Dear Benicia Community,

As I write to you, multi-colored leaves are falling from the trees and intermingling with the rain. The sky is covered with grey, puffy clouds and there is a chill to the air, adding a kind of freshness to everything. This is my favorite season as time seems to slow down a little bit, as we head into the holidays and are reminded of those aspects of our lives that really matter.

Growing up, the holidays were always a big deal in my family. My mother did an amazing job of ensuring that we all felt loved, appreciated and cared for. This was no small feat, considering there were six of us kids – five boys and one girl. Somehow, amidst the busyness of our lives and the myriad squabbles over who drank all the milk, used all the hot water, or demanded to ride in the front seat of the old station wagon, she stressed the importance of nurturing gratitude and appreciation for one another.

My father held those same beliefs, and before every Thanksgiving dinner, as we all sat before a beautifully set table and a skillfully carved turkey (my father’s one skill in the kitchen – love you Dad!), he asked each of us to share something we were thankful for. This task was particularly challenging during the teenage years, as one’s focus can be so much on the self. While it sometimes felt a little staid, we all participated – you pretty much did not have a choice with Dad.

I remember to this day some of what my siblings shared at that table over the years, and one thing in particular, when one of my siblings said he was proud to be my big brother. This was a shock to me because, at the time, I believe we were engaged in our own little war with each other over something trivial. Had my father not taken that moment to have us pause and reflect, I might not have known how my brother actually felt. We don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving dinner to take a moment and reflect, but it is certainly a powerful moment when we do.

While just four months into the school year, the students and staff have accomplished a great deal. I always think this week arrives at just the right time. Everyone appears to need some time to recharge, reflect and consider those aspects of our lives that really matter – most importantly, our families, friends and loved ones.

I have my own sense of gratitude in the honor of serving as your superintendent. In a recent Board meeting, I provided the Trustees with an update on my one-hundred day plan. It was a pleasure to share the many strengths I have observed in this great district and potential areas of growth.

As we move forward together, I will continue to stress the three elements that I consider to be the cornerstones of effective schools and school districts. These are: a student-centered focus, safe and welcoming environments, and forward thinking principles and practices. Each element is the foundation for the key components that go into making up a world-class school district. This is the work we are after in BUSD. I strongly encourage, support, and appreciate your partnership in this most important and noble effort.

I wish all of you a restful, safe and joyous Thanksgiving. If you can, take a moment to pause and consider how fortunate we are to live and work in this great town and to do our best, every day, on behalf of our students.

Sincerely, Dr. Young