Last week we lost a member of our WSD family. The death of Lynn Ibos was sudden and tragic as she was found after school in her classroom where she spent countless hours working to prepare lessons and tending to the needs of her students. By all accounts, Mrs. Ibos was a phenomenal educator who had the ability to reach and inspire students at every level. She knew the value of meeting a child’s needs both inside and outside the classroom and she leaves a lasting legacy at Prairie View and with everyone who had the benefit of knowing her. I’m extremely proud of Prairie View staff and families who immediately rallied and wrapped their loving arms around each other and their students. Their professionalism and grace in the face of adversity has been heartwarming and inspiring to witness. It was also wonderful to see how the larger WSD community gathered to support the Prairie View family. Hundreds turned out for the moving vigil in her honor, including staff and families from other schools, former students and caring community members. It will be an extensive journey of grieving for all who knew and loved Lynn, but I’m confident that together as a caring community we will be strong and model the positive values that defined Lynn’s life of giving and kindness towards all.
Losing Lynn at a time when we are all grappling with how to make our schools safer for students and staff has me reflecting about every member of my team – all 2,562 full- and part-time employees who share a commitment to our students. For nearly two decades, we have added hundreds of students every year, asking more and more of our dedicated employees. Finding an effective work/life balance is already challenging for many, and on top of that, shouldering our own concerns and those of parents, students and our communities following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, has weighed heavily on many of us. Now we have suddenly lost a member or our own team far too soon. Thank you for your support. We need it and we rely on it. No one worries more about our children every day than the adults in our schools. They are the heart and soul of the WSD. My message to all our employees has been, and will continue to be: please, please, please, take care of yourselves and ask for help when you need it. We are all human, and we all need a little extra support from time to time. We cannot meet the needs of our students and families if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
I am personally grateful and proud to live in this wonderful, caring community. Despite the growth, each of our schools and each of our municipalities that make up our great District is a family. I’m confident that the strength of our caring families will see us through so we can continue to grow, learn and lead together.