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Message to Families from the Superintendent - November 21, 2023

November 21, 2023

Dear Shrewsbury Families,

As we head into the Thanksgiving vacation, please accept my best wishes for an enjoyable break.  I know that for many of you, this will be cherished time with loved ones, while for others it may be difficult due to your personal circumstances.  Whatever your situation might be, I sincerely hope that over the next several days you are able to rest and spend time on things that bring you peace of mind.

In this season of gratitude, I want to thank you for your continued support of your children's education.  I am gratified to see the many successes of our students that are possible thanks to their efforts, the hard work of our educators and support staff, and what you do to ensure a strong partnership between home and school.  While we have much to celebrate, at the same time the dynamics affecting public education in our nation, state, and our own district continue to present a variety of significant challenges.  At last week’s School Committee meeting, I suggested that in public education we are experiencing what is known as a “VUCA” environment: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.  You can watch my presentation here, and view the presentation slide deck here.  

Experts say the way to navigate through a VUCA environment is to ensure that your organization has a strong vision and clear priorities, while demonstrating understanding of people's needs and responding with agility to new circumstances.  Our school district is working hard to do these things.   Last week, the School Committee approved our district’s strategic goals and action steps for this school year.  I am pleased that our supportive School Committee has endorsed the priorities that you, our students, and our staff told us were the things that were most important when we went through the strategic planning process last year, with concrete actions that advance the well-being of all,  educational excellence, and optimization of our resources.  These goals and action steps also document our district's response to unanticipated challenges, such as the influx of newcomer students from other countries, including those housed at the emergency shelter that opened within our community.  

Our strategic plan and goals are important to focus and document the excellent work happening in our schools — and I think we are focused on the right things.  However, the most important reasons why I believe our schools will successfully meet these challenges are the terrific people who make up our school communities – our students, our staff, and you, our families.  I am proud and grateful that we have such a strong support system for our students here in Shrewsbury, in which you play a crucial role as parents and caregivers.  Thank you for all that you do to partner with our schools.
Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating, and safe travels to those journeying out of town.


Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools

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