First and foremost, staff in the district are grateful to parents and guardians for supporting the students who attend PORTA, because education is not, nor has it ever been, a one-person job. When students come to school ready to learn, it’s because they’ve been sent that way from home. That can be hard to do, especially in this modern world, when parents/guardians may be doing it alone, doing it working multiple jobs, or doing it while building a career or a marriage. Honestly, just parenting, with no other issues plaguing us can be a challenge. So many of our PORTA students come to school ready to learn, and a foundational aspect of that is the preparation at home. Thank you to all the parents and guardians this Thanksgiving season.
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t express gratitude to the teaching staff. In addition to teaching every student, every school day, they spend time outside of the school day planning lessons, grading papers, pursuing professional development, coaching and/or sponsoring an extra-curricular or an enrichment activity, and many of them fall into the category of parent/guardian as well. They serve not only as educators, but often as mentors for students who need some additional adult guidance or role model. They help students in need, whether it be a student who needs glasses, but may be struggling to afford them or a student who is in crisis and needs professional support. Teachers often help students make connections between services they and their families may not know are available, one of the many tasks they do that isn’t in the “job description” but is a part of doing the job well. .
The PORTA support services--bus drivers, cafeteria workers, speech pathologists, social workers, custodians, and office staff--also deserve our gratitude during this season. These are the folks who make sure everything runs smoothly so the teachers can do their job of teaching. Having a neat classroom to do it in, having kids safely bussed in so they can attend school, helping students who have physical or emotional issues, offering students nutritious meals, and doing all the paperwork that needs to be done to keep a school functioning are tasks most of us assume happen magically. These are the magicians who get it done, and PORTA does its job as well as it does because of the foundation the support staff builds.
Our administration, building principals, superintendent, athletic director, and school board play key roles in the district climate and direction. They are the liaisons between the state statutes and mandates and the work we do on a daily basis educating children. When a building runs well, teachers and staff can comfortably go about their business without worrying about the minutiae that are an everyday part of an administrator's life. Compliance documents, changes in the school code, the latest news on funding and budgets are all vitally necessary parts of education. Administration not only make sure PORTA stays on top of those changes, they make sure PORTA staff know what’s going on and how it will affect them. Those of us who have worked in a district in which this doesn’t happen know how important it is to be in a district in which it does.
And finally, how could we not give a sincere thanks to the community which supports the schools? Each of elements of PORTA--Petersburg, Oakford, Rock Creek, Talulla and Atterberry, and all the countryside in-between--never fails to support the schools when asked. From buying puffins for History Club to support Honor Flights to donating time or expertise when PORTA Elementary and/or Central puts on a Family Fun Night, our community steps forward to support the students by supporting the district.
We all know the efforts put forth to support education at PORTA are targeted at students. And, when we stop to think about what that means, we must acknowledge that means we are all thinking toward the future. How grateful we are to live and/or work in a community that believes the future is so important. How important that we take the time this Thanksgiving Season to remember it.