Oct. 1, 2020
Ray-Pec Parents,

In a normal, non-Covid year, the Ray-Pec teaching, support staff and administrative teams come together to open the school year in an event known as convocation. This year we decided to forgo the gathering because of the health concern in bringing close to 1,000 people together in a confined space. Instead, I met individually with building teams over a three-day period in August to talk about the upcoming school year. There were three main points to my message. You are already familiar with two of those points because I have written about them in previous emails: One, we need to be ready to plan and adjust for the school year in front of us; and two, we need to extend patience and grace to ourselves and each other as we venture through this year.  I spent much of the time in my meetings with staff on my third point: Embrace The Ambiguity.

Embrace The Ambiguity

Embracing the ambiguity is all about the mindset we take into this school year. We know this year is unlike any school year in recent history. Many changes have been necessary in a very short period of time. I know you as parents and your children are feeling that. Our staff is feeling that as well. In examining our response to embracing the ambiguity, I sought our team’s help. I asked those who are good at being comfortable with ambiguity, and able to weather the proverbial storms of what life throws at us this year, to reach out and help those who are not as comfortable. I explained the idea behind the phrase “Embrace The Ambiguity” was that we all need each other, especially during this school year, to make it through wholly and successfully. I then asked for a favor. I wanted our staff to tell me stories of when, throughout the year, one team member helped another through a tough time, through dealing with the ambiguity of the moment, or when someone just needed help. I have had many stories sent to me, that I in turn send out in a periodic email to staff. Below are three of the stories I have had the privilege of sharing with our team: 

Story 1: 
I just have to write to you to tell you of the wonderful support I’ve received from my Kindergarten grade level team and the first grade team after my husband's heart attack yesterday. They have all reached out to ask how they could help, as well as, offered prayers, emotional support, and well wishes. It brings tears of joy to my eyes. Unfortunately I’m an ugly crier, lol. I am unable to leave the hospital due to Covid rules, (If you leave you cannot return for 24 hours, so I am staying by my husband’s side.)  I got a migraine today and with the rush to get him here, I have nothing with me but keys and my phone. The gift shop is closed on Sunday and will be closed tomorrow for the holiday. My Kindergarten team along with the First grade team dropped off Dr. Pepper and Excedrin Migraine Medicine at the front desk to be brought up to my husband’s room. I am beyond grateful for these two teams and the short time we’ve had together that they would go above and beyond to help me out.  just wanted to let you know, as I’m sure you are aware, of what wonderful people you have on your team! Feeling blessed!

Story 2:
I am a first year teacher. I am so excited to be teaching third grade this year. In your Convocation speech you asked us to email you encouraging things going on in the buildings, and I wanted to reach out and share about my amazing team. My team teacher and I had time set aside on Friday for starting our plans for the week in her room. Well, as the day went on, our plan time kept getting pushed back. It was 2pm and we still didn’t have complete plans for Monday. Along with the stress of having to plan, we were navigating everything else that was happening on the last work day before school starts. When someone came into my teammate's room to ask how we are doing, I confessed that I was stressed and that there was so much to do. They encouraged me and said it was going to be okay. A few minutes passed and I went to get something out of my classroom and found 5 people working on things I had laid out or didn’t get the chance to do yet, and even the principal was cutting out my laminated paper!! They were hanging things on the walls, cutting things out, making a seating chart, making my name tags.. I was shocked and in tears that my team would pull together for me to take some of my stressors away. It's so encouraging to know that I have a team that truly cares about me and my well being. I am so happy to be a part of the Ray-Pec family!

Story 3 (from a parent):
I just wanted to say thank you so much for the meal packs we picked up today for my boys in the ViPR program. The food looks tasty and the printed menu/instructions were so well thought out. I can tell how much love and work went into their food. Both of the boys were so excited to see the milk cartons and had to open one up right away to reminisce on their in-person days. They went through each food item as we put it away to tell me all of their favorites. Thank you to all of the cafeteria and nutrition staff that put so much work into feeding my babies.

These are three of the many stories that have been shared with me. I would love to know about your stories as well. Tell me about the times when a staff member has gone the proverbial extra mile for your children, when you have gone the extra mile for one of our staff members, or anything in between. We are all well aware of the heaviness that life sometimes feels like right now. Let’s continue to celebrate the stories of the good. Send them my way. I would love to share them.

Introducing Ray-Pec Parent University

In keeping with the theme of Embracing The Ambiguity, I want to make sure you are aware that a new resource is available for Ray-Pec families. Ray-Pec Parent University is a Facebook group with a mission of engaging, educating, and empowering parents to build a resilient community. This is all a part of building our capacity to embrace the ambiguity that may come our way. Although Ray-Pec Parent University is a private Facebook group, you need only answer a couple of questions and agree to the group's guidelines to be admitted. The project was developed by members of the District's Mental Health Task Force..

In closing, the Ray-Pec Board of Education and I want to thank you, parents and guardians, for embracing the ambiguity thus far in the school year. Every day is a new adventure for all of us. While we can’t promise what our tomorrows will look like, we can promise you that we will make the very best of each day that we have with your children.

Thank you for entrusting your children to the Ray-Pec School District.

Mike Slagle

I am passionately driven by the belief that Everyone Is Created To Flourish