December 11, 2009
Dear Oyster-Adams Community:
This week, I was browsing
through the books at our wonderful Book Fair when a little book, Children Learn
what they Live by Dorothy Law Nolte, caught my eye. I flipped through it knowing that as a
parent, I can always use inspirational reminders to be the best role model for
my own children.
Leafing through the pages helped
me reflect on the power we hold as adults in our children's worlds-both at
school and at home. I thought specifically about the wonderful role models the
Oyster-Adams students have in our collective parent body.
What might they learn from
you? They will learn about hard work and
volunteering (look at all of the volunteers we have had to manage the book fair
and to sell holiday trees), helping others (students
are collecting books and DVDs for sick children), the power of community,
passion for bilingualism and multiculturalism and strong advocacy for what you
Sadly, however, I also have
to think of some of the more negative examples that some of our parents have
modeled for our children this year.
Faculty, parents and students have witnessed parents yelling at security
officers because they want to park in the turn-around at Oyster during morning
drop off. I have been forwarded hurtful and insulting emails that were sent to
teachers and staff. It pains me to say we've had parents yell at, insult, and
humiliate a variety of personnel in phone conversations, conferences and in
What might this teach our
students? Is respecting others negotiable?
Are disagreements justifcation for yelling and insults?
The book highlights how our
parenting styles, our communications and our actions all teach our students
values. The book has numerous examples,
including the first which is "If children live with criticism, they learn to
All of us adults have the
responsibility to live by the Oyster-Adams Community Actions: Act with Integrity, Live Graciously, Lead by
Example and Think Globally. None of us
is perfect. As a staff, we have difficult
conversations about where we may have shown poor judgement in our actions or in
our communications, and we learn from these.
Our staff is even formally evaluated on their customer service and
professionalism. Personally, I am humbled everyday by the enormous effort it
takes to communicate effectively and efficiently with the school's stakeholders
on the topics that are important to them.
I have been successful at times and other times I have failed.
I ask you to think about the
enormous impact a hurtful email or a rude communication has on the teachers and
staff in our community. You have high
expectations of us, as well you should, and everyone is working incredibly hard
to meet our goals and to serve our students best. Our teachers and staff -especailly the new
ones- need and deserve your support to grow and learn from experience. It is in
all of our interests that they want to make Oyster-Adams their long-term
We all have had moments where
we are not proud of our demeanor and where our passion may have taken over our
ability to "Live Graciously." Here are some ways to avoid the pitfalls of disrespectful
If you have a
concern with something at school or in the classroom, approach the teacher or
staff member with the intent to clarify and do not make accusations or
assumptions without getting the other perspective first.
Email is dangerous
and often misinterpreted. While
convenient, we are now a society that relies on quick emails that communicate
our current emotion. They are often less
thoughtful and don't allow for the reading of body language or facial
expressions. If it's a delicate matter, please ask for a meeting.
Finally, if you're thinking that you may have been
less than gracious at some point this year, apologies are always welcome and
help build stronger relationships moving forward.
Thank you for working
together to create a safe and caring learning environment for everyone-children
and adults alike.
Enjoy the weekend with your
--Monica Liang Aguirre