Finding Hidden Treasure in the Rubble
It’s hard to overstate the impact of last October’s wildfires on our Redwood Valley community. People lost their lives, their pets, their homes, and their possessions; many of them also lost their sense of security and wellbeing. Even now, people are only beginning to come to grips with the full effect of this trauma, making it easy to sink into despair and to focus on what is wrong rather than what is right. However, despite the fear and heartbreak our friends, family, and neighbors have experienced and are experiencing, one of the things they did not lose is their sense of community. And with a sense of community comes hope.
Last week, in collaboration with Eagle Peak teacher Naomi Nungaray, Senator Mike McGuire visited Eagle Peak Middle School to praise and encourage our students. He praised them for supporting each other through the tough times, and he encouraged them to follow their passions to make their community (and the world) a better place, primarily by doing three things: 1) Working hard; 2) Working collaboratively to get things done; and 3) Never taking no for an answer. What a great message for our young people! I could not agree with him more.
As I listened to him address our students, I began thinking about my life passions and what I care about most. Beyond my three beautiful children, my deepest passion is to help ALL children reach their potential. Educating children has been my life’s work; it is what gives me the energy to put forth my best effort from the moment I wake up until my head hits the pillow each night. I hope, through education, we can continue to improve the lives of young people so they can build and shape our communities in wonderful ways.
We have such amazing students in our schools. During Senator McGuire’s presentation, he asked several students to share their passions with the assembled crowd. I listened to one student tell Senator McGuire that she is passionate about her family. She said she realizes how hard her parents work to give her and her siblings an excellent education, and she wants to pay them back by being successful in school and in life. These are the types of stories I hear when I visit our schools, and they inspire me.
I also get inspired by our students’ creativity and collaboration. Just last week, I visited Pomolita Middle School where students in David Weber’s MESA class were creating catapults using a variety of materials. Their goal was to launch a marble as far as they could. In speaking with the students, I learned how complex and challenging this project was. They had to measure angles and understand how things like velocity and torque would affect the flight of their marble. It was wonderful watch them collaborate to overcome problems together.
We can help students continue to hone their problem-solving skills by modelling respectful, effective problem solving at home and in the workplace. When we argue in a courteous, logical and compelling manner, those of differing opinions can respect our points of view—even if they don’t agree.
When students don’t feel heard, it can be so damaging. Last year, our high school students asked for more counseling support, so we hired another counselor at UHS. Our kids need to know that their voices are important, that we care about what they have to say.
Our kids deserve an exceptional education that includes the teaching of hard work, collaboration, and persistence. Thank you, Senator McGuire, for engaging our students in this discussion and for modeling these ideals through your actions in our community during the last few months. You are one of the hidden treasures in our community.