235 years is a very long time to keep a great thing going.
If we didn’t, our cherished freedoms would probably just another “can you believe this?” entry in Wikipedia.
There’s no way anyone could overstate the role public education plays in strengthening and sustaining all that we appreciate and and experience in our country.
Of course, I’m now tempted to try and “overstate” it for you , but heck… it’s a holiday! I’ll give you a break.
And the role public education plays in inviting and including others to infuse new richness and meaning into our lives and traditions can’t be understated, either.
So, as you celebrate today, celebrate your calling as an educator and school communicator, also.
Jazmen Austen and her son would want you to.
You see, one month ago, I watched Jazmen walk across the stage to shake my superintendent’s hand and receive her diploma.
This moment followed Jazmen’s brief words of gratitude from the podium.
She said that her journey to finishing high school wouldn’t have happened at all without the encouragement and support of caring school people who believed in her.
“You helped me get direction and purpose. I’ve lived in 20 different communities, four different shelters, and attended 13 different schools. And I didn’t make things any easier for me by getting pregnant. But you stayed with me, building up my potential. And I was accepted into Purdue this fall… and I’m excited about growing and fulfilling my duties to the son I love so much. I’ve got a wonderful story to tell, thanks to you.”
And while I think Jazmen is an incredibly unique young woman, I don’t believe she’s unique to just my school district.
I know there are “Jazmens” in your schools as well.
What we do – as best we can – prepares young people in this generation to “step up” as best they can to live up to and revitalize the legacy we celebrate today.
I’m proud to ring the Liberty Bell of public education with you.