Message from Supt. Dr. Wood - June 26, 2020
Dear Ball-Chatham Families,
The societal changes that have occurred in the past few months have been dramatic and drastic. We have all dealt with uncertainty due to COVID-19. We have been forced to change our behavior, including working remotely and being physically distant, not just from our co-workers and community, but also from extended family and many of our other social outlets. We have also had to try and cope with the tragedy of the senseless death of George Floyd, and the societal unrest as a result.
Our children are inundated with all sources of media, and are watching how we respond. The images of a man dying at the hands - or knee - of a police officer, unrest in the streets, people not getting along, is unsettling for everyone, to say the least. We know that our parents are the best source for providing much-needed guidance for our students. As a school district, we also need to provide guidance in partnership with our parents and guardians. Even though school is not in session at this time, I believe we must nonetheless extend support to our students who are traumatized by what they are seeing and experiencing, and be available to assist as needed. If your child is finding it difficult and in need of assistance, we can provide guidance and counseling, as well as other resources of support. Please do not hesitate to contact us to assist.
We have a responsibility to be cognizant of the social perceptions and viewpoints of our students and community members who have suffered negative outcomes due to race, and race-related inequalities. We must challenge ourselves, and determine how to lead and make substantive changes for racial equality. We need to further develop and maintain meaningful social-responsibility efforts in response to these realities.
At Ball-Chatham, our core values and culture promote inclusion and diversity. We understand as a school district and as human beings, that a diverse community is a creative and productive force. We must be able to talk about, and listen to, the perspectives of everyone, particularly of those from other backgrounds and experiences. We must understand that there are injustices and inequalities that exist around us, and it is our shared responsibility to do what we can to peacefully and respectfully be a change-agent for the community. I will never profess to have all the answers, but I know we can all continue to work to bridge gaps in understanding and diverse perspectives. As we begin school this August, it is important that all of us - not only Ball-Chatham but our entire community - educate themselves about the additional pressures that our students of color face; and that our responses are compassionate, agile, and responsible.
Ball-Chatham believes that education should foster the values of appreciation and acceptance of the various qualities that pertain to people as individuals and as members of diverse populations. We further believe in the importance of observances or programs that accurately portray and recognize the roles, contributions, culture, and history of diverse groups and individuals. To further our efforts as an inclusive school district, we will seize opportunities to learn about people of different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, whether through periodicals, films, or classroom discussions. This will allow all participants in the school to examine our own attitudes and beliefs about people and explore ways we can foster a better understanding and community within the school district. As part of this effort, we will research, explore, and encourage guest speakers from UIS Springfield and other educational institutions to conduct classroom visits (either in-person or virtually) and discussions with the student body on the importance of diversity and inclusion.
We also must not ignore the important role of our outstanding police department in developing a school rapport and culture with our students. Our goal is to allow our students to interact with our officers in a non-confrontational, mentoring role, which is what a School Safety Officer’s main responsibility is. Through the application of funds that we hope to receive from a federal grant submitted in April, we will employ a full-time School Safety Officer at Glenwood High School to further the partnership and bond we have already established with our student community.
Continuing the steps we’ve taken, and going forward on more robust initiatives, will allow us all to more readily value diversity, and become more culturally self-aware of our differences and commonalities. We look forward to taking this journey with our community, and expand on our quest to make the Ball-Chatham School District a model of inclusion, and an example for others to follow.
In the end, WE ARE ALL BETTER TOGETHER!
Dr. Douglas A. Wood