By Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D.
During the Winter Recess vacation for our East Greenwich Public Schools students, faculty, and families, I learned of two teenage children who passed away. The first young person passed away early in the week, and the second one passed away closer to this weekend. Both left me stunned. While I did not know the first young person who passed away, I knew their family. The second young person I coached while living in Vermont.
As the dad of two young men, my heart aches. Children are supposed to outlive their parents. I certainly expect our two to do so. These two deaths shook me up.
As is often the case with life events like this, I have taken the time to reflect, recenter, and refocus my priorities, not only as a father, but also as a superintendent. Before anything else in East Greenwich Public Schools, we want all of our students to feel safe, welcomed, and included. Before anything else.
It is our relationships with our students that will make the difference in their lives and nothing is more important than that. We want all our students to have a trusted adult that they can turn to in times of need. We want all our students to have a champion, who sees their potential, advocates on their behalf, and lifts them up when they are struggling. We want all our students to feel seen exactly the way they are when they come into our building.
This is our work as educators, to cultivate, build, nurture, and maintain relationships with our students. And when I say educators, I mean every single employee who crosses paths with our students. No matter if they work in food service or facilities, whether they are an administrative assistant or an assistant coach, a para-educator or a principal, whether they in our technology department or a teacher. I always want our students to know there is someone in our schools who is there for them.
The quote above from Dr. Brad Johnson is framed and on a table just to the right of the doorway when you leave my office. It is incredibly meaningful to me because it defines all the wonderful people who have crossed my educational path in my life. I look at it every time I leave, and I want it to be a reality for every single student in East Greenwich Public Schools.
Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D., is the superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools.