our experience to make those difficult calls. I must say that I am thankful for our administrative team and the communication and collaboration that we have had since March in dealing with circumstances and situations out of our control.
I am also thankful for our Board and the leadership of Board President James Martin. He is reasonable, intellectual and factual. He speaks carefully and leads courteously with admirable devotion to our schools and our community. It is a definite honor to follow his lead along with the other members of the board.
We continue to look forward with a definite eye on the progress of our families and facilities. We are in the process of planning a major renovation to Lorena Schoultz Auditorium which will be financed by district funds and hopefully any community assistance that we can collaborate on. I would be remiss not to announce the thankfulness of our staff for our Board for allocating funding for a Holiday Incentive of 600.00 for all staff with Bachelor’s Degrees and 300.00 for all other staff members. Hey, just in time for Black Friday!
I am so very thankful that our district remains financially sound with a fund balance that will support us in dire situations and I am happy to report that Mrs. Julie Martin, our business manager is doing an outstanding job. The District received a perfect score of 100 on our FIRST rating (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas).
Finally, I am most thankful for our students. This year more than ever, I get the chance to work in close proximity with our students while helping administrate on both campuses. It is sheer joy to be in the trenches and see things from a whole new perspective. Daily, I get to see the strengths, weaknesses and needs of our District through our administrator’s and teacher’s eyes.
Well, I am happy to report that our students are meeting the challenges of going to school in a pandemic. They certainly don’t appreciate the mask, but an overwhelming majority are compliant even though they may need occasional reminders. I am thrilled that even in a nation of division our students remain united and accept each other’s differences while having their own beliefs. We strive to allow our students to be individuals but we also have the expectations that we are one school under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
Yes, we are very thankful that things are as well as they are, but we are also determined to get to the other side of our obstacles and help our students take advantage of every one of their opportunities. 2020 has been tough, but I have always been taught, when the going gets tough… The tough get going. Sandie Pride Never Dies!