As school communities across the Commonwealth return to their buildings for a new school year, I wanted to take a chance to officially welcome you to the 2023-24 school year.
While many of you know me as the Secretary of Education, or maybe from my time as Superintendent at Reading or Lower Merion, what you may not know is that I started my career as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed English teacher when I was 23. Although a number of things have changed since then, the warm, fuzzy feeling I get about a new school year has always stayed the same. As a former educator and administrator, I know how exciting this time of year is for students, teachers, parents, and administrators alike. Classrooms that sat empty over the summer months are once again becoming bright, shining places of growth, learning, and inspiration.
As we flip on our classroom light switches, crack open fresh textbooks, and sharpen our brand new pencils, I hope you remember to treat yourselves kindly this year. Lean on your classmates, colleagues, and friends, work hard, make memories, and don't forget to have fun.
To our educators, you are the ones lighting the way for future generations, and I cannot thank you enough. Just like you and I grew alongside our teachers, you and your students will grow together. No matter what subject or grade you teach, you are impacting generations to come. The care, attention, and support you give your learners today will pay dividends on their future lives and careers. Thank you for all that you do for learners of all ages throughout the Commonwealth.
To our administrators and school staff, thank you for all the support you give to students and teachers, and for the crucial role you play in supporting the school system and all its functions. You, along with our educators, make up the backbone and heart and soul of our school ecosystems. Keep your head and heart aligned, be intentional about the work you're doing, keep in mind the diverse needs of the students you serve, and respond with kindness and compassion at every turn.
To our students, you are the future nurses, engineers, welders, social workers, and educators of the Commonwealth; endless possibilities await you. As we settle into this new school year, be confident and know that you can do anything you set your mind to. Things may not always be easy, but you have the tools and skills necessary to overcome any obstacle you come across. I know you will work hard and learn a lot this new school year. Be kind to your teachers, be kind to your peers, and be kind to yourselves.
So with that, welcome to the 2023-24 school year! I am so excited to see what each and every one of you accomplishes this year and will be right there cheering you on every step of the way. On behalf of the entire Pennsylvania Department of Education, you got this!