A new school year begins
As the 2017-2018 school year begins and I start my 32nd year in education, an old saying comes to mind: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Of course, there is always the excitement of starting a new school year, with countless opportunities for learning, academic achievement, friendships, personal growth and success in and out of the classroom. Not to mention the chances for a little failure, from which we also learn valuable life lessons.
There are also the many challenges that affect our daily work, most of which are frustratingly beyond our control.
Always at the top of that list are state and national politics and education funding. Then there are the many social “hot button” issues that cross over into our schools and classrooms, not to mention “routine” work like capital projects, hiring and training new staff, welcoming hundreds of new students, etc.
However, one thing that has never changed in District 202, is the generosity of the community that we serve.
As most of our families know, District 202 went through a period of tremendous growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s. That growth not only changed our size (from about 3,500 students to nearly 30,000 – we stand this year at about 28,000), but it also changed our demographics and socioeconomics.
Many families moved to District 202 during the heavy growth period on the slimmest of financial margins.
Like everyone, they wanted their piece of the “American Dream” – an affordable house, low taxes, good schools, low crime – and took advantage of unique economic conditions that, in many cases, made it difficult to sustain their homes when work dried up.
Then, in 2008, the recession hit our area – and our families -- very hard.
Thousands of parents and guardians lost their jobs and even their homes, yet their children are still in our schools. Those students have the same rights and opportunities as every other student, but sadly, not the same resources.
So District 202 worked behind the scenes to create special relationships with our community’s private support agencies, churches, businesses and service organizations like the United Way of Will County, the YMCA, and the Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.
Likewise, every year, we gratefully accept many private donations of school supplies, food, clothing and cash to help families in crisis.
None of these organizations, stores, agencies or private citizens give these gifts because they’re looking for recognition. Rather, they do it for the purest of reasons – to make sure all of our students have what they need to do their best in school.
This kind of kindness and generosity may seem small in the “big picture,” but it is immensely important to those families who struggle to give their children what other children get easily.
In the end, we all want to help our children succeed so that they can help shape and create a positive future for all of us. District teachers and staff do their part in our classrooms and schools. Families do their part at home.
I am proud (and thankful) that the District 202 community does its part as well.
Together, we will continue to prepare learners for the future
Have a great 2017-18 school year.
Dr. Lane Abrell
Superintendent of Schools
Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202