Today is the last day of the school year, a date that looked so far out in the distance when we started school on August 23rd.  Check that, we didn’t start school until August 30th because Iowa decided to have a hurricane last summer.  I can’t thank everyone enough again for working through a difficult, challenging, confusing, and unprecedented year.  Great communities rally during tough times, and I am proud to echo the words of famous Mount Vernon resident, Dean Borg:  “Yes, we are Mount Vernon!”

As quickly as one school year ends, we begin planning for the next one.  We are hoping that it is a year that is as normal as possible, but we will be planning on best case and worst case scenarios so that we are ready when the kids return on August 23rd (unless of course we have another hurricane).  We have actually already started the process of preparing for next year, and as we think about our students and staff members we plan to focus our energy on several things.  First, we plan to revisit our cultural norms to ensure that everything we do is reflective of our core values as a district and as a community.  We also plan on focusing on the social and emotional well-being of our students and staff members, knowing that while we plan on a “normal” year people may still be struggling as a result of the trauma they may have faced over the past year and a half.  We are also focusing on continuing to improve our work in the classroom with the students, ensuring they continue to receive a first-class education.  We will spend a great deal of time working on our learning standards, including beginning a more in depth curriculum review in each academic area.  We will begin more intensive curriculum reviews in English/Language Arts and Science in 2021, Math and Social Studies in 2022, World Languages and Physical Education in 2023, and Fine Arts and Career Technical Education in 2024.  We are committed to continuous growth, and as part of our growth process we will continue to reach out to you for your feedback regarding our programs.

I know this is something I say every year at this time, but this year it takes on greater meaning.  Please take time to relax and unwind this summer after a tumultuous year.  Take time to take that extra day or week off to be with your family and friends.  Take that trip you have been putting off for too long, read that book you have been meaning to read, and just do nothing once in a while without feeling guilty about it.

While I have always felt great pride in leading this wonderful place, I have never been more proud of everyone than right now.  We have persevered and we have grown.  Most importantly, we are ready for the next chapter in our journey together.  Enjoy the summer!