Mohonasen Central School District will focus this year on a theme of “Constructing a Culture of Acceptance and Adaptability.”
Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Spring introduced the theme during staff opening day Sept. 6.
“It’s not enough to construct buildings,” said Spring, noting the extensive work performed in the district in the past year. “We have to construct the culture within.”
Spring noted that people’s words and actions can remain in our memory long after they are uttered or experienced and shared several examples that had a lasting impact on her.
Spring cited “the toxic nature of verbal exchanges on the national level.”
“How are we supposed to tell our kids that it is not appropriate to be inconsiderate, downright mean or dishonest when that is what we are exposed to each day?” Spring said. “It is way too easy to fire off an email or post a rant on Facebook rather than trying to work things out in person or talk it through.”
In spite of these shifts toward the negative, Spring said she believes the Mohonasen community can rise above this environment of disrespect.
“I believe we have the ability to shift these behaviors and interactions, at least within our Mohonasen school community,” she said. “I am convinced that we can ‘Construct a Culture of Acceptance and Adaptability.’ We have the opportunity have an effect on the future, on the students whom we influence daily.”
Spring said the district has established a task force comprised of students, parents, staff, teachers and administrators to discuss and address some of the challenging issues facing the district. Yet, even small actions can have a profound effect, she said, quoting author Leo Buscaglia: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
“If we truly want to construct a culture of acceptance and adaptability, it has to start with us,” said Spring.
Spring shared a powerful video entitled, “What is your hope?” produced by Parkway Schools in St. Louis, Missouri, and encouraged staff to keep the video in mind with the start of the school year.
“Think about what you hope for. Think about what students hope for. I am convinced there is a strong alignment between the two,” she said. (Watch the video.)
To promote this year’s theme, the district will use the hashtag #ItStartsWithUs to highlight positive activities and achievements within the district.
The morning kicked off with a welcome from Board of Education President Robert Piccirillo, who thanked staff for their support. Piccirillo shared a story of his mom’s current health challenge and said his decision to run for a board seat again in 2016 was prompted by encouragement from his mom during a visit to view the new Center for Advanced Technology at Mohonasen.
“She said, ‘You have to see this through,’” said Piccirillo. “Everyone in this room has a job to do. It’s extremely important and rewarding, but it’s hard work. My mom is my inspiration. I hope you find yours.”