Sunday Message 3/29/20

I send a weekly Sunday Message out to my folks in CTE, and I thought I would share this week’s message with everyone. Thank you for what you are about to do! It’s a beautiful thing!

Dear CTE Staffulty,

As we embark on a transformational journey tomorrow, I felt the need to say a special thank you to our teachers and instructors. I may not have shared this before, but I am a student of war-not so much war, but more a student of the soldiers who fight the wars. Maybe it’s because I grew up in that world with my father, who served for 31 years during World War II, the Korean Conflict and Viet Nam or maybe it’s because I was unable to serve, which was my plan up through my senior year, when I found out I had a medical issue that made me exempt. Whatever the reason, I have studied about soldiers since my youngest days when I first drew a Roman soldier for a project in second grade. I have read literally dozens of books over the years, seen just about every “war” movie ever made and while I am no expert, I do know this, that at the end of the day, it is the soldier on the frontline, the one who stands face to face with whatever is before them, who I admire the most in times war.

And so it will be this week! As all of us throughout the organization have pulled together to do our part-leaders have led and served and support staff have done all they can do to make us ready-one truth cannot be denied, tomorrow when the figurative bullets start to fly, it will be our teachers and instructors who will be on the frontline ensuring that learning for our students in CTE programs continue. They have been dealing with new software and apps that they had one week or less to learn, using systems that may or may not work once the full load hits the internet, trying to figure out how to teach hands-on courses on-line, facing obstacles, and countless shifts in momentum from every direction while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for students in an abnormal world. I could not be more proud of our front-line soldiers than I have been, this past week. Seeing Facebook posts of teachers using ZOOM or Web-Ex or Microsoft Teams or whatever system they have chosen; hearing about them loading stuff on Canvas and seeking out and finding program specific tools out there that will help our students maintain momentum; hearing and witnessing first hand, collaboration at the highest level and knowing that students have been contacted and made aware of what will be the new norm and what those expectations will be, has been uplifting for me during this otherwise difficult time for all. There has been a singlemindedness of purpose for those serving on the frontline-to keep the momentum going despite the overwhelming odds. We will overcome in this moment, because our frontline soldiers are an incredible “fighting machine,” who do not see the impossible, but rather the possible.

For the rest of us, we have one mission now, to give those teachers and instructors our very best. We must ensure that they have the “supplies and equipment” they need to do their job. We are the support mechanism that will allow them to focus on the battle they now face. We will be nameless and faceless to them, but they must know that we are there when the “bullets start to fly.” We have one priority in the days and weeks ahead, to give them what they need to succeed. In battle, the one thing that keeps soldiers going is knowing that no matter what happens, they will not be left behind, that the helicopters will keep coming to give them the support they need to do their job and to bring them home when the battle has been won. We must be those helicopters, and we must keep coming. At the end of the day, this battle will be won on the frontline by our teachers and instructors, but it will be those behind the scenes who give them the ability to win. We cannot let them down in this moment. We must all shine, all the time for the foreseeable future. I appreciate all the members of our CTE family, and make no mistake, this is a total team mission and will take all of us, but for this week, I send a special thank you out to our teachers and instructors, knowing that it is you who will carry the brunt of the burden moving forward starting tomorrow and into the foreseeable future. You are incredible. Have a great CTE week Changing Lives Through Education!

PS-I still have my little book and this is the Roman soldier I attempted to draw in 2nd grade-that drawing is long gone, but the book-one of my first-is still on my book shelf at home. Ride into this week like this Roman rode into Britain and we will rock the world!