One word: believe. That was the message of the Brewster Central School District Convocation 2023-24, as teachers, administrators and staff gathered in the high school auditorium on August 31 to kick off the school year.
Superintendent Dr. Laurie Bandlow set the tone by expressing her gratitude for the work done every day in the district to inspire Brewster’s students. “I believe in each and every one of you. Focus on believing in yourself this year. Think of the people who believed in you as inspiration.”
For Dr. Bandlow, one such person was her great grandmother, a kindergarten teacher who lived through the Depression and who encouraged Bandlow to become a teacher. Another was Bandlow’s sixth grade teacher Elaine Smith who helped her adjust when she moved from the city to the Hudson Valley. Years later, they worked alongside each other, and Smith became her mentor.
“Think of who inspires you. Believe in yourself. Believe in your colleagues. Lean on each other. Pay it forward. Help each other. We all need one another.”
The lights in the auditorium dimmed, and Bandlow played a clip from the television show Ted Lasso with the ultimate message about believing: “Belief is something that comes from within, not from the outside.”
Board of Education President Kerry Cunningham followed with words of gratitude and support.
“We hope you give yourselves the credit you deserve,” said Cunningham. “We believe in you. We hope this year brings you professional success and enjoyment.”
Jim Treloar, President of the Administrators Association of Brewster highlighted all of the different people within the district–facilities staff, transportation staff, aids and monitors, clerical staff, kitchen workers, technology staff, nurses, psychologists, district administrators and teachers, all of whom play a part in making sure each and every Brewster student has an authentic learning experience. He encouraged everyone to “find ways to make all students welcome.”
“We have the opportunity to inspire students to believe in themselves,” said Paul George, Brewster Teachers Association President. “We are guides for our students by fostering trust and encouraging their abilities.”
Finally, United Service Employees International Union President Marie Sangalli spoke about the importance of the workers behind the scenes in the district. “We may not be the main attraction, but we make for the best experience for our students.”