To the Editor:

As the school year is winding down, I would be remiss to not thank those involved with working through the last 15 months keeping our kids in school and on an educational path, albeit quite different from what we are used to. As educational leaders, you have been forced to make tough decisions, and in the case of COVID, without a roadmap or past experience to build or learn from.

Thank you Chatham School District leaders for having the fortitude to keep driving forward when town residents and state legislators were calling you out for considering bringing kids back into school. Thank you for adapting the virtual experience and moving quickly into a hybrid learning environment. Thank you for staying flexible as the pandemic ebbed and flowed. Thank you for keeping your in-person meetings OPEN to the public throughout the pandemic so we as parents can and did have a real dialog and things actually were being done and residents were being heard.

To Mike LaSusa, our Superintendent, and his Administrative leaders and staff across each of our Chatham schools, THANK YOU for the hard work of getting and keeping our schools and our programs open throughout this pandemic. It was clear early on, and data supports it today, keeping our kids in school was best for the continued education, for their mental health, and was one of the safest places in avoiding COVID. 

To Peter Daquila, our School Business Administrator, and your exceptional staff for getting all our schools set with PPE & maintaining a safe & effective environment for our kids during COVID, THANK YOU.

To our Board of Education, our elected volunteer parents who take the brunt of town criticism about virtually anything, in the hopes of allowing Mike and his talented team to stay focused on delivering the best education possible for our children, THANK YOU. As I’ve said to many, unless or until you sit or sat on the BOE, Council, Committee etc.. you will never be able to view and assess the entire picture and enormity of it but rather only a tiny sliver of something that you may be passionate about but does not always translate to the greater good of the students.

To our teachers who worked through COVID, especially during the challenging period where so much was unknown, vaccines weren’t yet available, and this new thing called virtual learning was thrown on your plate, THANK YOU. We sadly watch and empathize with parents and kids in school districts north of us where schools have remained closed for in-person learning the past 14 months regardless of the facts, where parents are left with having to take their battle to the courts to challenge the NJ Teachers union and pushing through recalls of BOE members. For those organizations, it clearly was never about the kids. Thank you Chatham teachers for staying focused on our kids!

As always, THANK YOU to all our great support organizations i.e. PTO, CEF, Booster & many more who have made the learning and living experience for all our kids across the Chatham School District exceptional during what have been extreme times.

Jim Lonergan