Today ranks as one of the most difficult days of my education career. I know from talking to many of you that you feel the pain and sadness, too. I’m also feeling it as a dad.
My daughter Ainsley is a senior this year. This isn’t how her senior year should end. This isn’t how any child’s senior year should end. There are other celebration milestones in the future for all of our children no matter their age, and keeping them safe must take top priority. But there is no replacement for these important missed moments. The hurt is deep.
I know the pain is profound, too, for Oklahoma’s dedicated teaching force – and make no mistake, they are a force! They’ve fought long and hard to be a safe and loving presence in the lives of our children and to help them achieve success. It was touching to see so many “teacher parades” happening across the state today just so teachers could see their students, even from afar. Teachers cheered their students, and students cheered their teachers (see pictures above). And then there’s the support staff, many of whom are working hard to make sure children don’t go hungry.
For school board members and administrators, it’s an extraordinary privilege to see you lead with such heart, compassion and grace. The decisions you’re making right now are without precedent but not without pain. I hate that for you. Let’s just be honest: you didn’t know you were signing up for this.
Many of you have had more than your fair share of challenging days and even ones far more difficult than today. You’ve led your school communities through death and tragedy. But this is a level of collective sadness and heartbreak I hope we’ll never have to repeat.
Right now, some of you have questions I can’t yet answer, but please keep asking. I promise we’re seeking and searching for answers. And I hope you'll join us for a member call at 5 p.m. Friday to make sure you have the most up-to-date information. We'll send log-in information in a future email.
Stay safe and know that you are in my prayers. I’m so grateful our education community in Oklahoma is family, and we have each other to lean on.
Shawn Hime, Ph.D.