Each year communities welcome the holiday season. The time from Thanksgiving through the New Year allows for people to appreciate all that has happened over the last twelve months. They bring traditions and connections for families, schools, and friends. This year is obviously different. We have been saying that for nine months. Last week, I was reminded that, despite the challenges we face, we should always be looking for the silver lining.
Lori Percell is an educational aide in our elementary school. For years, Lori had worked in our elementary school library, a role she was comfortable in and thoroughly enjoyed. Last spring, school districts across the state of Ohio had their state budgets reduced, and Fairbanks was no exception. As a district, we experienced a 6% reduction in state funding. This forced the school district to look for ways to reduce expenditures. We had an aide leave a position and I made the decision to not refill that position. That decision meant a shift in roles and responsibilities for our staff.
That is where Lori comes in. I had several conversations with Lori and ultimately shifted her role within the district. She had questions about the new position. There was reluctance to move, but she was willing to do it to help our schools and students. From my perspective, Lori had a skill set and disposition that would help our elementary school.
Last week, Lori stopped me in the elementary school cafeteria. She told me about how apprehensive she was to move. She also said how she was not happy with the move, but entered the school year with an open mind. Then Lori thanked me. She shared how much she enjoyed connecting with “her kids” and supporting their growth as people. During my improto visit, she introduced me to one of her kids who grew thirty points on his I-Ready reading diagnostic. She was so proud. This small visit made my day and I am so happy for Lori.
This conversation reminded me about the silver lining. Lori could have chosen a very different attitude and approach, but she chose to find the silver lining, eventually leading to strong relationships with the students she serves. My hope is we all look for the silver lining. Entering the next few weeks, there will be opportunities to find them. Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season! Continue to look for the silver linings!
- Adham Schirg, Fairbanks Local Schools, Superintendent