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Recently I was made aware of a report produced by the University of Utah Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. This report included a fact sheet that discussed the devastating learning loss observed in students throughout the country as a direct effect of the COVID pandemic.

The pandemic was one of the most difficult challenges of our time, not only within the education arena, but for our society as a whole. Those challenges were numerous and included fear, limitations in personal contact, restrictions on movement and travel, illnesses and changes in lifestyle, as well as political and societal polarization. . . just to name a few.

While student achievement data is only one of many variables that we monitor to help us measure the success of our work, it is a very important variable. According to the University of Utah study, learning loss differed significantly among schools and districts throughout the state and country. In English Language Arts grades 3-10, Sevier School District was one of only five school districts in the state of Utah that experienced growth in proficiency rates.

As I read the report and saw that our school district was listed as one of only five that showed growth in a time of universal decline, I had a feeling of tremendous appreciation for each of you. I thought of you and the sacrifices that you made, and continue to make, for our students and community. This also reaffirmed my belief that we truly have the BEST of the best people in the business! Your collaborative efforts, teamwork, and commitment to excellence to our children is inspirational.

Human connection is the key to our school system. While technology is a tool that can enhance instruction, it can never replace the magic of teaching that comes from human connection. The most essential component of our work occurs in the inspirational face-to-face moments between each of you and our students. COVID was especially painful on each of us because of our love and concern for our students. As difficult as it was juggling the challenges of social distancing, quarantining, and contact tracing, your efforts during this time paid off and our students have emerged from the pandemic with resilience.