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Words cannot express just how proud I am of what our Cabell County Schools employees have accomplished over the last several years. I don’t need to tell them that working through the pandemic has been difficult, or hard, or exhausting because they have lived it. There are no words that adequately describe all they have experienced or how they are feeling, or that can fully communicate my gratitude for their service to our students and community. Through it all, our district has kept what is best for children as our primary focus.

To show our appreciation, my leadership team and I have been making rounds each month to thank individuals who have gone above and beyond in their service. These caring adults have been nominated for special recognition by their peers, students or members of the community. We celebrate them as “superheroes” because that is exactly what they are. In his recent blog, Bill Priemer, CEO of software company Hyland, outlines four characteristics of a superhero. He says superheroes have extraordinary ability, great courage, moral conviction and a mission to serve.

While those we’ve celebrated are deserving, they are not the only members of our school family performing heroic acts every day. Countless Cabell County Schools educators, administrators and service employees demonstrate extraordinary service to students by innovating instruction at light speed, learning how to provide high-quality remote learning lessons and utilizing new digital resources, all the while modifying instruction for the unique needs of each learner. Like Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” they band their strengths together, ensuring every child is cared for with a nutritious meal, a clean school building, a safe school bus, a hug or a smile. They inspire students to keep reaching and working hard, to continue discovering their creativity and unique skills and to become the very best versions of themselves.

Our employees also demonstrate tremendous courage. They implement new strategies and utilize resources that may have been outside their comfort zones just a few years ago. They try new approaches and address increasingly complex societal issues. And they consistently show up for work in person, bravely keeping the school doors open during a global pandemic even while mourning the loss of their own friends and loved ones. No matter what is happening in their own lives, Cabell educators always put the well-being of their students first.

I think I am most proud of our employees’ moral conviction and mission to serve. As educators, we work with the idea that we aren’t doing it for ourselves; rather we are serving the greater good by building others up. Like reformer Horace Mann, our educators share in the belief that public education is the answer to a moral obligation to improve society. We believe that every child, regardless of race, religion, creed or socioeconomic background, is entitled to a high-quality education like the one we strive to provide every day.

As we move toward the end of a school year that has been anything but “normal,” I hope each of our employees will pause a moment to reflect on all the challenges they have faced and then overcome during this extraordinary time. Our district and community are so tremendously blessed and thankful that you each have chosen to teach, lead and serve here in Cabell County. You are superheroes in the eyes of our students, and I believe every one of you is deserving of a cape!

Ryan S. Saxe is superintendent of Cabell County Schools.

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