Dr. Robin BuchlerSuperintendent

Over the past few weeks, our nation has responded to a public health crisis not seen in our lifetime. Everyone has had to step back and reevaluate how to move forward in a way that provides security and calmness in the face of adversity. You do not have to look far to see some amazing acts of kindness and support in our neighbors, friends, family, and strangers. There is such comfort in predictability and schedules, and this pandemic has wiped all of those away for the time being.

As we move into our remote learning with the help and support of many, I would like to thank parents who have been working so hard to guide their children through daily learning, as well as managing childcare, and doing their regular jobs. This is nearly an impossible task, one that you did not sign up for. We thank you for the stories you have shared, finding laughter when it may seem in short supply, and for modeling grit for your children, perseverance and an attitude that everything will work out just fine.

I would like to thank the students for finding a silver lining in these conditions. I have listened to songs on Facebook written by our students letting us all know, in their wisdom, that everything is going to be okay. I have witnessed students stepping up to help those in need. I have talked with many students who are working hard to continue to live a life as full as possible and bringing others along with them. Drive by birthday parties, a beautiful two-person prom, many posts on social media of things to try or learn. Thank you, students, for teaching us to put our best foot forward.

Our teachers, too, are working under similarly strained conditions with many taking care of their own children as they maintain academic continuity and forge a sense of connectedness for students. Our educators are stepping into a teaching world unfamiliar to most, using technology and teleconferencing tools to reach their students and maintain connection and care. This goes to show that our teachers, too, are modeling for our students those same traits of grit, adaptability, and resilience in the face of adversity.  And at the same time, our staff is finding the time to go above and beyond by collecting five carloads of PPE supplies to donate to our area hospitals, using 3D printers to make masks, helping families in need by providing clothing, encouragement, and food, and reaching out to our students who they knew would be struggling emotionally with what is happening in our world today.

Others who deserve mention for their critical roles are our support staff, many of whom are now working on the front lines to ensure students have access to healthy meals each day. As of April 21, 2020, our food service has provided over 15,238 meals to our students.

Another group I would like to thank are our technology crew who have prepared and distributed over 700 devices, and more than 370 hotspots so all our students have access to continue their learning.

I thank the administrators who are providing tremendous leadership to move remote learning forward, even when they cannot be in the same buildings with their students and staff. They, too, are parents who work around the clock to ensure their children are feeling safe, protected, and progressing, while at the same time, doing their best to take care of yours.

To our custodial staff who takes on the responsibility of deep cleaning our facilities so our students and staff are safe to return, a heartfelt thank you.

Lastly, to the Mattawan Board of Education, who fall into that parent group and, at the same time, are here for the students and staff at Mattawan, providing direction and support.

These are tough times when the stakes feel impossibly high, but our county has been through tough times before, and I have full confidence we will find our way through this storm. We will do so in the same way we have met other challenges, by embracing faith, science, and basic human kindness. For it is not enough to survive a crisis, we must also remember who we are as a people and who we aspire to be. History has shown us that even the most severe pandemics eventually end, but the values we build and share in our community unite us as a county, a state, and a nation. We will continue to endure. We will continue to care deeply for our students, staff, and families. On behalf of the Mattawan Board of Education and the teachers, staff, and administration, thank you for all that you do to support teaching and learning in our community, especially while our students cannot be together in their classrooms. This challenge will not beat us, but will make us stronger. I truly believe we will find a kinder world in the end.

Stay well!