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Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Melrose Schools in the Post-Election Dynamic

It’s doubtful there would be argument around the fact that this year’s Presidential election was long, emotionally charged, and exhausting. Its outcome has left some Americans relieved and satisfied while leaving others disappointed and afraid. All await what happens next and how we will come together as a true United States of America. As it has played out in society, so has it played out in our schools as students tried to make meaning from the speech making and media interpretations; personal histories, attributes, and flaws of the candidates; and now, the aftermath and path forward.

The Melrose Public Schools, like so many in our nation, understand how impactful this dynamic can be on students, and our district has addressed it in a variety of ways. Below please find Superintendent Taymore’s review of the situation and how it’s been (and continues to be) addressed:

Schools across the country, including those in Melrose, have been responding and providing support to their communities throughout the past year of this divisive election campaign. It has been an ongoing effort at every grade level to assist students, families, and staff that have been distressed and even frightened by the campaign’s intolerable rhetoric. Supporting our students, day in and day out, is the primary mission of this district. My administrators and I are well aware of how this is playing out not only in our schools, but also in our Melrose community and across the state and country.  

Wednesday was a difficult day for all of us, but staff was prepared to work with students and their families as a result of efforts over the last 2 1/2 years. We started the day by providing them with additional information on how to talk to students about the results. I say this is "additional" because it follows up on the training we have been doing with all staff as recently as the day of the election. Moreover, I sent a personal note to staff emphasizing that our message to students is that we will always care for them, advocate for them, and provide them a safe space.  We do the work we do because of our commitment to children. Numerous staff members throughout the district worked with students in response to their needs. In fact, METCO Director Ms. Ward and I worked together with our METCO students. Lastly, MHS Principal Mr. Merrill has been very clear in his message to students, families, and staff that MHS will welcome and respect all members of our community. We will continue to reinforce that belief and work with students as individual situations arise. My staff and I are also aware that we have a long road ahead of us as this presidency unfolds over the next four years.  

The return to civility must start with the adults. As our wonderful speaker from the Tuskegee Airmen said to over 300 participants in last Monday night’s presentation at the MHS Learning Commons: "Act as though we are all members of one family--because we are."

A helpful resource from Wheelock Professor of Early Education Diane Levin, PhD, can be found here: http://blog.wheelock.edu/tips-for-helping-younger-children-cope-with-the-election/. (It contains additional resources that may be helpful for older children.) If you have questions about this topic as it relates to work being done in the schools, please contact your child(ren)’s teacher and/or principal. They are prepared to assist.