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Urgent Optimism

March 13, 2020

These are challenging times. I want to assure the Saline Area Schools community, we will get through this time of uncertainty together, and things will return to normal. I realize and empathize with families, staff, and community members that are facing various types of challenges during this time. Challenging decisions made for the greater good sometimes have undesirable outcomes, yet I believe that we will overcome and get stronger. There are no simple solutions, no easy way to move forward, and no quick answers given the challenges we face today. 

On August 21, 2019, Saline Schools held its annual “welcome back” ceremony in the Saline High School Performing Arts Center. I shared a phrase that I use daily to guide my actions and decisions – “Urgent Optimism.” Jane McGonigal (contemporary American designer) defines urgent optimism for us: “Urgent Optimism is the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success.” I embrace that definition. In the simplest of terms, this mindset is the belief that tomorrow will be a better day – regardless of the obstacles we face today. 

I strive to look at the big picture and welcome the opportunities that lie ahead, even when those opportunities appear to be roadblocks. With patience, positivity, and discipline, each barricade becomes navigatable.

I remain confident and optimistic that as a school district and a community, we can find a way forward and that tomorrow will be a better day. 

“When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ― Fred Rogers. Saline is a community of helpers. With urgent optimism, join those who help, seek positive solutions, and build each other up. I live each day grateful for the firm, supportive community that is Saline. Be well.

COVID-19 Update & School Closure

March 12, 2020

March 12, 2020

Saline Area Schools Community,

In an abundance of caution, guidance from the Washtenaw County Health Department, and in alignment with other Washtenaw county school districts, Saline Area Schools will be closed beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020. 

This is an unprecedented emergency school closure and a public health situation that is rapidly evolving.  We will continue to update you as we get more information. In the meantime, we want to provide you with some broader guidance for you to keep in mind.

  • We intend to resume school on April 6th, 2020. 
  • We recommend that students take home belongings that they will need for the next three weeks.  
    • If your student will need medications currently on file at school or medical equipment used in the school setting during the closure, please contact Karan Hervey, District SAS District Nurse at 734-401-4160 or hervekar@salineschools.org so that arrangements can be made for pick up. Certain medications such as controlled substances must be picked up by a parent. Medications and equipment not needed during the closure can remain at school.
  • At this point, students are not required to remotely complete the curriculum (lessons, assessments, etc). Online courses remain active and students should continue working.
  • If you have questions, we encourage you to utilize the Let’s Talk feature on our website.

For information related to the District COVID-19 response and to access resources, please see the District informational page.

Thank you,

Scot Graden

Information page for COVID-19

March 11, 2020

March 11th

We have coordinated a page on the Saline Area Schools website to share information and updates regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Please note, we have been assured by public health officials that closing our school is unwarranted at this time and could create unintended consequences that would hurt their efforts to protect our community. We will remain in close contact with public health officials throughout the duration of this threat and comply with all of their guidance. We will notify the community immediately if this guidance changes. 

As always… remember to wash your hands!

Information Regarding Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 2, 2020

March 2, 2020

SAS Community:

We would like to take this opportunity to reach out with regard to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Saline Area Schools is in close communication with the Washtenaw County Health Department and will continue to follow their guidance and recommendations regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. 

We want to remind our school community that the best ways to prevent the spread of Coronavirus are the same as preventing the cold and flu, and include:

  • Frequently washing your hands with soap and water.
  • Covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend the use of facemasks for the general public.

The safety, health, and well-being of our students, staff and school community will, as always, continue to be our priority. We will continue monitoring the development of COVID-19 and plan accordingly in partnership with local, state, and federal health and government officials.

Click HERE for fact sheets from the Washtenaw County Health Department with additional information. If you would like to learn more about Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit www.michigan.gov/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus

Further, it is very important for all of us to speak up against racism as it relates to the Coronavirus.  Learn more about this by reading the entire article from Teaching Tolerance, “Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus”.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Karan Hervey, SAS District Nurse, 734-401-4160 or hervekar@salineschools.org.

Sincerely,

Scot A. Graden

Superintendent

Listening Session Update & Online Input Opportunity

February 20, 2020
February 19th Listening Session at Pleasant Ridge Elementary

SAS Community,

Thank you to those of you who came out to our first listening session on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Pleasant Ridge on February 19th. It was extremely valuable to watch a community share their experiences, thoughts and ideas about racism and the ways it has impacted students in the school district. If you were unable to make it to the last session at Pleasant Ridge, there are 4 other upcoming listening session opportunities:

Thursday, February 27th –  6:30 – 8:00 p.m., Saline Middle School Hot Spot 

Friday, February 28th – 12 – 1:30 p.m., Liberty School Board Room  

Saturday, February 29th – 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., Saline Senior Center (located behind Saline Middle School)

Wednesday, March 4th –  6:30 – 8:00 p.m., Harvest Elementary 

In addition, we have created an online survey form, associated with the work the District is doing with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, that asks about your experiences with inclusion in the Saline Area Schools.

Please consider providing input in this survey:Online Listening Session- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We’ve got a lot of work to do to make our school district a more inclusive setting in which ALL our students can thrive. However, I am confident, with the support of our students, teachers, support staff, administrators and community members, that  we are moving towards a sustainable model of inclusion in the Saline Area Schools.

Scot Graden

Superintendent

Listening, Learning…. and then Growing.

February 19, 2020

When working on issues of equity, we must listen with intention. Taking the time to listen to learn is critical. However, just hearing the concerns is rarely sufficient. Listening and learning are, quite literally, the least we can do. As families and students have shared what they need from the school and its administration, we have responded by listening.  That listening is appropriate and a needed first step.

