Today is the first day of school for students in Granby, but earlier this week school staff gathered to reflect on the last year and a half of pandemic learning and look to the year ahead. During Granby Public School’s convocation many speakers focused on the central role of relationships when it comes to teaching and learning.
Granby Education Association President KC Petruzzi (pictured above) told her colleagues she’s recently been invited to her 25th high school reunion, which, she said, has made her think about who she’s going to see and what stories she and her former classmates will share.
“We’re not going to be talking about how quickly our tests got turned back or how neat that bulletin board was,” she said. Instead, she said, she and other alums will talk about their relationships with their teachers, the silly things they said, and the funny things that happened.
Tess, a Granby High School junior who co-emceed the convocation, said that it’s the school staff who keeps her looking forward to coming to school every day. “It is you guys who make this place what it is,” she told educators. “What makes school great is not only the opportunity to learn academics from some of the best, but the chance to connect with staff and learn things that aren’t in a textbook.”
The youngest person to speak at convocation was an incoming first grader named Sam. “I’m excited to go back to school to see my friends,” he said. “I think teachers are important because they help you learn and keep you safe.”
Kate, the co-emcee who is also a junior, took part in remote learning last year. Even though she is a dedicated student and managed to keep up with her schoolwork, she found remote learning difficult.
“It was very hard, and I can’t even imagine what it was like for teachers and staff. You had to juggle teaching in-person and online,” she said. “I know this year will not be easy, and we’ll have our good and bad days, but know that you positively impact students’ lives through a kind word or gesture.”
Petruzzi said that the pandemic, and the remote and hybrid learning that accompanied it last year for many students, has driven home more than ever how important our relationships are. When educators are human and let students see that they are fallible, that can only strengthen student-teacher relationships, she said.
“If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that everything’s not going to be perfect,” Petruzzi said. “We fell down many times last year, and we were human with our students. We were real with them, and that makes the difference. That’s what they’re going to remember.”
Granby Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jordan Grossman echoed that message, reminding educators of the impact they have on this generation of students. “It is other people who make us who we are,” he said, and asked educators to ask themselves, “Who are the individuals who have had the most impact on who you are today?”
He also welcomed a former high school classmate, CEA President Kate Dias, who attended convocation to meet Granby Education Association members and welcome them to the new school year.
Granby’s Teacher of the Year Jeff Stanwood, a business teacher at the high school, said that after a very challenging 2020-21 school year he is excited to get back into the classroom this fall. He encouraged his colleagues to take an optimistic attitude to the year ahead, despite the challenges that remain.
“Start to look for the opportunities that this year provides you,” he recommended. “What opportunities do you have this year that you didn’t have last year? A full room of students again? A club that you couldn’t run last year? Focus on what you love doing—last year we were just trying to keep our heads above water.”
He added, “There are no mistakes, only opportunities. This year I encourage you to take those opportunities and rock on.”
Petruzzi finished her remarks with the following wish for Granby educators: “May your crayons be Crayola, may all your copies print smoothly, and may all your directions be followed the first time.”