Trustee’s Turn

I recently saw a meme stating, “My free, 7-day trial of 2021 did not turn out as expected; therefore, I am returning it”.

The 2020 school year and the adaptive challenges of leading through the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with civil unrest and the on-going pandemic to begin the new year are surely testing the limits of our resilience. In reflecting on this, I am reminded that where there is challenge, there is also opportunity. Think about the following quote:

Two stories…were taking shape. One I called The Firestorm (a story of impending division and fragmentation); the other I called The Gift (a story of emerging community and possibility) …We could choose the story we wanted to live into.  (Pace Marshall, 2006)

As I think about supporting our teachers, para’s, office staff, and administrators, along with our support staff such as bus driver’s, food service, mechanics, and everyone collectively who helps make our school district the tremendous asset it is in our community, it would be easy to look back on the “firestorm” of the past year and despair. And yet, I am reminded that our partnerships are also a gift, a supportive community with vast reserves of skills, knowledge, and the willingness to serve one another.

In my story of community and possibility, much gratitude goes out to the various teams at PSWCT. Consistently, at every level of the organization, our partners at PSWCT have willingly engaged with me in solving complex problems and providing timely data and analysis that has helped my school district make better decisions. In doing so, we’ve been able to support injured workers and return them to work safely, close costly claims, engage in prevention planning, and implement new programs resulting in cost savings and incentives that can then be reallocated to the classroom. After all, students are our highest priority! I am also genuinely grateful for our member school districts and each of you who have provided your insight and experience. We’re all in this together, right? 

So, here’s to 2021 and all the “gift” of emerging possibility and community formed from the “firestorm” of the previous year! Don’t forget the power of wit and wisdom for building a hopeful future for all the employees you support.

Ailene M. Baxter, Ed.D.

Director of Staffing and School Support, Puyallup School District, immediate past PSWCT Chair, Executive Advisory Board

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