1. What is your education background and where are you currently?
I’ve been a member of the Liverpool community my entire life. I graduated from Liverpool High School in 1998 and taught in the district for 10 years before becoming the principal at Morgan Road Elementary School in 2012. Since taking this position, my focus has been on developing a climate and culture our community will be proud of while also being the best father I can be to my three daughters.
2. How is the school year different now from September 2020?
When we started the school year in September, we had no idea how long we would be able to safely stay open. We were concerned that COVID could easily spread in our schools. Throughout the past six months, we’ve been able to collect data that shows that schools are one of the safest, if not the safest, place we can be during the pandemic. As this has proven to be true, the anxiety around spreading the virus in schools has started to decrease with parents, teachers, and students. Now the anxiety is starting to grow around the negative impact not being in school is having on our children. As districts and schools start to bring back students more consistently in the coming weeks and months, we are going to have to work through the varying level of anxiety our communities have about COVID. It’s my hope that by maintaining many of the protocols we’ve put in place and supporting families, we will be able to safely open our schools for all students, every day.
3. How has your school instilled the Positivity Project character traits during these different times?
The Positivity Project is grounded in the research of positive psychology. Positive psychology is the study of what makes people thrive at life. Our teachers spend 10-15 minutes a day in their classrooms discussing character strengths and the Other People Mindset with students as a reminder to all of us in the school community about the power of positive relationships. We are currently living through a challenging time in our nation’s history and it’s our hope that teaching students about their character and the character of others will help them grow to be more empathic and appreciative of the perspective of others. One example of how we have instilled the Positivity Project during the pandemic is by focusing on strengths like gratitude. This is one of the 24 character strengths. We talk about how we are grateful for the healthcare workers that care for our sick, the scientists who have worked tirelessly to develop vaccines in record time, and the leaders who are doing their part to put an end to this pandemic as soon as possible. It seems to be human nature to focus on the negative or what is not going well, when in reality, we have so many things that we can be grateful for in our country.