Dear Partners,

We have work to do!

I find myself vacillating between the joy of spring and the pleasure of an almost normal daily routine, compared to our Covid-full-lock-down existence last year at this time.  Things are getting better.  But then I swing in the total opposite direction after reading the paper or checking in on social media – our young people are in trouble.

Last week, I was moved by Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small short video sharing her concerns about the increase in youth violence.  She shared some data, and one stood out for me – since September, 6 students have died as a result of gun violence.  Six!  Her message was poignant, direct and plain.  The violence has to stop.  I was moved and saddened.

Also last week, I learned of the youngest son of a family friend was murdered in Rochester.  He was 25; older, but still a child in many respects.  More sadness.  I’m thinking of all the young men (and women) I’ve known over the years that have succumbed to violence, either as victim or perpetrator.  There are many, even within my own family that have not made it to adulthood or have made it with scars that they will carry for life.

Our young people are dealing with a time that is like no other; what they’ve been through in the past year none of us has ever dealt with.  Our old tools and ways of doing things in silos will not work.  Nor will sticking our head in the sand and waiting for it to pass.

Dr. Myers-Small’s plea to the community is simple – this is all hands-on-deck time! Principals, and teachers, faith leaders and congregants; business owners and their customers. Parents and family members. Health care and human services providers.

We must all do what we can to better understand and support the developmental needs of our children, across the entire cradle-to-career (really, prenatal to career) continuum. How we show up for them in class, in zooms, in our homes and in the community is critical. We should all take the time to search for better ways to support them, to listen to them and to love them. I try to do this everywhere…but it’s not about me – it’s about us. Check out our website for our Learning Loss infographics for more information on what we, each of us, can do now.

And continue to check back as we identify our collective work to build and rebuild, so that our children know and believe that we’re doing the work now to build better for their future.

But not only that! We want to show our children that it’s not just about what we want for their futures, it’s about what we want for them right now!

Everyone. Together. It really is the only way to do it, to move forward. I believe we can and will do better. Together.

For the Children,

Eldress Campbell