By Deanna Mayer, CPA, CFO, MSBO Board President, Director of Finance and Human Resources, Eastern Upper Peninsula ISD
Michigan schools are facing more challenges than ever before… On top of the struggles to maintain normalcy during the past two years of this pandemic, comes the tragedy at Oxford High School.
MSBO released a joint statement with other state education associations including MASA, MASB, MAISA, MASSP, MEMPSA, MCEA, MEA and AFT Michigan to let our members know we are here to support you. I think it is important to share that memo as a reminder of our role in supporting you.
Joint Statement of Support Memo
“In light of the recent tragedy in Oxford and the ever-growing copy-cat threats, the professional organizations supporting Michigan’s teachers, education support professionals, district and building administrators, and school boards are here to support you in any way possible.
‘That includes standing together against these threats and working with law enforcement to ensure that our students and employees are safe in our schools. We must take threats to safety seriously and work to return our children to classrooms with security as a paramount priority.
‘We know that students and educators across the state continue to be subject to stress and ongoing trauma as we hear of more and more threats to schools and subsequent building closures. It is imperative that our education communities continue to work together as one to address these issues, including the mental health and well-being of students and staff so that they can return to the classroom with a focus on teaching and learning, not fear.
‘As we navigate these tragic events together, please don’t lose sight of your own well-being. We know that your focus is always on those you serve, but you matter too. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your colleagues and our organizations for support, guidance, and a safe place to share. We are here for you and appreciate the resiliency that you continue to show during these challenging times.”
In the Eastern Upper Peninsula, many of us work with several districts and our districts find ways to support each other whenever possible. As business officials, our ultimate goal is to keep our school leader off the front page of the paper and ensure that the operations of the school run smoothly through their direction. It is in times of crisis that we need to make sure that our work behind the scenes is done to the best of our abilities. It is during moments like these that we need to make sure we are supportive and do all we can to ensure our schools continue to run smoothly.
I encourage all of us to reach out to our administrators and talk to them. Set time aside to ensure that everyone working with you is OK. This has been a long couple of years. The tragedy at Oxford has compounded these hardships. This tragedy affects us all. Check on your people. Check on your administrators. Don’t be afraid to help ease the burden while maintaining your own personal well-being. And, if you need to, don’t be afraid to ask for help. MSBO is here to provide help. We are a team. We take care of each other.
Many of you reading this column do not interact directly with students on a daily basis; however, we are here to support those that do. Through this tragedy, we need to find ways to continue to support each other. We are “family.” I have always liked this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” As we continue to find ways to support each other through this pandemic and now this tragedy, let’s remember the spirit of the season and carry it into the new year.