As we begin another school year, I want to welcome our students, their families and our dedicated faculty and staff. Together we are working to create an environment that inspires learning and promotes growth. We are proud of the work that we have done and look forward to the progress we will continue to make. Our students are fortunate to go to school in a district that incorporates academics with an opportunity to experience diversity in a community that embraces people from all walks of life.

Despite our unique challenges as a district, we can’t ignore the state of the world and the challenges that our country is facing. As we watch the news, read the papers, and scroll through social media sites, we are bombarded with hate, intolerance and a general dialogue that are damaging the fabric of our nationwide community and sending a dangerous message to our students. We need to focus on these issues in a way that contributes to raising healthy students who strive not only to progress in their own interests, but also in the interests of a better world. Current events that have occurred abroad and on our own soil most certainly cause us to pause and wonder what we can do to protect our children from the violent, negative and destructive actions that they are witnessing.

Here in the Danbury school district we embrace not only diversity, but also differences. We believe in fostering an open dialogue and providing an academic environment where students are free to respectfully discuss and question issues. Respect for all, regardless of the color of skin, religion, sexual orientation, economic circumstances, cultural background, politics or personal beliefs are what we expect from our students, faculty, staff and families. We need to teach respect and we need to show respect, for everyone. That said, it is my hope that our staff will be discussing these issues in the appropriate forums and grade levels and demonstrating to students that we do not shout at and ridicule others for their opinions. As educators, we assume the responsibility of showing students how to explore answers to their questions and make the best choices as how to express their opinions and feelings. We are all equal and there will be no tolerance for hatred and bullying.

The world will someday belong to our children, and it is our job to ensure that they are prepared for the responsibilities that lie ahead. Two years ago, we started a very important conversation with our students: that being compassionate to your neighbor, saying no to bullying, and being a friend when someone was alone were ways they could impact the world in a positive way. We have to continue that conversation.

I encourage all of us to be enlightened because our students represent hope. They already see the value in compassion and caring, and we have the knowledge and energy to continue helping them find their light – the light they will use to heal the world and make it a kinder, more caring place.

Dr. Sal