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Madison Metropolitan School District

Weekly Update to the Board of Education 10-28-2021

A message from Superintendent Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.

Dear Board Members,

This week marks the last week of our first quarter. As we approach the second quarter of our school year, it is instructive to reflect on our first nine weeks as we continue on our journey while grappling with global health and racial/social justice pandemics.

This fall, we opened schools for full day, in-person instruction, five days per week. In order to address the anticipated nutritional needs of our students, we have participated in a community feeding option. Also, we hired additional counseling and mental health supports in anticipation our students, staff, and families would bring some emotional trauma from the twin pandemics into our schools upon their return. These strategic investments have been helpful, although food insecurity and social-emotional challenges are still evident in some of our students, families, and staff. In fact, we recently added two mental health days to our staff calendar to support our colleagues’ social-emotional and mental health needs. We recognize the importance of trying to uplift health and wellness in order to ensure all our learning spaces are places where our students, staff, and families can thrive.

Our observations of students, staff, and families during the first quarter have reinforced the importance of voice. As we addressed topics as disparate as professional learning, violence, sustainability, social unrest, and mitigation protocols for celebratory events, our students, staff, families, and community have pushed us to embrace a mentality of co-creation. During these stressful and unprecedented times, we all need to feel included and valued during the process of interrogating and refining policies, practices, programs, and initiatives.

During this first quarter, the importance of embracing humility has been evident. Our unprecedented challenges of multiple pandemics have yielded local and national staffing shortages as well as global supply chain disruptions. As such, we have had to become more nimble and more willing to make strategic pivots in our operations. More importantly, we have had to learn when to acknowledge when our challenges do not have a quick solution but will require a long-term approach and collaborative cocreators.

Throughout this quarter, our district has risen to the occasion. Our students have displayed their potential in the classroom, co-curricular activities, and opportunities for advocacy. Our staff have worked collaboratively to tend to the needs of their students, families, and colleagues despite often being short-staffed. Our families have exemplified resilience. Our community has stepped up to be co-creators, encouragers, and supporters.

As we watch the second quarter of our school year moving into place, I would like to thank you for your continued support and partnership. We look forward to providing you with more updates on our district’s progress and planning next week.

Sincerely,
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.

 

Weekly Update, October 28, 2021