APS Column: Reflecting on perseverance

Published 6:11 pm Friday, March 4, 2022

By Dr. Joey Page

Austin Public Schools Superintendent

Welcome to March!

I know this time of year can feel like a grind when we’re all feeling the weariness of long-term stress and a very long winter, but this is the point where we start to turn a corner. Suddenly, the end of the school year is in sight and there’s a little more warmth in the air every day. As always, it’s nice to see things growing again.

Speaking of growth, I have been thinking about our community and district as we work through the pandemic and set our sights on new beginnings. I recently attended the National Conference on Education in Nashville, and I went to a session called “Surviving the Storm: Leading Through Post-Traumatic Growth.”

One of my biggest takeaways from a session was the term “post-traumatic growth,” coined by psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun in the 1990s. They define “post-traumatic growth” as the positive psychological change experienced due to the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances. Even after terrible events, “people develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have and a better understanding of how to live life.” (Tedeschi, 2016)

Just getting through the pandemic is a win, period. We all go through tough times at some point in our life, but collectively the past three school years have been extremely challenging. Could there even be an upside to everything we’ve been through? I think so.

Everyone who works and learns here at Austin Public Schools should be proud of their perseverance. Witnessing the drive and fortitude on display in the hallways, classrooms, and practice fields is what makes Austin inspiring. From the start of the day until the last bell, there’s a spirit here that even a years-long pandemic just can’t dampen.

I think that grit is going to take us far as the days get brighter and warmer. We have not just survived, we have thrived. What’s more, we’re taking the strength and insights we’ve gained to work on a better future for Austin Public Schools. We are working with staff in strategic planning meetings, discovering our desired daily experiences for students, staff, and teachers, and finding ways to mobilize into change.

Being willing to change is how you survive trauma. It’s how we’re going to make Austin Public schools even better, and more fun! As we continue to grow and become even better than before, I’m looking forward to seeing every student learn in a challenging, supportive environment where they can be successful. Most importantly, I believe fun is very much a part of the desired daily experience for every student. After everything we’ve been through, I think it’s safe to say we all need a healthy dose of fun in our lives!

As always, thank you for your support of our students and staff as we work to embody our mission to engage, empower, and inspire. To brighter, warmer days ahead!