Dear Benicia Community,
I hope this communication finds everyone safe, sound, and looking forward to the Thanksgiving break and time with family and friends.
Gratitude, Thankfulness, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Thanksgiving was a pretty big deal in my house as I was growing up. Thinking back, most holidays seemed to be a big deal, probably because there were so many of us: six kids, various pets, including a dog or two, any number of cats coming and going, goldfish, canaries, box turtles…a veritable zoo.
The preparation of the meal was a concert of “expert” opinions, debates over timing, compliments to our mother regarding how beautiful the table setting looked, arguments over who would get to hold the wishbone, who would get first dibs at the turkey dish, etc.
Once the cacophony of preparation settled into relative calm and all eight of us sat down at the table, my father would say a prayer of thanksgiving then ask each of us to share what we were thankful for – and we were not allowed to pass. I guess in some ways this may sound corny but it always stayed with me and inspired me over the years to explore the effects of thankfulness and gratitude on one’s overall outlook.
Reading widely on the subject, there appears to be a transformative effect on the mind when we start and each day reflecting on what we are grateful for in our lives: the big things and the little things. With that in mind, I would like to encourage everyone in the Benicia Unified Community to give this a try over the break, if you do not already do so, thus allowing ourselves to experience the positive effects on our overall sense of well-being. Happy Thanksgiving!
Meeting the Needs of all Students: We continue to make progress with our ongoing efforts regarding equity and opportunity. The focus of this effort centers on building community and is intended to be inclusive, optimistic, and forward-looking. Part of this effort includes holding community forums. We held our first community forum on October 14th and had a wonderful turnout. The forum was collaboratively facilitated between BUSD administration and EPOCH Education.
We began by explaining why BUSD is engaging in our equity and opportunity work through looking at data, EdCode, California State Standards and Frameworks, and feedback from our stakeholders. We then reviewed how this need is being addressed through our Strategic Plan-LCAP goals and the professional learning that underscores all of the work.
Dr. Erikca Brown, our trainer from EPOCH Education, then shared information on compassionate dialogue using their RIR (recognize, interrupt & repair) protocol. All participants then engaged in a listening session with BUSD staff during small breakout room sessions.
Initial feedback centered on defining success for students and the themes that surfaced were:
- ensuring students are understood & loved by their teacher
- we know the whole child
- students see positive reflections of themselves
- students feel valued, respected, happy, and seen
- students are safe and supported academically, emotionally, and socially
Feedback from these sessions will be used by staff to continue to identify ways we can support all students and to inform our next steps. We appreciate everyone’s participation and look forward to our next community forum this spring.
Please see the linked presentations here:
Our next community forum is scheduled for March 22nd. More information will be forthcoming.
Additionally, we are hosting a parent speaker series this year. Please see the flyer linked below with information and links to registration.
Covid-19 Vaccine: We have received some inquiries regarding the Covid-19 vaccine for students. The Governor’s directive to the CDPH as of October 1 this year is linked HERE.
Looking Ahead: TK and New Student Enrollment begins on February 1st and the information on our webpage is linked for your convenience. New legislation passed that expands TK beginning next year. Students who turn 5 between September 2 and February 2 will be eligible to enroll in TK. Watch for information about a community informational forum this winter that will provide more information about the program here in Benicia.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!
On we go!
Charles F. Young, Ed.D.