Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice writes:
I want to run, I want to hide. I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside. I want to reach out and touch the flame, where the streets have no name.
17-year-old me heard the words of an Irish poet, and interpreted them simply as a license to drive faster. The pulsating rhythms and escalating sounds just made my dad’s car go faster, or so it seemed.
In a quiet, saddened state, 51-year-old me heard these words last night and somehow found solace. That same energy began to rush through me. But with each pounding step on the pavement, running from something, or to something, I used that energy to push to find some sliver of transcendent hope.
As the son of a professional musician, it should come as no surprise that I’ve always had music to accompany me on my journey. Whether it is to celebrate, to inspire, to comfort, or to ignite, I’ve always had music to help me transcend.
I saw this today. I found transcendent hope within the walls of our schools today. I saw this in our schools, with your children, led by some of the very best.
I pounded my feet on the floor of a preschool classroom with about a dozen raucous little friends to the music of Laurie Berkner. I kneeled on the carpet of a kindergarten classroom pondering the many ways my new friends can compose the number 9 with unifix cubes. I watched a herd of middle schoolers soak up Mother Nature’s best during their recess. In each school I visited, I found countless professionals who came with their very best today.
Our building principals worked to provide guidance to our faculty and support staff before the school day even began. Our partners with the Westport Police Department were ready and willing to provide reassurance with their visibility. We even had our second successful coordinated emergency response in one week, as the Fire and Police Departments helped impeccably address a small electrical fire at Long Lots Elementary School.
In all of these examples, I saw nothing but professionalism and expertise. The type of professionalism and expertise that inspires me to transcend the moment. The hurt is still there, but a sliver of transcendent hope emerged from those that serve your children and our community.
We are not perfect. We are a system composed of imperfect people. But today, on the backs of our team, we took a baby step towards transcending.
If I’ve learned anything as a father, and as an educator, it is that our kids are watching us. Every move. They saw us in action today and I could not be more proud of our team.
I wanted to provide a broad overview to the entire school community, but as we move forward, building principals will continue to communicate any necessary information related to events leading up to the last day of school.
There will be increased patrols across our campuses and we will have additional police presence on campus during elementary school field days. Fortunately, our team regularly practices drills and reviews our protocols at the building level, and we will continue to remain vigilant, doing our best to ensure the highest standards of safety. If you have specific questions related to your child’s school I encourage you to contact your building principal.
If you need assistance in speaking with your child about Tuesday’s tragedy, here are some resources that you might find helpful:
- Click here for “Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers.”
- Click here for “How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings.”
The town of Westport, it’s children and their parents are incredibly fortunate to have Tom Scarice as Superintendent, particularly during such stressful times. His ability to communicate in a thoughtful, timely and compassionate way is a mark of true leadership.