Superintendent

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Dr. Matt Baker
Superintendent
matt.baker@wv.kyschools.us

Needless to say, 2020 has proven to be year like none other. As a former history teacher, there are many dates associated with significant events that resonate not only with me, but with every American. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963 and of course the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001 all hold special meaning for us all. For me, one of the most important days of my professional career was March 11th, 2020. This is the day when all Northern Kentucky Superintendents met with Dr. Lynn Sadler the Director of the Northern Kentucky Health Department. At this meeting Dr. Sadler informed us that the World Health Organization (WHO) had formally declared a global pandemic and that the world as we knew it was about to change. At that time, I could not have imagined how true Dr. Sadler’s words would prove to be.

In the weeks and months since the WHO declared the pandemic, all of our lives have changed dramatically. Every aspect of our daily lives have been impacted by the virus in some way. Normal tasks such as going to the grocery store or going to school have become events that we now view quite differently as we must take the necessary precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus. As we approach the holiday season families must now make difficult decisions to balance the desire for the traditional family gatherings that take place during this time of the year with the need to act responsibly and protect our loved ones from potential exposure to the virus. Certainly at no time in my life has this country faced so many challenges for a sustained period of time.

School districts have been especially challenged during this unprecedented time. We have been given guidelines and recommendations from medical and public health professionals on how to prevent transmission of the virus. While these guidelines and recommendations are certainly well-intended, I cannot help but wonder; How many of the individuals giving these recommendations have ever taught in a public school? At times, I have felt as if we have all been given a series of impossible tasks by well-meaning individuals who are experts in medicine, virology, and public health; but who are certainly not experts in teaching or leading public schools. Nevertheless, I am proud of our work so far this year to meet these recommendations.  While we have not been able to conduct in-person instruction nearly as often as we would like, we have been successful at conducting in-person instruction for 9 weeks so far this school year. Now that multiple vaccines are nearing the approval process, I am optimistic that at the very least this school year will end much better than it began.

While the pandemic has presented us with challenges, I would also like to point out that it has presented us with unique opportunities. For many years there was a desire by our staff and our parents to increase the amount of technology utilized by our students.  The new funding made available to us by the CARES Act has enabled us to make this a reality for our students. Similarly, our instructional staff has learned to utilize this technology more effectively and efficiently than ever before. This, in particular, is something that I am very proud of this year. The professional growth that has taken place this year in our district far outpaces anything I have ever experienced before during my entire career. In addition to our recent advances with technology, I believe that we have also been highly successful at supporting our community. Throughout this pandemic, we have gone the extra mile to provide meals to the children of our community. I also believe that many parents and community members have an increased appreciation for teachers and schools. I am hopeful that the positive perception of our profession will continue long after the pandemic ends. School districts, in many cases, are the foundation of their communities, and we have certainly demonstrated that this school year.

In closing, while this global event has certainly presented us with challenges that we never anticipated, it has also granted us unexpected opportunities. I firmly believe that after this pandemic ends and we can look back on the events of the past few months with a little more perspective, we will appreciate that while it has certainly been difficult at times, we have also taken advantage of the opportunities it has presented. As a result, our school district and indeed our entire profession is far better at educating students and serving our communities than ever before.
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