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Celebrating Our Public Schools

February has been a month of celebrations in schools. From make-believe beach parties for I Love to Read Month to Black History Month, Career and Technical Education Month, and Minnesota School Board Appreciation Month. We’ve had ample opportunities to celebrate learning. Literacy, history, civic engagement, and career readiness are the foundations of public education. February 27-March 3 is Public Schools Week. It’s an opportunity for communities across the country to celebrate the importance of public schools. 

In Cambridge-Isanti Schools, we celebrate the promise of public schools as places where every child, no matter their situation, is educated, engaged, and inspired to fulfill their potential.

Our schools are also thinking forward, to nurturing curiosity and instilling in children a love of lifelong learning. In the future, they will need to learn and relearn as jobs transform throughout their lives. We aren’t just educating students for 12 years, we are educating them for a lifetime.

And it's about more than just skills and knowledge. Our Bluejacket staff inspire students to be curious, brave, and believe in themselves. Both in classes and beyond, we teach students to think critically and to see the world in new and exciting ways. Whether opening their imaginations to a new book or tapping them on the shoulder to consider a career — every interaction with students is an opportunity to connect, build a trusting relationship, and introduce new possibilities.

If we look around our community — or around the world— we can see the impact public education has had on almost every other profession. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, electricians, naturalists, accountants, plumbers, performers, and entrepreneurs can likely look back and thank a teacher, counselor, principal, or school staff member for inspiring them to pursue their calling. Who inspired you?

The responses are incredible when we ask that question on our C-I Schools Facebook page. We have thousands of graduates, many who remained or returned to our community to raise a family. They appreciate the outstanding education they received — and they trust C-I Schools to prepare their children to be responsible, respectful, compassionate, honest and self-disciplined humans, just as they experienced the generation before.

Excellence in education doesn’t happen by accident. It is an intentional effort to attract educators who are called to make a difference for others. The curriculum and lessons are important and open doors to connect on a deeper level. For example, when teachers are working with a student learning to read, they might be working on phonics and letter sounds at a basic level. But on a higher level - at our purpose level -  they are teaching this child a fundamental skill to make a living — one that will open doors to the world and change their life. 

Every employee is vital to making our system work. For example, a custodian might open our schools on a cold, dark early morning. At a basic level, they might be turning on the lights and heat. Still, on a higher level, they are ensuring warmth and creating a better environment for learning. Without their commitment and pride in their work — learning doesn’t happen.

Without our bus drivers – also early risers — most students wouldn’t get to school. At a higher level, they set the tone for the start and end of each school day. They have the power to lift children’s spirits and make them feel seen, valued, and supported while safely transporting them to school.

Our instructional assistants serve as a lifeline for students on individual education plans to access learning at their rate. Instructional assistants are valued teaching partners to ensure every student has access to the quality education they deserve. 

And we should remember the meals served in our schools and delivered throughout the community during the pandemic. Our food service staff may be cooking and cutting food during the day—feeding hearts and minds—and at a higher level, they are on the frontline for reducing childhood hunger and food insecurity in our community.

The relationships we build with students are foundational to their motivation. We believe in the inspirational words of the late educator Rita Pierson, that “every child deserves a champion. An adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection. And insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”  As you think about the education you received, who encouraged you? Who saw your potential? Who cared for you on good days and bad? The relationships we build have a lasting impact. 

I can’t imagine a world without strong public schools. We are called to make an impact, see in others what they might not see in themselves, and inspire them to their fullest potential. I’ve dedicated my life to public education, and I’m so proud to work alongside our Bluejacket staff — your friends and neighbors who go above and beyond for our community and our children — It’s the Bluejacket Way!

This week and every week, please thank our teachers, coaches, instructional assistants, office staff, principals and leaders, food service staff, support staff, technicians, buildings and grounds crew, bus drivers, community education, and Adventure Center staff. We are a community of professionals motivated to meet the needs of ALL children and families in our communities. This is our calling, and we serve a noble cause. We are proud to serve in OUR public schools!

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