A Reason to be Thankful

Posted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson on 11/20/2018

When I became Superintendent three and a half years ago, I had a specific vision about education in the Normandy community, in the Normandy footprint. What if our children could envision attending our Early Childhood Center, then Kindergarten, then go to an elementary school, middle school and high school in this footprint, but not stop there? What if there were majors, programs, scholarships, grants, fellowships, and opportunities at the University of Missouri that would support them attending that four-year institution, and then they have an internship and later, a career at Express Scripts, or some other corporation or business in our footprint?

This vision for our young people exists now and I am incredibly thankful.

Two months ago, while sitting with an Express Scripts executive and discussing the UMSL Bridge Program, I was informed that this program offers scholarships to UMSL that our students can apply for. To truly appreciate this, the UMSL Bridge program was developed with Normandy students in mind. In essence, it prepares students for success in college and also trains parents in strategies to support their future college students.

I stood on that hill neighboring UMSL, looking at the foundation and rising walls of the new Normandy Early Learning Center. To the east of the site is Lucas Crossing Elementary Complex, soon to be a 1-8 Elemiddle School. To the north of the Early Learning Center site is the UMSL North Campus. In addition to the four years spent at the high school, at this site, I can see the vision I have for the Collaborative — from early learning to college to career, all within our footprint.

I am thankful for the privilege to be alive now. At this time, in these challenging days ripe with opportunity, I get to serve as the Superintendent of Schools in the Normandy Schools Collaborative and work with a team of committed adults who refuse to settle for low aspirations for our children. I am thankful for the families who trust us to do the right thing for their children, to find ways to support families and teach children. I am thankful for collaborators and community partners who have come alongside us to do what can be difficult. I am thankful for the chance to make a difference.

As I stood on that hill looking down at the walls of the new Early Learning Center rising out of the ground, the footprint of the building is clear now. I can imagine the space completed and filled with our youngest scholars. This was the vision: lay a solid foundation for our youngest learners, create an educational experience that both they and their families will value. This is the foundation that will change our future for the better.

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to thank each of you for helping make this vision a reality. May your thanksgiving be a joyful start to the holiday season.

--Dr. Charles J. Pearson, Superintendent of Schools