When I was seeking a district to make my new home as I returned to Michigan from South Dakota, it was really important to me to find a community that was caring and close-knit. I had grown up in such a place, enjoyed the same features that I thought were long gone while I lived in South Dakota, and wanted to be sure I found the connectivity I love in small towns. I found that and more in the Valley. It was exactly the place I had hoped to find and I was so happy to move here, work here and make a life here. 

When Covid came to town, all of the things I loved about this community asserted themselves. We created alliances with local government and civic leaders to work on food security, resources and had a spirit of working together to ensure everyone was ok enough to get through the crisis that impacted all of us. Looking back on those months, I am so proud of the energy, investment, humanity, and love that resonated through the confusion, adaptation, and constant change to a new way of getting things done.

Fast forward a year, everyone is tired and craving some return to the normalcy we once took for granted. We are ready for the virus to be done, over, finished. We ALL just want a normal start to a normal year. To underscore this, there are no guidelines which is fine as long as things stay fine, but they don’t. The past few weeks have been divisive, angry, and damaging. The levels of stress I have seen in people I care about from staff to students to parents and extended community have been extreme. Today, the mandates from our health department which exacerbated the division were lifted. It was a relief to think some of the stress might finally go away, and yet I believe we are at a critical juncture for our community. 

Who we will become from who we have been and who we are now. I think about that a lot. Our children watch us to inform how they think and feel about their place in the world. They develop their own thoughts and feelings about how to interpret their world based upon what their parents and teachers and peers do. So, what examples will we serve to be for each other? We have a huge responsibility as members of our community and role models to our children. I hope we choose to show unity, faith in our fellow man, charity, grace, trust in people’s potential, and a commitment to the greater good which transcends a virus, and politics and division. I know why I choose the Valley as my home. I strive to keep it the place we all love so well. In peace, love, and hope for a better tomorrow.

Dr. B