- Parma City School District
A message from Superintendent Charles Smialek, Ph.D.
April 6, 2020
Today marks the beginning of the second phase of our closure.
Students will continue to learn from their homes and teachers will continue to make themselves available for consultation via email, Google Meet, or other emerging forms of technology.
Our nutrition services staff will continue to provide borderline heroic support to our families through the distribution of milk and food.
And, our administrators will continue to lead, supporting the efforts of those with whom they work, providing encouragement to our students, and doing “whatever it takes” to make this spring as productive and positive as possible. In short, we will continue to personify the sense of resilience that endures within and has sustained our iconic district as a sense of pride across our three communities.
But, make no mistake, the form of education we will deliver until the Governor tells us we can resume traditional schooling is nothing short of an experiment, hatched under what can best be described as adverse circumstances. Imagine a football team informed that their traditional ball, with which they have practiced and honed their craft for years, has been replaced by a frisbee five days before the season starts. The team would certainly work to adjust as they know they have no real choice in the matter, and,`some players with unique skill sets would even thrive. But the game that we have all come to know and rely upon as a staple of our culture certainly would not be the same for any of us.
Our teachers, our students, and our families are enduring similar challenges. The fundamental pillar of our system of public education is the relationship that emerges between a teacher and his/her students. Relationships are, at best, superficial without everyday interaction that can tell someone so much more about another than a written word.
The fundamental pillar of our pedagogy is the master teacher’s use of cues and questions to stimulate discussion, to check for understanding, to prompt original thought in the minds of the class. Cues, questions, and discussions, are, at best, forced and robotic without the ability of teachers to “read the room”, and adjust his/her approach “on the fly” as students offer preciously rare glimpses into their psyches.
The fundamental challenge of our large, urban public school district, is the combination of daily travails that students endure as they learn to “navigate the system” inherent to any organization with, literally, thousands of diverse perspectives and variables that contribute to the unique, irreplicable synergy of the whole. These perspectives, this panoply of variables have been dramatically reduced in the enclosed, restricted reality we now describe as our “new normal.”
These words, this picture of despair, are not meant to poke at the scabs we all carefully tend as we cope with the sacrifices we will continue to make for the foreseeable future. No, we should not, we cannot wallow in self-pity in the face of this pervasive, invisible opponent that has swept our globe.
Instead, these words are an invitation to reflect upon all of the gifts that our daily rituals bring to us and to our families. For now is not forever. And, for all of us, we anticipate, and prepare for a return to school, this time realizing just a little bit more how very special are the teaching and learning processes of our Parma Schools.