Happy winter break: sharing gratitude and other updates

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear students, staff, families and community,

As we prepare to take some time off for winter break, I want to share a few reflections and give thanks to our students, staff, families, school board and broader community.

This time of year can stir up a variety of emotions in all of us from celebratory to anxious; there is something powerful in the air as we note the changing seasons and think about the new year.

Thanks to those of you who recently shared thoughts about your child’s school in our annual school climate survey. Your input helps influence school culture, and we heard key themes about what you value in our schools: being welcomed, being cared about and belonging. First, we’re fortunate to live in a community where people love our schools. Just a note, as we plan for adjustments to our schools’ boundaries in fall 2021 and 2022, we will be sharing more details with those affected by new attendance areas after (not before) winter break.

Second, these values are the foundation to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), which remind us how important it is to honor our differences, from race and ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, language and culture, which includes religion, to better serve our students, families, staff and community. Many of you will be celebrating holidays in the coming days, including the solstice, Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, and I encourage you to think about ways to reach out to others in a spirit of celebrating differences and finding commonality. I was recently invited to the local synagogue Congregation Beth Israel to attend an event, learn more about the Jewish faith and engage with a number of our students and families. I also visited the Lummi Nation earlier this month and heard about their journey and some of their special and unique traditions. I’m so appreciative to both of these groups for extending an invitation and offering such a welcoming experience. We are lucky to live in such a rich and diverse community.

This isn’t an Oscar speech, but I feel compelled to express gratitude to many of you.

  • Thank you to our exceptional students. I see amazing people developing in our classrooms every day. Thanks for being an inspiration to all of us and the reason we come to work every morning. As The Promise says, we love you!
  • Thank you to our staff. You’re incredible. Thank you for taking such good care of our students, our families and each other. The skills, expertise and overall joy you bring to your profession is unparalleled.
  • Thank you to our families, our children’s first teachers. You provide unwavering support not only to your own kids but to so many others. Thank you for being advocates and partners in our shared work to love and empower our youth.
  • Thank you to our school board for your continued support. Thank you to all our past board members for their years of service, and welcome to our newest board member Katie Rose, who took her oath of office last week.
  • Thank you to our community. Thanks for your continued support and for believing in our schools and staff. We appreciate your generosity, whether you are volunteering in our schools, donating to the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation or showing support for our levies and bonds – or all three. (You’ll hear more about our levies ahead of the Feb. special election!)

Thank you, and see you in 2020!

Greg Baker