WORDS FROM THE SUP’D: Leave the mask behind, just be yourself

As is the case each year, Halloween hoopla took over our school buildings last week.
While my personal costume selection is limited to “Superintendent,” “Business Casual Superintendent,” “Wolves Fan,” and “Cyclist,” I enjoyed seeing the many clever and artfully-crafted costumes of our students and staff, who fully embodied their roles as superheroes, professional athletes, fairy tale princesses, and legends.
It made me wonder about the “masks” we wear everyday.
Often, we filter out the world and hide behind literal masks like dark sunglasses, low baseball caps, earbuds, and the white light of our cell phones.
We also protect ourselves with masks others cannot see.
We poke fun at ourselves to hide our insecurities and self-doubts. We criticize those whose faults remind us most of our own. We fly under the radar to avoid being scrutinized.
Being “seen” makes us vulnerable, and with vulnerability comes great risk!
There is so much to gain when we shed these masks and take the risk of being truly seen. In Clarkston, our educators are intentional about greeting students “human-to-human.”
We know learning is social, emotional, natural, and relational, so we build time into everyday to connect with our students, to listen to them, to support them, and most importantly, to know them.
When our students feel safe, seen, and understood, they are able to embody their roles as superheroes, professional athletes, fairy tale princesses, legends, and more. They are able to freely pursue their passions and conquer big goals.
In recent weeks, we have seen our varsity girls golf team, boys tennis team, boys and girls cross country teams, volleyball team, marching band, girls swim and dive team, boys soccer team, and football team advance in their respective state tournaments.
We also saw our Madrigals perform at a prestigious state conference.
Let us always encourage our kids to be themselves and support them in pursuing their dreams.
Let us help them remember every day, they can choose to remove their masks, select their facial expressions and body language, set their minds, establish their goals, and pursue their passions without fear.
November is the season of Thanksgiving.
As I ride my bike about town, I am thankful for each of the people who make our community great.
I am thankful for the businesses, health-care workers, therapists, churches, not-for profits, civic groups, safety officers, library, parks, safety paths, senior center staff, and government officials.
On Community Impact Day and every day, I am thankful for the thousands of volunteers who give and give. I am thankful for the parents, grandparents, and others who care for kids and help in our schools.
I am thankful for our educators—bus drivers, school board members, secretaries, custodians, food service workers, support staff members, coaches, and teachers. Mostly, I am thankful for each and every one of our children.
In this season, and every day, let us not take for granted our good fortune. Let us never take for granted our blessings.
Dr. Rod Rock is superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools

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