Take the Step

Kevin Casey, SAANYS Executive Director
May 2022 News & Notes

The past couple of years have been especially difficult for educators. According to a recent survey conducted of SAANYS members, 85% of respondents said their professional duties have been sidelined to fulfill COVID-related work. 86% reported an increase in student behavioral issues. 75% had transportation staffing shortages, while 66% had teacher shortages, and 28% reported “significant” learning loss across the general student population. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 33% of respondents have accelerated their retirement plans.

SAANYS has used various means to publish this data. It resonates with those closely involved with education, regardless of title or employer. Despite the burdens endured, or perhaps because of them, the past couple of years have arguably been the finest hours of educators. I am well aware that instruction was interrupted and distance learning has inherent shortcomings, particularly for certain student populations. I know anti-mask, quarantine, vaccination, and spacing sentiments were often misdirected toward educators as if the educators were the authors of the public health policies with which some disagreed. Despite the momentous challenges of being charged with providing education services in a markedly different manner, without prior notice, and having to absorb the time-consuming role of implementing public health policy that was frequently changing and often insensitive to the school environment, you largely succeeded. You deserve to be proud of your efforts.

I like to think we are moving toward a greater degree of pre-pandemic normalcy, but we still need to address the conditions which produced the statistics provided in the beginning of this article. SAANYS regularly engages in a wide variety of professional learning, but there are three upcoming events in particular that I would like to bring to your attention. They are designed to move us toward “normalcy” by addressing some of the realities educators now face. One is a three-part virtual summer series on restorative practices to address student behavior. This will be led by Dominique Smith, whose presentation at the 2021 SAANYS Annual Conference was very well received.

SAANYS has also announced a cohort series for new leaders. This is an eight-part virtual series that runs from October to May. It will provide a consistent group and expert facilitation to support newer leaders as they grapple with the real world challenges they are sure to face. Lastly, SAANYS’ 50th Anniversary Annual Conference will be held at the Sagamore Resort on Lake George on October 23-24. This conference offers much for school administrators, as it is a professional conference organized by school administrators for school administrators to focus on those professional issues school administrators face every day.

Our goal is to provide educators with the tools to intentionally prepare for a known, if recently modified, environment. Without taking intentional steps to prepare, that environment may once again feel like a maelstrom.