The journey back to normal

Posted on October 20, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun

By Socorro Shiels | SVUSD Superintendent

Like so many Sonoma County residents, a year after the fire I am still on my journey back to normal.  Watching it all happen and being evacuated from my home, every time I drive through the Valley I sigh a bit as I take in the view of the charred and the green. I am still processing it all.

staff-bio-shielsWhat got me through all those emotions of fear then, and those that creep up now, is my hope in and dedication to our community. Like you, I witnessed neighbors helping neighbors and strangers supporting strangers when it got rough. I literally saw what happens when we recognize our collective interests. There is an incredible optimism and confidence when we understand that we are stronger together than we are alone. Accordingly, this belief in community is not only what drives me professionally but also personally.

Professionally, it is the belief in the common good as a whole that fuels me. It is the anchor of public education, that our society is stronger, healthier and safer when we are all educated and thriving. We serve current students and parents, and our commitment is not only to them but also reaches beyond.  Our professional commitment is to every member of this community that we will reach, teaching the future generation. Each classrooms is part of the success story, and every professional is working diligently to pay it forward, to educate and touch the future of the Valley.

What amazes me in these first couple of months is the level of dedication I have witnessed in our professionals. From the mural work or Stars of Hope at Dunbar, to the sense of togetherness at Flowery during the Salsa extravaganza, or at the HOST day at Altimira making sure our new sixth graders have the secrets to school success — at every campus you will find a team of committed folks working tirelessly day after day to elevate and educate each and every child. I am amazed at the tenacity of our SVUSD team to bring the best to every classroom.  

When we deeply believe that the success of every student contributes to the quality of life in our community and then act accordingly, we witness students and families fly. The intentional service partnerships I spoke of last month, made visible in places like the Family Resource Center at El Verano, are examples of a community systemness – a deliberate integration of providers and support services. We are working as a learning organization to have a coherence that is palpable from all sides.  We are not alone trying to bring together our community to invest deeply in what matters to us. Sustainable Sonoma and focused efforts like the Sonoma Homeless Task Force are working to center and develop our collective capacity for the deepest community impact. We can and will do more.

You will see more information in the future about district listening circles and strategic planning in an effort to actively listen and prioritize district work. The success of our children is a responsibility the SVUSD community readily accepts. Please join us in strengthening our community and ensuring success for the students and families of Sonoma Valley.  


One thought on “The journey back to normal

  1. Stars of HOPE was privileged to be a part of the healing process for the community and we were especially honored to paint Stars of HOPE with over 1,200 young people at Hidden Valley, Riebli, and Dunbar elementary schools! Kids have a limitless sense of compassion and hope and we hope that the Stars are always part of your story of healing and paying it forward to other communities in need. Bravo Sonoma County!

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