Superintendent Paul Smith
One year ago, as schools opened in late summer 2022, we were full of optimism that our post-pandemic world would return to normalcy, especially in our schools and classrooms. Many of us found that the needs of students had become more complex as time moved ahead.
As a result, throughout the year and especially during budget meetings, I often used the term, “Duty of Care,” to imply that we were not only concerned about the academic progress of students, but were equally committed to our children’s mental health and wellness. As school teachers and staff members, we know that there is an inseparable correlation between student achievement and student wellness. Ensuring that students are “well” falls directly on our shoulders as an equal burden to teaching.
Though challenges will always present themselves in education, I know that as a school district, we are a team of professionals and will continue to deliver our best to our students and families. I know we can meet and surpass our own standards for our Duty of Care in 2023-24.
One of my summer reading books, Powerful Student Care has inspired me to better define our Duty of Care. The challenge to schools from the authors is to “honor each learner as distinctive and irreplaceable.” Ascribing tremendous value to every child and valuing their uniqueness is a commitment that we hope will promote evident growth and progress in our children. And, given the challenges that our students face while in school and as graduates, we have added resilience to be compassionate and courageous will be the third tenet of our Duty of Care.
In order to for every learner to grow and progress throughout an East Hampton education, we will treat them as both distinctive and irreplaceable.
• Distinctive: We will celebrate and value the uniqueness of each individual.
• Irreplaceable: We will treasure and cherish each individual ascribing tremendous value to every child.
We know that we must always be on the alert as to the mental health and wellness of our students.
10 Million Students
ages 13-18 need professional help for
a mental health condition,
yet 70% do not receive the treatment they need
Half of mental heatlh disorders begin
before age 14 and three-quarters before the age of 24
Studies show 81% of teens with anxiety, 71% of teens with depression, and 85% of teens with ADHD get better with treatment
70% of students
see anxiety and depression
as a major problem among their peers
Demonstrating resilience increases youths' self‑efficacy because they are able to see evidence of their ability to:
· face challenges competently;
· productive decisions about addressing challenges, including when and how to seek help;
· think about and be accountable for their actions and the consequences of their actions; and
· influence their development and well-being in a positive direction.
Having students note that their actions matter to others and that their actions can be and are influential in their world, push resiliency to a whole new level of meaning for schools.
I have hoped that compassion serves as the cornerstone of an East Hampton education and I now believe that our expanded definition of resilience should inspire us to avoid any limitations or inequities that prevent students from possessing the courage to dream, discover, and achieve.
With our new Duty of Care, we are committed to every student’s academic success, their mental health, and their ability to thrive.
The authors of Powerful Student Care urge each school professional to “nurture the infinite potential in each child.” I don’t think there is a more worthy commitment that we could make this year.
Paul K. Smith