By Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D.
As I write this week, I’m surrounded by “to-do” lists: Professional, personal, pre-Christmas, travel, and others. It’s the way that I organize my life, with actual, physical “to-do” lists on yellow legal pads. Yes, it’s old school but it works for me.
I’m also surrounded by my boys, as we watch the World Cup. I did not grow up watching soccer or being interested in soccer. I’ve morphed into a soccer fan because Brendan and Patrick played, at times competitively, in travel soccer leagues. Given their interest in soccer, that becomes my interest in soccer.
In East Greenwich we are on the verge of the holiday recess. Including weekends, it’s 10 days away from our work together in education. A well deserved break, time carved out for rest, relaxation, and time to recharge. I shared a graphic with our staff this week, which indicated that our employees are “always on” when it comes to education:
It’s time for a break. By the time Friday, Dec. 23, is checked off the calendar, we will have had 74 days with our learners, with 106 days left on the other side of this time off. All of our employees, regardless of their role, have dealt with the emotions of education since our first day of school in August. We’ve felt every high, been touched deeply by every low, and met every feeling in between. That’s not isolated to our teachers. It’s felt by every individual who is in a building, and it radiates to all of us who work outside of the six buildings in EG, through district level work.
It’s felt by our Technology Department, which has kept all six buildings running smoothly with consistent internet access. It’s felt by our Facilities Department, which has responded promptly and efficiently to the needs of the aging infrastructure in need of upgrades. No one calls either of these departments to thank them for things running as expected. Much like our town departments, they only get called when things go wrong.
It is time for a break. It’s time to put our families first. It’s time to surround ourselves with people that know us best, who support the work we do on a daily basis, on behalf of someone else’s children. It’s time to put our own families first.
These weeks between Thanksgiving and the Winter Holiday Recess are some of the most challenging in education. They’re full of anticipation and stress, regardless of our age. They remind us that families are imperfect, and that this time of year reminds us of those who no longer gather around our holiday tables. Plus for those for whom family is not “Normal Rockwell-esque,” it’s additional pressure.
So with gratitude for all of the employees of East Greenwich Public Schools, I hope that this week is something that you can make for yourselves. That is can be full of self-care, and that you are surrounded by those who are important to you. I know that’s how I hope to spend these days.
When the “to-do” lists are crossed off, or done at some level, I hope that this time can remind us of who we are as people. Not employees of the best public school district in the state of Rhode Island. But mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family members. That is our most important role. What we do in education is critical; but who we are as people comes first.
Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D., is the superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools.