Patrick C. Hickey
Photo by Amy E. Voigt
(The Toledo Blade)
As leaders, we never know when crises will hit, but we do everything in our power to prepare for them and pray they never do. When and if the worst happens, we gather our people and resources and work together to move forward. We examine what we could have done differently and we assess what we have learned.
Each year on September 11th, we remember the terrorist attacks on our nation, and we can't help but see the security measures that have been put in place in airports, in government buildings, and in our schools. We live in a global society, and the events of 2001 impacted all of us. We saw the images. We heard the stories. We felt the terror. We didn't have to be there to understand the danger or to learn from the experience.
Parents and educators sometimes wish all lessons could be learned by watching and listening. We strive to always protect our children and keep them safe, but we know that pain, hurt, and disappointment are part of life. Sometimes experience is the best teacher. Life lessons may not be easy, but they aren't forgotten.
Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans, recently reflected on the lessons learned from Hurricanes Isaac and Katrina. Although Isaac was less severe, it was a real-life test of the work and preparations that have occurred in the past seven years. Comparing the two storms, Landrieu applauded the cooperation and support New Orleans received. "The city can't operate in isolation to anything," he said. "The best thing that's different from then [Katrina] is the relationship between the federal, state, and local authorities."
Relationships and cooperation are also key in prevailing over the very real challenges that face our schools, including budget cuts and policies that impact the education and care of our children. In the Washington Local School District, we put children first in each and every decision we make. Washington Local provides educational programming and services to 6,700 children and youth. Whitmer High School offers over 200 courses, honors and AP classes, and 15 career training programs. Whitmer also offers 22 varsity sports, 50 extracurricular activities, and extensive opportunities in art, music, and theater. Students learn teamwork, leadership, discipline, and responsibility as they participate in activities that fuel their passions. Our teachers and coaches serve as role models and examples, ensuring our young people not only learn our core values, but live them. Our students are raising funds for worthy causes and volunteering their time. These are lessons that help boys and girls grow into men and women. These are lessons that last a lifetime.
Last spring, we held our first Infinite Opportunity Olympics, a track-and-field day for children with special needs. I.O.O. celebrated the 500 children with special needs we have in our district, and on that day our student helpers and staff learned life lessons from these students whose purpose and passion is inspiring beyond belief.
I invite you to attend our events, visit our schools, and experience the hope, the wonder, and the celebration of learning that occurs each day.
Patrick C. Hickey