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News and Notes

News and Notes: 4.12

“Children are the postcards we send to a future we will not see.”  (Unknown author)  While reviewing literacy and curriculum policies this week, I found myself thinking about this quotation and the responsibility we have as adults overseeing the education of children.  When I say adults I don’t just mean teachers.  I mean all of us who guide a child’s education – parents, citizens, business owners… all of us.  Granted, schools are at the center of this responsibility.  As such, WLPS is committed to the task of partnering with our community to educate our children for a better future.  We have put resources into art, language, math, technology, and are prepping for a full court press on literacy in the second half of the year.

But, I know, as do all of you, that school is not just a set of learning objectives and teaching strategies.  It is about relationships, too.  Our commitment includes working with students on building better relationships.  Recess is where our youngest students learn many of the lessons on how to build good relationships.   Recess?  Yes, recess!  The students need it.  They need to play.  And, they need a high-quality facility upon which to do so.

The next rounds of facility improvements are aimed at WLES.  On Monday, January 22, I updated the Board of Education on the scope of these projects.  Foremost on everybody’s mind is the playground area.  This area of the school property is used heavily on a daily basis.  It is showing the signs of decades of daily use.  It needs attention, and sinking funds can help.  As such, I began working with construction and design engineers to improve the area.

Recently, the WLES formed a committee to look at how to use the area as an actual learning tool.  I was impressed!  This group has collected lots of information and is really thinking about ways to take care of the whole child when they enroll in our schools.  One issue which has caused me to draw pause on this site improvement – I, personally, don’t play on playground equipment very often.  So, I am interested in hearing from the experts.  Who are these experts?  Our students at WLES!  Second-grade students are conducting surveys of K-6th graders and are preparing to help me overcome my ignorance in this all-important area. I’ll report on their findings in future News and Notes.

What a great way to invest time and resources.  Our community is making the future better for children.  It is a future many of us won’t see, but knowing that we are sending living messages, living postcards, to do the work we value makes today a great day to be a Trojan.

Mr. Peace at WLES

Safety is one of our main concerns here at WLPS. We want our students to feel safe, cared for and confident, especially when they are in our care. It is fundamental to their ability to not only learn math, reading, etc but to learn how to grow into engaged, empathic and caring citizens.

We are committed to proactively preserving an inclusive and positive culture in our buildings. And a fight against bullying is at the forefront of that commitment. Enter Mr. Peace.

On Thursday Mr. Peace held two assemblies, one for kindergarten-3rd-grade and one for 4th-6th grade, addressing the topic of bullying. Through a simple yet engaging presentation, he explained what bullying is, why it happens and who it affects.

Through story-telling, sharing experiences of students he has met, Mr. Peace related the true impact of our actions, taught ways to overcome pain and hurt, the importance of being a good friend, and how to gain the courage to do and say what’s right. He also shared how to overcome hurt in our lives so we don’t continue the circle of hurt and pain.

“Hurt people hurt people. Healed people heal people,” he shared over and over. A message that stood out for those in attendance. Many bullying programs tell students to be kind, do nice things, and stand up for what is right, which is important. But that message can oftentimes get lost on those who are hurting, who don’t feel like being nice and tend to lash out at those around them.

Mr. Peace acknowledged the pain, the hurt, of those students who might be bullies themselves, and challenged them to see their worth. To see that they have a choice to either stay a hurt person and hurt or embrace forgiveness, embrace hope, embrace their worth, heal and be a healer.

He had students and staff find the “M” on the lines of their hands emphasizing that it stands for “miracle” and when flipped over it stands for “worthy.” Seems like such a simple concept. As adults, we have dedicated our careers, our lives, to caring for and educating children. To think they don’t know that they are miracles, to think they don’t know they are worthy of everything this world has to offer and more, well, it breaks your heart.

And you could see those overcome with pain and emotion across the cafeteria. Those who did not feel like they are a miracle; those hurting for their friends, classmates, students, children who don’t know their worth, and those realizing their actions made someone feel unworthy, as a bully themselves, were all in tears.

Mr. Peace stayed the remainder of the school day to eat lunch with the students, help guide conversations, work through feelings and inspire those really touched by his message. He listened to their stories and encouraged them to spread love, to stand up for what is right, and to heal–a challenge that should be accepted not just by students, but by adults in our schools and community as well.

In a conversation reflecting on this program with a fellow colleague whose wife is also a teacher, he shared that he lovingly reminds her almost every morning that she might give the only love a child receives that day.

What we do in our schools matters. What we teach in our schools matters. Again, like the quote above indicates, the impact we are making in the lives of future adults will long outlive us. It can be challenging and downright hard. It can be jumbled up by paperwork, testing, logistics, you name it.  But boy, is it filled with joy, victories, and rewards beyond measure.  Our ability to show every student, and person for that matter, at WLPS that they are miracles, that they are worthy, is essential. As Mr. Peace would say “in two seconds, we can save a life.”

I want to thank the WLPS PTO for sponsoring this assembly. You can learn more about Mr. Peace and his programs on his website here: http://www.mrpeace.org/. And you can check out more photos from the event HERE.

Next week is Snowcoming!

This is a great opportunity to show school spirit and come out to support Whitmore Lake athletics and all things #TrojanPride. Details on the week’s festivities can be found below.

Between Two Terns

We will be back with News and Notes on Friday, February 9. Next week will be our Friday installment of Between Two Terns. This is a Facebook Live broadcast where I am joined by a special guest to discuss a timely topic. Next week I will be joined by WLHS Athletic Director, Brad McCormack. We will be talking about Trojan athletics, Snowcoming festivities (including Brad McCormack Day) and an exciting upcoming WLHS basketball game at Little Caesars Arena. Mark your calendar for Friday, February 2, 12:30 p.m. to head to our Facebook page to check it out. If you have any specific questions regarding Trojan athletics, Snowcoming, etc. tune in, comment and we will address your question during the broadcast.

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