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They’re Back!

Webster CSD welcomed returning students on Sept. 10



Webster Central Schools are only days into the new school year, and educators and administrators are excited to welcome back their students - especially after a long hiatus dating back to March due to COVID-19.

While some teachers are welcoming back their students via virtual instruction, others have the pleasure of seeing their students’ smiling faces in person.

As always, Superintendent Carmen Gumina shared his back-to-school message to kick off the 2020-21 school year, but in a video-only format.

Opening with a chorus of Muppets singing, Gumina’s message highlights the concept that this school year is a “bridge year.” He explains that the goal is to get “from here to there,” meaning from a cautious, COVID-centric status quo to a future where we can all feel safe and go back to our “old normal.”

Gumina builds on the bridge analogy by taking viewers to his three favorite bridges in Webster. The first bridge is one near the pier at Webster Park, which is near his “mom’s bench.” Gumina sits with his father on the bench to tell some corny “Dad Jokes” before moving on to the second bridge.

The second bridge is also at Webster Park, over Mill Creek. Standing on this bridge, Gumina shares a quote by Dr. Brad Johnson - a former teacher and administrator, now a motivational speaker - who he follows on Twitter.

The quote: “Relationships before rigor. Grace before grades. Patience before programs. Love before lessons.”

Gumina adds “Compassion before criticism” to that list, which includes compassion for ourselves.

“We know that the next ten months, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be difficult,” says Gumina. “And we’re not going to be perfect…”

He adds, “Before you lay down a torrent of criticism on yourselves, just step back, take a breath, and show yourself some compassion. And a touch of grace. And a touch of patience as well. We’re going to get through this.”

Gumina’s third favorite bridge is at Whiting Road Nature Preserve, which is known as “Rick’s Bridge.” The bridge was named in honor of his older brother, Rick, who passed away unexpectedly about 8 years ago.

Rick was a 1975 Schroeder graduate; he later became a professor of statistics at Colorado State University.

Gumina says he remembers the hundreds of students that packed the lecture hall for Rick’s memorial service. Students talked about how Rick made them feel. His humor and his ability to connect with them and make them feel valued, empowered, and successful made them feel like he truly cared about them.

After listening to those students, Gumina considers the comparison of educators to real estate agents. The three most important words in real estate are location, location, location; the three most important words for educators are relationship, relationship, relationship.

“You have to reach a student’s heart before you reach their head,” says Gumina.

Talking to his dad, Gumina says, ironically, “Mom didn’t like bridges.” But just like his dad helped his mom going over a 7-mile bridge, WCSD can help its students cross the metaphorical bridge.

“We’re going to get over our bridge,” says Gumina. “And we’re going to do it together.”

The video ends with students singing “Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Vocalists were Tessa DeGrace, Isabelle Nitsch, and Hannah Rich of Webster Thomas High School, and Webster Schroeder High School students Sara Kidane, Tori Titarenko, and Lauren Farrow. Accompanist was Amanda vonRathonyi.

Check out some of the Tweets by Webster CSD educators, administrators, and parents commemorating the first week back at school.

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