Superintendent's Messages to Families

November 1, 2020 - Supporting Our Children and our Community During Election Week


Dear Gloucester Families,


2020 has been filled with many difficult days for our community and country. 


It’s been hard personally, professionally, economically, and politically for individuals, families, and neighbors near and far. 


I am writing to you today because I worry that the days after the election may be the most difficult yet. I want to share some thoughts about how as a school community we need to reach out to each other and support our children and students even if we disagree about the outcome of the election. 


Over the course of this year across the country, and especially during the election season, we have witnessed a loss of decorum and civility. Disagreement has too easily become demonization. For the first time in my lifetime, there seems to be a real possibility of violence after an election.


Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, there will be strong feelings in our families, community, and in our schools. There will be elation, hope and pride for some. At the same time others will be dealing with concern, fear, and even anger. These emotions will exist in and around our schools on November 4th and the days to follow.  


Our children and students will need support. They see their parents, families, and teachers as role models. How we respond lets them know how it’s okay to respond. 


My hope is that we will take care of each other in the aftermath of an election season and a year that has laid bare deep divisions and differing views of where the country is headed. 


I hope that those who see themselves as winners on Tuesday will have the grace to allow others to grieve, be sad, or even be angry. And at the same time, those who feel defeated will hurt without being hurtful. 


I hope that we will remind each other and our children that civility matters and disagreeing without being disagreeable is essential to living, learning, and working together. 


I hope that we will make sure our children and students know, despite the fraying of social norms, that kindness still matters in our schools, in our neighborhoods, and in our city. 


Please remind your children and students that while they may be happy about the result, others will be hurting and are likely having a very, very different type of morning, day or week. Remind your children, especially teenagers, to be considerate of others and their reaction. Please talk to them about what it means to win graciously and lose productively. 


If you have time, you may find it helpful to read the attached article which was first published after the 2016 election. I think it has some good guidance for us that can help our children including:

  1. Your feelings are okay, whatever they are

  2. These are challenging times, and the world is not coming to an end

  3. Human beings, our country, and our community are incredibly resilient

  4. Listening helps, and more listening helps more


In the short time I have been here, I have learned that Gloucester is a pretty remarkable community. It is a successful city with a long, accomplished history. It is a diverse community - ethnically, socio-economically, culturally -  and has been for decades upon decades. Things are not all rosy in Gloucester. There are real challenges here that many of our families face every day. 


And yet, in Gloucester, unlike many places, we are connected with each other. That may be through family, or neighborhood, or work, or just because many of our community members have been here for generations. And from what I’ve seen, Gloucester rises to challenges. The city, its leaders, and its people – you – deal with the hard stuff and want to find solutions. 


Ultimately after the election, we will still be faced with the ongoing work of making our community and our country more just and more compassionate. We will still be faced with overcoming COVID and continuing to build economic and social opportunities for our families and children. Hopefully as a country, we will stand up together for those who have been marginalized and continue to work for the rights of all people to be treated with dignity and respect.


So my hope is that in the coming days and weeks, we will continue to look out for each other. And that we will all continue to work together to support our children so they know they are valued, safe, and supported so they can become the leaders we need in our community, state, and country. 


Sincerely, 


Ben Lummis

Superintendent

Gloucester Public Schools


Article: The Day After The Election - 4 Key Messages Your Children Need to Hear


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