Over the past few weeks, I have listened more genuinely than ever before. I have learned, and honestly, I have felt overwhelmed. These conversations have left me with more questions than answers. I have been spurred to want to know more, hear more voices, and seek positive solutions.  

 Over the next two weeks, Saline Area Schools will hold 5 Listening Sessions. I, along with other district administrators, hope that many different voices will present their experiences and their stories. We invite you to attend, or if you’re unable to do so, to share your thoughts digitally.  We have created a form for this purpose that will be shared at the first session.

We anticipate learning a great deal from these sessions, from the other groups with whom we have met, from the students, and from each other.  However, learning requires passive participation and exposure. The matter of creating inclusive spaces involves action. We can learn, but more importantly, we also need to act upon those concerns and grow.

Growth is active. This work is difficult but intentional.  Growth means opening up the collective and stereotypical mindset to opportunities for action. Growth means hearing painful realities, harsh feedback, and embracing the urgency to improve.  Growth means recognizing our shortcomings and seizing the opportunities to improve until we get it right. We welcome the challenge.

Statement from Saline Area Schools

February 4, 2020

Saline Area Schools Families & Staff,

Hate, prejudice, and racism have no place in our schools or our community.  

Yesterday, February 3rd, an individual in the Saline community made racist remarks at a forum directed at one of the parents in our community. This type of bigotry goes against all of the values and beliefs of our school system.

The Saline Board of Education and administration take the issue of student and adult behavior seriously.  We are striving to ensure a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment for all students and families, regardless of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or any other identity.


We have heard from and are listening to students, parents, and community members throughout the District.  We will continue to listen as we move forward and establish additional actions to support our students.

Over the past several years, we have established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, worked with our local intermediate school district to train teachers and administrators on social justice practices, and taken a number of steps to support a more culturally inclusive curriculum in our school district. However, it’s very clear that there is a great deal of additional work that we need to do to educate our students, staff, and community on the painful impact that racism has on our society.

This is an opportunity for us – the staff, students, and community of Saline Area Schools – to stand for anti-racism, respect, and inclusion of all students.

Scot Graden

Superintendent

Saline Area Schools

Community Conversation – February 12th

February 1, 2020

We will be hosting “Community Conversation” meeting on Wednesday, February 12th. Over the last twelve years I have had the opportunity to host numerous “Community Conversation” events to learn more about what interested community members see as the strengths of Saline Area Schools, and what areas they felt we needed to focus attention on for improvement. Through these conversations and other opportunities, I have learned a great deal about how many of you see our district and it has helped guide me, along with the Board of Education, as we move forward.

There are a lot of issues we can discuss, however, based on recent events I would like talk about the issue of diversity, equity & inclusion as it relates to our community and Saline Area Schools.  What role do we play as a school district?  What role should we play?

In an effort to continue this dialogue, I will be making time available on Wednesday, February 12th from 6:30pm- 8:00pm at Liberty School7265 N. Ann Arbor St. Please stop by, say hello and bring any thoughts about the district you feel I should know.

If you can’t make it, feel free to use “Let’s Talk” and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you,
Scot Graden

Community Conversation – February 3rd

January 28, 2020

We will be hosting “Community Conversation” meeting on Monday, February 3rd. Over the last twelve years I have had the opportunity to host numerous “Community Conversation” events to learn more about what interested community members see as the strengths of Saline Area Schools, and what areas they felt we needed to focus attention on for improvement. Through these conversations and other opportunities, I have learned a great deal about how many of you see our district and it has helped guide me, along with the Board of Education, as we move forward.

There are a lot of issues we can discuss, however, based on recent events I would like talk about the issue of diversity, equity & inclusion as it relates to our community and Saline Area Schools.  What role do we play as a school district?  What role should we play?

In an effort to continue this dialogue, I will be making time available on Monday, February 3rd from 9:30am- 11:00am at Liberty School, 7265 N. Ann Arbor St. Please stop by, say hello and bring any thoughts about the district you feel I should know.

If you can’t make it, feel free to use “Let’s Talk” and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you,
Scot Graden

Statement Regarding Racial Incident on Social Media by SHS Students

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Dear Saline Area Schools Community,

On Monday, January 27th it was brought to the attention of our staff and administration that offensive and inappropriate racist comments using derogatory terms about African Americans were posted on social media by Saline High School students. Administrators at Saline High School conducted a thorough investigation of the situation and determined that the incident represents an act of racism that created harm to all of our students, especially students of color. Hate, prejudice, and racism have no place in our schools or our community. 

Our School and our District find the words used in these posts to be deplorable and we strongly denounce the actions and words of these students. The Saline Board of Education and administration take these issues seriously as we strive to ensure a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment for all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or any other identity. This is an opportunity for us – the staff, students, and community of Saline Area Schools – to stand for anti-racism, respect, and inclusion of all students.

In addition, we recognize that harm has been done to students of color in Saline who saw the post. Additional efforts must be made to repair the damage from this situation. Saline Area Schools, along with many districts across the nation, use a process known as restorative practices (or restorative justice), where in conjunction with clear discipline for infraction of school rules, we work with those who created the harm as well as those who were harmed to repair the damage. 

Saline Area Schools is committed to creating and sustaining a culturally proficient and inclusive learning environment where EVERY member of the community is valued and respected. In addition to the above noted measures, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will continue to work on methods to help educate all students and staff regarding the ways that language and behavior can harm groups of people who have been historically marginalized.

The District will continue working to ensure that our schools provide a safe and inviting environment void of these types of despicable words and actions. Our staff will work diligently to ensure that this is the case for ALL of our students.  For information about how to talk to your child(ren) about issues of race follow this link – http://bit.ly/BeyondGoldenRule

Sincerely,

Scot Graden

Superintendent

Saline Area Schools

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