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Superintendent's Message, November 2019

Superintendent’s Message, November 2019
Todd Freeman, Ed.D.

John O’Leary is an example of resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. In his book On Fire, he recounts almost dying from a gasoline explosion, the grueling recovery process, and life afterwards. O’Leary tells story after story of “inflection points” where he had to make a decision to give up or to keep pressing on. His message of hope and perseverance is an inspiration to me.

An important takeaway from the book is that O’Leary was surrounded by people who encouraged, challenged, and walked alongside him throughout his difficult journey. The message of having supportive relationships in life is one that resonates with all of us. During our recent strategic planning process, students often spoke of the importance of positive and supportive relationships with teachers when faced with challenges. Visit our website to see and hear more of what they say about our wonderful teachers at www.vestavia.k12.al.us/celebratevhcs

Unfortunately, there are children who walk the halls of our schools and the sidewalks in our community who carry heavy burdens we may know nothing about. We know that approximately one in five adolescents in the United States will be faced with a mental health disorder and, unfortunately, most will not receive professional support. This crisis is an inflection point in our nation and community.

A trademark of our school system is the unparalleled community support we receive. This allows us to provide a continuum of social and emotional support for students that include counselors and nurses at every school, a system social worker, and multiple community partnerships. Confronting the rising rate of mental health disorders, however, will take a team effort. Families, churches, schools, and the entire community are all important in this work. The African proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child” is poignant and accurate.

In that spirit, we are all educators, and the invitation to positively impact our children is open to everyone. May we lift up our children who are faced with difficult circumstances. May we help them persevere toward the light that shines at the end of every dark tunnel. May we all embrace challenges as opportunities to reach higher than we thought was possible.