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Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's In The Mail

There are multiple methods of communicating available to us today. School-age learners have grown up surrounded by the different forms - Instant Messaging; texting; cell phone; email; Skype, twitter, Facebook, and other social media; and several more resources. These channels offer rapid and mass exchanges of information, even conveying real-time visual transmissions. It seems like there's a revised or new and improved opportunity emerging on a weekly basis.

Our school district uses our website, weekly electronic newsletters, Facebook (PTO and Athletic Booster Club), mass email (School News Notifier) and the superintendent's blog as electronic examples of transmitting information. So we're not averse to adopting and exercising evolving forms of communication.

However, as old fashioned as it makes me appear, I still feel there remains room for postal deliveries - snail mail. I know, I know, that's so outdated....

I happen to believe that despite the various means of communicating that exist today, and maybe because of the ethereal nature of these forms of communicating, that a plain personal letter arriving unexpectedly in the mail box provides a unique and noteworthy surprise and sense of formality. I have elected to write congratulatory letters to deserving learners and staff members and distribute them via the postal system. What anyone over forty might remember, may very well be lost on those younger. I'm referring to people who grown up awash in technology, people who have rarely received a letter in the mail, much less anxiously awaited a delivery and raced to the mailbox at the sight of the post office vehicle. Hopefully, the novelty of such correspondence increases the the feeling of distinction.

If someone can invest the time and commit the energy to earn an award, an honor, or deserving recognition, then the least I can do is take a moment to express my appreciation and acknowledgement of the accomplishment in written form on official school letterhead. After all, it's difficult to hang an IM or a twitter expression on the refrigerator door at home for all to see. And, although Facebook allows you to communicate to countless "friends" all at once, you don't have something you can feel, and touch, and store away in a box of personal memorabilia.

In the last week or so I've sent off notes congratulating many learners for meeting performance standards for honor and high honor roll status; award winning art-work; outstanding musical presentations; acknowledgement as a member of a scholar/athlete team (and the coaches of the team); student of the month (and nominees); and a few more categories that escape my memory late at night after a board of education meeting. I want each recipient to feel special. I want it to mean something. I want them to know our district is grateful for their achievements. I want the message to be permanent and concrete, not something important for a short shelf life and disposed of and replaced to make room on the small cell phone screen for the next text or twitter or email. I want it to be shared again in the future when the recipient wishes to relive the experience once more.

I want the members of the Heatly School Community to understand that someone cares enough to take the time to communicate special and personalized messages of lasting meaning. It still matters.

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