Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cheryl Champ shared her early teaching experiences in South Carolina an North Carolina in her address to teachers at the opening of the school year and how it had an impact on her educational philosophy.
"In my journey as an educator, from South Carolina, to North Carolina, back to upstate New York, Westchester and Long Island, I learned incredible lessons about the devastating effects of poverty, mental illness, and unemployment on families and communities," she said. "I also learned too much about how vulnerable parents and students are without financial, social, or cultural capital in a public school system, how the structure of schooling has traditionally perpetuated inequities in our society, and the need for educators with integrity, who will advocate for students who don't have anyone to advocate for them.
"These lessons have been paramount to my work in administration -- particularly in my last job as an assistant superintendent on Long Island and now here in Pelham.
"I came here three years ago, still not fully formed in my own learning, but as a much different educator than I began. As a community and district we too are not yet fully formed or perfect on these issues. But, I truly believe that we are on the same page about wanting to grow and create an environment for the current and next generations that is more just, more equitable, and more inclusive than that of the past. One where students and staff understand and appreciate differences and can navigate different cultures skillfully, respectfully, honoring the assets of others. One that wants relevant learning, that builds relationships, and makes connections across content and across life. And one that is concerned, more and more about not just the academic outcomes of its students, but about them as well-rounded, balanced, vital human beings. This is the vision of what I always hoped education would be. I suspect and hope this is the same for each of you.
"That vision is captured in the preamble to the new strategic plan that we begin this year. To develop empowered learners that are adaptable, well rounded, who are equipped to meaningfully contribute to society at the local, national, and global level."
The full text of her speed and slides are with this article as PDFs.