Gratitude for Our Work

by Pleasantview Elementary Principal Aby Froiland

The beginning of May, means the start of the end of the school. As I look back on the 2020–2021 school year, I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the collective work of staff, students, families and the entire Sauk Rapids-Rice community. It has been humbling to be part of a community that pulls together to make the best out of a challenging situation.

First off, my gratitude goes out to the staff. Staff whose jobs have been significantly added to. Regardless of the extra tasks and responsibilities, staff have rolled up their sleeves and worked to create opportunities for students. I witness teachers daily teaching an extra class, changing their plans to include learners that are now at home, learning a new app feature, troubleshooting Zoom, problem solving with students not on their caseloads, collaborating in between subbing and teaching and reflecting on how to be better the next time. I witness paraprofessionals supervising an extra lunch or recess, having their schedules changed at the last minute, being creative with assigned recess spaces, building relationships through Zoom, supporting students on learning platforms they have just learned. Custodians coming in early, leaving late, disinfecting and sanitizing multiple times a day. Food Service staff pushing carts of food through the halls, building and tearing down serving stations throughout the schools. Office staff contact tracing through the weekend, organizing materials for pick up, communicating changes, building schedules, arranging coverage and connecting people to solve problems. Our school nurses reach out to every close contact, staying up-to-date on the latest recommendations, contact tracing every day. 

Secondly, my gratitude goes out to the students and their families. The ability of the students to go with the flow and come with a good attitude everyday has been inspiring. We have been so impressed with their ability to adapt to changes in daily schedules, expectations, restrictions, learning models. School and extracurricular activities have looked significantly different this year. Yet, our students are showing up, wearing a mask, sitting in assigned areas, supporting teams online, following guidelines to keep everyone safe. All this, while dealing with swings in the composition of their classes and social circles. In a single day, their class may change from all in-person to half or more online. Yet, they go with it. Without missing a beat, they create a Zoom or Google document and begin collaborating online. It’s just remarkable. Families, if you have not taken time to reflect on the work you are doing to support these students in-person and online, please do. You have been incredible. You have called in, helped us contact trace, supported us at home, encouraged us to be in-person, advocated for opportunities, followed guidelines and fostered grit in your child(ren). 

Finally, my gratitude goes out to the communities of Sauk Rapids and Rice. Our communities continue to build partnerships that support and create opportunities for our students. Just this past week, a number of businesses reached out to the schools to show their support. Our PTAs, PTACs, Green and Gold Club and Storm Graduate clubs continue to be supported by businesses. Furthermore, on the Pleasantview site, we have a number of local businesses and contractors that are taking part in building a new elementary school. I am thankful for the learning opportunity the Pleasantview Building Project presents for students and staff, and appreciate that the contractors and builders are able to connect with them to answer questions, share their experiences and update the progress of the facility. Thank you for creating a community that pulls together to create silver linings throughout a really tough school year.