Dear LBUSD Team,
I am almost at a loss for words to express the appreciation and gratitude I feel for all of the ways you have shown up for our students and one another over the past 10 months. This is an extraordinary year that none of us will forget and that we’ll be glad to see in the rearview mirror. While the pandemic is surging in our community, I can’t help but think of how many of you have friends, partners and relatives working on the frontlines in hospitals, trying to care for the sick as we all head into the holidays. I also know that many of you have experienced the loss of loved ones and suffered illness yourselves. I hold all of you closely in my thoughts during this difficult time.
During 28 years of working for LBUSD, the organizational culture that pervades every inch of our district has always impressed me. However, there has never been a time like 2020 when that culture mattered more. Our organization thrives on collaboration, teamwork, innovation, persistence, tenacity and courage. Over time, we have built an organization where all voices matter and where we continually uplift our students in stronger and bolder ways. We have dipped our toes into conversations about race, racism and implicit bias as we strive for excellence and equity. We have been able to “be” who we are because of this culture. During 2020, I am beyond thankful for who we are.
In November I published an article in School Administrator about “The Act of Becoming.” The article discussed transitioning jobs during a pandemic. Writing provided an opportunity to reflect and share the idea that every one of us has an opportunity to “become” better versions of ourselves if we want to. The article describes my experience back in April, when I was appointed as superintendent. Back then, I closed my first remarks as newly selected superintendent with, “The best is yet to be,” an acknowledgement that healthy organizations that go through a transition should naturally consider what they want to become in the future. Today I want to offer that same encouragement to all of you as you head out for winter break and we prepare to turn the calendar page to 2021.
I look forward to continuing our reimagining of LBUSD together, and to welcoming our students back into school buildings where the magic happens. I look forward to delving into deeper conversations about race and equity. Our public schools, more than any other institution, can be our nation’s most potent antidote against ignorance, fear and prejudice. I look forward to seeing the amazing work of our school leaders, teachers, support staff and business partners in 2021. It’s OK to glance briefly at that rearview mirror. But I know we’re all keeping our eyes on better roads ahead.
I wish you rest, restoration and happy holiday celebrations.
With deep appreciation,
Jill Baker, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools