The Power of Relationships
As if things were not challenging enough with working through the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, last December my mom suffered a major stroke. This, combined with my mom also dealing with moderate dementia, has made communicating with her a difficult task at times. Overall, my mom can maintain a conversation with others, but oftentimes the conversations do not make sense to those speaking with her. In mom’s mind, she is likely making sense and she is eager to engage in conversation with others. What I have learned over the past six months is that it is not so much about what is being said in our conversations when I visit her, but it is the fact that we are together. When I was visiting my mom last week, one of the aides who works with her was extremely playful with her. She spoke in a goofy tone with my mom, tickled her neck, and joked with her. My mom’s reaction was one of pure joy, something that was very assuring to see. With these recent health challenges I have only asked that my mom is safe, comfortable, and engaged in life as much as possible. These experiences with her over the past six months have reminded me that life is most importantly about relationships. I was reminded of the same thing six years ago when my dad faced health challenges that ultimately resulted in the end of his life. Along with my three siblings, I did everything I could to see dad as much as possible. I could not reverse the medical issues he was facing, but I could be there with him and for him.
Schools are first and foremost about relationships. What we teach students through the delivery of curriculum content is important, and helping our students grow academically is important. But teaching our students to be engaged with one another, and to build their relational and social-emotional skills is just as important. To be able to work with people and to understand the points of view of other people are skills badly needed by our students as they move into the world after PK-12 learning. In a time in society where so much energy is seemingly being put into separating ourselves from one another based on our own personal beliefs on a variety of topics, I think it is important now more than ever that we find ways to get closer to one another rather than pulling away from one another. This is another way in which Mount Vernon is such a special place. I see so many examples on a daily basis in the district and in the community where people are focused on building and maintaining positive relationships with one another. I encourage all of us to continue to focus on growing these types of positive relationships with one another as we continue to grow and thrive as a community.
I hope the summer of 2021 is treating you well!