What It Will Take: Moving Forward


Over the many years, the message has stayed the same

Over the last five months, I’ve been fortunate enough to conduct three hours worth of interviews, and spend large portions of time writing a series of stories on all the work and effort undertaken by Lucia Mar Unified School District to navigate the challenges brought on by the Coronavirus. 

Students provided an especially thought-provoking response to the events of Covid and the effects of returning to in-person school after being online during a bus ride along with Superintendent Fawcett. 

He asked the students if they were excited to go to school to see their friends or to learn new things. They answered no to both. The students were excited because they would be receiving breakfast, something they didn’t have at home. 

While there is a strong push by some to say that the role of a school is to simply teach the three Rs of learning, the last couple of years have shown us that what is required of the moment is much more. 

Our schools have become the social safety net needed to protect, lift up, and guarantee everyone a chance at pursuing their dreams. Schools are often the one-stop location where the most vulnerable receive social services, whether that be guaranteeing that every student can have a free nutritious meal, or that students have the tools and technology they need to succeed through the chromebook program. These fall out of the narrowly defined scope of “teaching,” but currently, they are necessary. Throughout the pandemic, the district acted as a mobile safety net. They went door to door when called for, provided internet, food, and much more, and ultimately built the fundamental foundation needed for students to receive a fair shot. This is a role that should and must be continued. We have to help students in any way possible, so they can be absorbent pupils and access the full potential of their education. 

Clockwise: Hillery Dixon, Paul Fawcett, Jennifer Handy, Jim Empey. The cabinet of Lucia Mar (Melih Dookie)

Lucia Mar is home to around 1,000 employees. These individuals go beyond their titles of teachers, counselors, bus drivers, food service workers, administrators, aides, custodians, etc. They step up in unimaginable ways. They are the backbone of what enables a persistent path on the pursuit of progress for their students. School employees are the reason why schools can create the future, and our school campuses are the places where all employees present choose service to others over themselves.  As a result, it’s our duty to celebrate, honor, and support them in any capacity when we can. 

Over the past two years, the public servants of the school system have been scrutinized much more than prior years in their careers. It’s important to make sure that our public institutions remain accountable to the public, but this must be a coherent conversation; one where the public is knowledgeable about what the school district can and cannot control in regards to state and federal regulations and one that is open to any ideas that bring us all closer to the common goal of making sure that everyone is educated.

Lucia Mar’s post-pandemic goal: making education better than ever (Melih Dookie)

Taking time to understand the full job description and challenges of each employee at this school district is important, and every employee deserves a thank you for all their hard work and dedication to navigating the difficult times from the last school years. Their persistence in helping all students in multitudes of ways is something that is truly inspiring.