Thanks, Lucy Laney, for dealing hope

This post from Lucy Laney Community School, a K-5 on Minneapolis’s north side, appeared on my Facebook feed early last Friday afternoon:

It’s great, I know. A perfect communication to families regarding the preceding few days’ horrific, potentially youth-confusing news items and all that. Actively turning adversity into opportunities for learning and dialogue and processing, etc., etc.

Based on what I’ve come to expect from Laney, though, the Facebook communication above was hardly surprising.

Indeed, having admired the drive, vision, intellect, sincerity, and creativity (believe me, the list of admirable qualities could continue here) of Laney’s principal, Mauri Melander, for a number of years and having spent time at the school to observe operations and to pick Mauri’s and her staff’s brains, I’ve pretty much come to expect this type of message from them. They know exactly how they want their kids to grow and why, and they work constantly and deliberately — with, I should add, truly remarkable togetherness — toward those goals.

I’ll put it this way: Though I follow many, many schools across the US in various ways and for various reasons, Laney’s the only school I ‘like’ on Facebook. I simply don’t want to miss anything they put out there, as I know I can learn from it.

All that said, it was discouraging — crushing, more like — to see Principal Melander’s personal FB account not even three hours after the typically great communication embedded above. In response to news that two very young children had been shot, one fatally, just down the street from her school, she offered this:

Don’t fear, however. From the overwhelming emotions of the later post, Principal Melander and Laney Community School emerged with this by Sunday evening:

From the moment I read it, I was in. Not because I thought they’d need support (again: I’ve seen Principal Melander and her staff do their thing) or because I needed a place to vent my anger and shout at a system, but just because of what the posts said: the children are watching. And as they are, they need to see as many adults as possible not, as Principal Melander put it in this interview with the local NBC affiliate, ‘starting to act like it’s normal’. As many adults as possible, in other words, walking alongside them with hurt and confused expressions to mirror their own.

Laney’s walk Monday morning consisted of a silent walk from school, individual students’ tributes (handmade cards were deposited at a memorial site), a silent circle of all gathered, and a silent walk back to school. Though no program of speakers worked to jam any desired takeaways into students/other attendants, I can say for sure that the brief event is among the most memorable times I’ve ever had in a school. And as such, I have no doubt that similarly permanent impressions were made on Laney’s dear students.

Thanks, Principal Melander and Laney staff, for creating such an inspiring learning environment for your kids — and, of course, for ed professionals like me. Your vision, passion, adaptability, and unity — especially your unity — continually provide a way forward for me, thus giving me great hope.

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