Letter from the Superintendent about recent events

Letter from the Superintendent about recent events
Posted on 09/08/2020

Dear West Irondequoit Community,  

Today marks our “official” welcome back for staff. Although our immediate focus is on safely reopening our schools amid a pandemic, I am compelled to address the turmoil on our doorstep. Personally and professionally, I feel a deep sense of sorrow and heartache about the death of Daniel Prude and the division in Rochester and our surrounding areas. As superintendent, I am responsible for coordinating a reaction in support of our students, families and staff and am searching for the right way to go about it. 

In June, the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents took a strong collective stance by issuing a joint letter. Our letter stated that, “We stand united in our support of equity and inclusion, and we claim schools as a place of love and acceptance for all. Our school communities have the power to turn pain and prejudice into healing and understanding.” These are powerful words and, more importantly, should result in a powerful impact. Now more than ever, our schools must reflect on the change in policy, practices, learning, and, ultimately, the mindset needed to embody that love and acceptance. 

We are processing the emotions associated with this latest death, and the angst of reopening schools impacts our mental health and well-being. We must recognize the pain and despair that we may feel, as well as our children. Our school counselors and mental health staff stand ready to support students and families in processing these emotions and having crucial conversations to promote health and self-care. Please contact your building principal or pupil service staff member directly for support. Additionally, families can access resources from organizations such as the Center for Racial Justice in Education. Parents/guardians also can access guides on topics such as: 

Further supports for staff are available by accessing our Employee Assistance Program.

We will organize opportunities soon to engage students and families in dialogue, much like the previously facilitated brave and safe space circles. To truly create equitable and inclusive schools filled with love and acceptance for all, we must work together in a sustained effort. We must listen with the intent to hear and have a constructive dialogue to change our system and practices to better our children. 

In service,

Aaron Johnson signature

Aaron R. Johnson, Ed. D
Superintendent of Schools