December Column

As superintendent, I thoroughly enjoy visiting each of our schools in the district. This is when I see first hand the accomplishments of our students and the professionalism of our staff.

During my visits in November and December, I noticed something else going on in our schools: the spirit of giving. A can drive to help the Elks Club fill food baskets, Toys for Tots, Beggin for Bones, students making blankets for a homeless shelter, and a variety of other activities have been taking place to help those in need.

The spirit of giving has its unofficial kickoff each year with the Empty Bowls event done under the direction of our art teachers. This year, Empty Bowls raised more than $5,000 to help Gleaners Food Bank, Heifer International, Capuchin Soup Kitchen and the Elks Club of Dearborn.

Along with standing traditions such as Empty Bowls, new activities and events are also occurring throughout the district. Students enrolled in the new Dearborn Magnet High School program spent a day serving lunch to senior citizens at St. Christine’s Soup Kitchen. Others unloaded six semi-trucks of donated items and helped distribute them to families in need.

These projects go beyond community service; they also deliver lasting learning experiences. After their day of helping others, the students from the Magnet program were heard saying that Thanksgiving would have a completely different meaning for them now that they had the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

The hours of donated time and effort are not limited to any one age group or school. The Dearborn PTSA asked all students to write letters that would be sent to the 800 Michigan men and women serving our country in the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 1,200 letters were presented to the Michigan National Guard and will be sent to those stationed overseas.

Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Michael accepted the letters from two Henry Ford Elementary students. He told those gathered for the presentation that he had served in Iraq. He explained how much a letter from home means to a soldier during this time of year. The room went silent, and a few wiped a tear, as this strong man in uniform paused to collect his thoughts and swallow hard before continuing with his comments. Although he spoke the words “thank you” he didn’t need to say a thing, the expression on his face and his body language expressed his gratitude beyond what any spoken word could say.

These are our students, but more important, they are your children. They are taking an active roll in helping our community and making a difference in the lives of others. I know each and every parent must be very proud of their child, I know I am proud to be able to say they are our students.

No matter what holiday you celebrate, this is truly the season of caring, the season of giving. I see this in our schools and in our community. I am thankful for being given the opportunity to be the superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools. It is an honor. I wish all of our staff, students, parents, and community members a most joyous holiday season.