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Be the sunshine

Every day thousands of Duluth families wake up and prepare to send their children off to school where we as educators are entrusted to help them learn and grow into successful young adults.

When my children were little my wife and I woke them with a silly rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” followed by laughter, hugs and breakfast. I’m sure there are many children in Duluth that wake to similar traditions and family activities.

I also know there are children in our community that have a different experience, for whom morning is a time of strategizing and self-sufficiency. They get themselves up, prepare themselves for school and may do so in the midst of instability and uncertainty.

That fact was brought home once more during a meeting to increase communication between the police and schools when students witness something traumatic. Such events often lead children to need extra support during the weeks and months that follow and the conversation began with an educator who experienced the need firsthand.

For all students, but especially for those who need extra support, strong caring relationships with teachers and staff can make a huge difference in the lives of students. We are fortunate to have many caring adults working in our schools. They invest time and care into learning more about the children they serve, reaching out to students as individuals and letting them know they are cared for. Sometimes the students who need us most push away from us the hardest, yet we persist in working to make those all-important connections, collaborating with families to help support their child's learning and success.

Work remains — at the local, state and national level — because not all students are realizing success. I do believe we are heading in the right direction in Duluth in our ongoing willingness to examine where we are and to work with people inside and outside our schools to improve. I believe in our ability to make a difference in the lives of every student. I believe all of our students can achieve and that all can fulfill the requirements of graduation. As long as we work together, I believe that our community can do what it takes to help all students be successful.

The beginning of May is Teacher Appreciation Week, a time recognize the importance of educators in the lives of young people. Please join me in sharing appreciation for all Northland teachers and for their contributions to our community and country.

Bill Gronseth

Bill Gronseth is the superintendent of Duluth Public Schools. Contact him at (218) 336-8752 or email william.gronseth@duluth.k12.mn.us.

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