September 4, 2020

Dear Sherwood School District Community,

Each year at about this time, I compose a letter to the SSD community to post on this section of our District’s website — it’s a tradition, of sorts. With excitement, eagerness and a healthy dose of butterflies, I share my thoughts about where we are as a district and what we get to look forward to in the upcoming school year. This year, I have had a few failed attempts at composing this message; the “typical” way I approach it almost seems disingenuous, because there is almost nothing about what we are all experiencing that is “typical.”

This is my eleventh year of having the privilege and distinct honor of serving as the Superintendent of the Sherwood School District.  Over the years there have been major milestones along the way — the creation of a Strategic Plan, boundary adjustments, league championships, music and theater accolades — and high on the list of milestones was our voters passing a $247.5M bond in November of 2016 to fund such projects as the construction of a new high school campus; the transformation of several other school buildings to host new grade levels; upgrades to technology, safety, and security; new curriculum adoptions; and attending to long-overdue district-wide deferred maintenance.  Since the passage of this bond, we have known that fall of 2020 would be the glorious finish line for our largest projects — the opening of the new high school and our Transformation schools to our students and staff. 

Now, here we are!  We are at that finish line that so many of us have been envisioning and working so hard to cross…but we had no idea of the challenges that would be superimposed over all of our lives this year — both personal and professional — by way of a global pandemic.  Lives lost, jobs lost, and the disruption to regular routines due to quarantine, business closures, and — hitting closely to home for all of us — the closure of K-12 schools last spring. 

Since mid-March, “school” as we have known it has been upended and we all — families, students, staff, administrators — have been adjusting to this change.  This has not been an easy task — indeed, it has required levels of resilience, patience, grace, and strength that many of us would not have known we were capable of at the start of this year!  Yet over the last several months, so many  have risen to the occasion — from students engaging in learning in new ways, to parents taking on the challenge of directing their children’s learning, to staff and administrators bringing innovative solutions and ideas into our district.  I have seen the community come together to support our students, families and staff members.  I have seen educators work harder than ever before, all in the interest of serving their students.  While for many these months have felt like the worst of times, in so many ways these months have also demonstrated the best parts of this community. Times like these can bring out the very best and the worst in all of us — and I am thankful for the instances of the “very best” that I have seen during the last several months, over and over again.

There is no doubt that the 2020-21 school year will continue to challenge our schools and our district in ways we have never seen before. The work ahead of us is multi-layered; it is a balancing act of meeting the academic and social-emotional needs of our students, keeping students and staff safe during a pandemic, continuing to adapt and evolve our delivery of distance learning, and aligning to the ever-changing requirements and guidance placed on all K-12 schools — it is undeniably daunting to all of us! Additionally, our district is committed to evolving in our ability to make learning accessible and equitable to all of our students — and in light of the civil rights movement currently happening around our nation, we know this work is more important than ever.  

Yet no matter the challenges we will undoubtedly face in the year ahead, I know that we will move forward. We will learn new lessons, find new solutions, and do all that we can to support each other through the unknowns and uncertainties we may face. Our staff and administrators will continue to serve their students with all that they have. Our families will continue to partner with our district, sharing feedback on how we best serve the needs of their children, and our community will continue in their unwavering support of the students in our district.  As we face these challenges together, I know we will do our very best and will all strive to be our very best — all the while,  extending  grace, patience and kindness to all with whom we come into contact.

With sincere gratitude,

Dr. Heather Cordie