Friday, June 3, 2016

Letter to parents regarding teachers

Dear Parents, 

I want to share with you a few personal reflections that I have kept to myself all year regarding my commitment to the Mission of the Madeleine. 

I deeply love the Madeleine's Mission. I believe my early years at the Madeleine (1993-2001) were profoundly formative. I imbibed the culture and the Spirit of the Dominican Charism and worked alongside some very amazing educators.

These past six years have also been extremely rewarding. Partnering with tremendously giving and talented colleagues, collaborating with the expertise of committed parents and stakeholders to plan and advance the school’s Mission and serving the smartest, sweetest and most exceptional children and their parents has been extremely rewarding. 

Reflecting back over the course of this year I realized how precious and vulnerable each and every one of our teachers are and how vital they are to the success of our Mission. 

This year, many of our staff members were confronted with life events that resulted in their presence being called away: birth of new child, serious health issues, and family emergencies and needs. Each time a staff member was called away, his or her absence was deeply felt by the entire community. These sometimes sudden occurrences left me wondering how I was going to fill the void left by the absences while trying keep a sense of equilibrium within the community.

In every instance our community of educators rose to the occasion. Every teacher found a way to support the students being impacted by the absence of another colleague. The generous spirit among the teachers at the Madeleine is unprecedented. 

I share this reflection with you because it is also clear to me that our teachers could certainly work at other schools or other dioceses and achieve a higher income. Clearly, the staff at the Madeleine is here because of the culture and the climate of education and collaboration that exists at our school. This became more than evident this year in light of all the events that impacted our staff. 

I share this reflection with you because your child’s teacher, the teacher who taught your child in the past, and the teachers who will teach your child in the future, need to know that you cherish and value their presence as well. Each teacher here is passionate about learning, is committed to your child, and chooses to be present to our Mission so your child will flourish and grow. 

I share this reflection with you so you can share my sense of gratitude with the teachers. Your words of thanks, your trust in their pedagogy, your willingness to hear challenging observations about your child and your commitment to partner with them is what they need to experience from you if we are going to retain and support our teachers for the years ahead. 

Take minute and think about one of the teachers—now reflect on the impact his or her absence would have on the school if he or she were to leave. 

I spent this entire year reflecting on that reality. 

I can honestly say, that this reality has informed how I communicate, how I confront a problem or a challenge but more important how I demonstrate my gratitude for their presence and their value. How might this reality inform your response the teachers at the Madeleine?

As you read the personnel updates for 2016-2017 school year (please see the updates posted on SchoolSpeak), I hope you will join me with this sense of sincere gratitude for the all the staff who are returning, the staff who will assume new roles, and for those colleagues who are moving on from the Madeleine. I also hope that before the end of year you will find a way to express your gratitude to the Madeleine’s amazing staff. 


Ken Willers