AN OPEN LETTER TO OUR CLOVIS UNIFIED COMMUNITY FROM SUPERINTENDENT EIMEAR O'FARRELL, ED.D.
Education is a game changer, and as I have watched the events of the past week unfold across our country… the expressions of generational pain and frustration, the cries for unity and healing… I am reminded all over again of the powerful role of education to change the game for our communities. It’s not easy, it doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a journey of a million miles that we must travel together.
This month, I marked my third year as superintendent of Clovis Unified. I remember back to my first months on the job, when we confronted some of the same issues that are in the news today and the challenge that was embraced by my leadership team to re-evaluate how well our cultural proficiency system was working to build the capacity of our students and employees across all cultures to live in mutual respect and unity. Over the past three years, we have built bridges with our students, students like Abbi Akande and Faith McKesson who, with others, have been an important part of my student leadership council; and with parents and partners in our community, like Vicki Montgomery and Shawn Wills, who for three years have worked arm-in-arm with my leadership team to understand the specific needs of our African American students. Together we have taken great strides on our journey to keep Clovis Unified’s aim number one, aim number one, which is to Maximize Achievement for ALL (and by all we mean all) Students.
On May 20, my leadership team presented a report to the Clovis Unified Governing Board about the progress we are making on this journey, and I’d like to share with you the video from that presentation here: https://vimeo.com/425654578
. I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to learn about this important work underway in our district. In it, you can learn more about our efforts to create a school environment where all students feel respected by teachers and their fellow students; our work to develop a high quality workforce of role models who can connect and identify with every student; culturally relevant teaching and partnerships aimed at closing achievement gaps and maximizing the achievement of every single student in Clovis Unified. We care about ALL our kids and we want them to have no doubt about it!
Our work isn’t perfect, and it is far from complete. Just as we have seen over the past week, these are wounds that run deep and are complex questions that don’t have easy answers. Education really is the game changer. When done right, it builds understanding. It raises awareness. It increases capacity for respect, for compassion, and for hope. As we look to a future after the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests this past week, I encourage our community to search out ways to support each other. Let us demonstrate care and seek mutual understanding of the unique challenges we each experience. If we promote healing over dissension, humility over pride, then we truly effect meaningful change.