The letter below was sent to P-H-M families and staff on Monday, January 11, 2021.
Dear P-H-M Families,
I spent the weekend reflecting on the unimaginable events that took place at our nation’s Capitol Building last week. My mind and heart are still reeling from those shocking images.
Wednesday, January 6, 2021 is forever etched in all of our minds along with 9-11, the Columbine Shooting, Sandy Hook, all school shootings, the Oklahoma City Bombing, this past summer’s civil unrest after the death of George Floyd, and for those of us who grew up during the Civil Rights and Vietnam protest era … the Kent State shootings and the March to Selma.
As technology has evolved, the modern era’s historical--and sometimes horrific--images have played out live on televisions, as in the case of 9-11. And as with the summer 2020 demonstrations and now the attack of our U.S. Capitol, video and pictures were also streamed on our students’ Chromebooks and cell phone screens. If we as adults are dismayed by the events of last week, just think how our students feel! Unfortunately, too many of them watched a sad, dark moment of our nation’s history play out live.
It is our role as adults, parents, and educators to now turn to helping our children understand the circumstances that lead up to January 6th. A task that becomes more difficult for students to process when the events are still playing out in real time.
It is our job as educators to teach our children all sides of American history, outlining how our struggles led to the establishment and continuous formation of the world's finest democratic society--a democracy that over time has provided freedom for all.
It is our responsibility to model civility and respect for one another. There should always be space for thoughtful exchanges of opinions. How do we express and protect one of our most precious rights as Americans, the freedom of expression, without it turning into oppression of others? In the realm of freedom of speech, violence has no place! The study of democracy, U.S. government, and the Constitution are important now more than ever.
As a society, we need to find a way to re-engage in conversations without causing shame, harm and pain. We should practice this in our homes, classrooms and halls of government. It is through these discussions that we grow as people, a community and a nation. We must model and prepare our students to become tomorrow’s citizens and leaders.
To help facilitate discussions at home with your children, we have prepared some resources. These can be found on the Social Emotional Learning section of our website. Please click here to access the “Tips for Talking & Social Unrest” resource sheet. We have also shared similar tools and resources with our teachers.
In maintaining P-H-M’s Triangle of Success, we value our partnership with families to help your students grow into responsible, contributing members of society.
Dr. Jerry Thacker
Superintendent of Schools