BERLIN – Superintendent Lou Taylor thanked educators for their tireless efforts throughout the pandemic and encouraged them to continue making a difference as they begin the school year next week.
Worcester County Public Schools teachers and employees gathered at the Stephen Decatur High School stadium Tuesday for a back to school kickoff event. Taylor reminded them they were working in education because they wanted to help kids grow.
“I want to tell you something from the bottom of my heart. There’s no greater team than Team Worcester that is sitting in this arena today,” he said. “No greater team. Because you make a difference.”
Tuesday’s kickoff event featured comments from 2020 Worcester County Teacher of the Year Christina McQuaid, Taylor and special guest Hamish Brewer. Brewer, known as the “relentless, tattooed, skateboarding principal,” is touted as a school turnaround and school improvement specialist. He acknowledged the unprecedented challenges of teaching during a pandemic but urged teachers to focus on controlling what they could—the way they taught. Advancements in technology have made some teaching tools obsolete, he said, adding that educators had to familiarize themselves with things like Instagram Tiktok because that’s what today’s kids were using.
“This is an activist generation coming up,” Brewer said. “They want their voice amplified and they want to be advocated for. And guess what? They have the tools to do it. Our kids today have the tools to do it. If we’re not thinking about this, if we’re not open to this, then we just got outsourced.”
He challenged teachers to think about their impact.
“When was the last time you thought about your legacy?” Brewer asked. “I want to challenge you personally right now. When you get up each and every day, what do you think? Do you think ‘I have an opportunity to make a difference every day’? What are you thinking when you come through the doors each and every day? When you knock down the doors on Tuesday, kick those doors in. because I’m going to tell you right now there’s no guarantees in life. Tomorrow’s not guaranteed. Yesterday’s finished. It’s right here right now. We own the moment. That’s legacy. Own the moment.”
McQuaid also reminded her peers of the critical role they played in helping kids become productive citizens who would help move the world forward. She acknowledged that it was a hard job, particularly right now, and said teachers needed to be cognizant of their own needs too.
“You are the teachers that go above and beyond and through obstacles at every blockade to support our students,” she said. “As we move forward, it’s important for us to not only take care of our students but also take care of yourselves. As a county we have paved the way for talking about mental health with our students but today I want to encourage you to focus on your own health so you can truly be a champion for your students.”
Taylor expressed his gratitude for educators’ efforts during the last 18 months.
“As we begin and we come back with a bang, we’re going to open our doors up next Tuesday morning and we’re going to welcome those kids, some who have not been back in our schools since the pandemic started. Some who are screaming for love and support and energy like we’ve never seen before. Some who are coming from homes of poverty, from homes of addiction, from homes of neglect, and they’re depending on us,” he said. “They’re depending on us to make a difference.”