Dear Members of the Rockwood Community:
As an educator, father, husband, and community member, I have been in a space of deep reflection and sorrow during the past few days. These are challenging times. We continue to battle a pandemic that has resulted in the temporary closure of our schools and are confronted, once again, by the long-term effects of racism and racial injustice. Throughout our country and in our communities, we see anger, confusion, hurt and pain.
As your superintendent, the physical and social distancing required to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus has provided great challenge. I want to walk the halls of our schools, meet with our students, share handshakes, hugs, and high-fives, and tell our students that they are seen, heard, loved, and valued. Earlier this week on social media, I asserted that our words matter. And still they are not enough. Our actions matter. And they can have tremendous impact.
Saying something is important; and doing something is even more important. Let us speak and act. Let us act to ensure all students realize their potential. Let us act to ensure our students of color, particularly our Black students, feel safe, seen, and heard. Let us act to ensure that our teachers, staff members, and administrators are knowledgeable of the history of racial injustice in our country. Let us act to ensure we have knowledge of our own implicit bias and the impact it has upon our students. Let us act to ensure that we are engaging our parents of color and magnifying their voices as resources as we educate our students. Let us act to ensure our students understand that words matter. Let us act to ensure that hateful speech or action will not be tolerated in our schools.
The Way Forward, our Rockwood School District strategic plan, upholds universal equity, opportunity, and access as a focus area. The realization of this plan will require courageous conversations and courageous actions by students, staff, parents, and community members. We remain committed to ensuring all our children realize their potential.
I wish to speak and act. I also recognize that speaking and acting may cause feelings of discomfort, vulnerability, and uncertainty. While I do not have all the answers, I am confident that if we act with grace, love, compassion and empathy, and listen with open hearts and minds, we can make positive change throughout our schools and communities.
I invite you to join me in courageous conversations and courageous actions in the weeks and months ahead. Our children are counting on it!
Mark T. Miles, Ph.D.
Rockwood School District
111 E. North Street
Eureka, MO 63025