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The Direct Connection

September 18, 2017

Good Monday morning, Teachers, Staff and Administrators,

Welcome back to school!  Today will be a very emotional day for some of our students.  Many of them have not eaten or slept well and have experienced the same stressors that we adults have felt.  If a student is having a great deal of difficulty adjusting, contact a school counselor or administrator and ask for help.  Creating a sense of safety and normalcy in the classroom is important every day, but especially after an event like this.


Adults need a sense of safety and normalcy as well.  Not only do our students need you--you need each other, and today’s return is a symbol that we care for each other and we are recovering.  Hurricane Irma has impacted all of us to some degree.  There are colleagues in each school community and district offices who are still without electricity and others who have damaged property.  If any of you struggle at some point in the coming days, do not carry the burden on your own--please go to a colleague or administrator and ask for help.  We will support each other and support our students as we begin to reestablish the routines of life.  Together we can do this!


We have a very special school district.  Unlike other Florida districts, during emergencies our schools are used as shelters and managed by the school district.  We opened 24 shelters, hosted more than 4,000 guests, and fed everyone three meals a day throughout the storm event.   The team at each shelter consisted of principals, assistant principals, district administrators, School Way Café managers and assistants, nurses, FMTs and GCA custodians.  Before and after the storm, our bus drivers transported guests.  Departments and district leadership operated the Field Operations Center and stayed in communication with every shelter for the storm’s duration.  After the storm, our facilities and maintenance teams, the USAs and our warehouse staff and drivers were at work.  More than 400 employees left their homes and families over the last 10 days to make coming back to school today possible.  I am grateful to each and every one of them for their sacrifice.  Thank you!


With appreciation, I welcome each of you back today.  Be determined to make this a week where we focus on our students and each other.


With love and respect,


Tom Russell


There are no greater treasures than the highest human qualities such as compassion, courage and hope.

Not even tragic accidents or disasters can destroy such treasures of the heart.

~Daisaku Ikeda


 James T. Russell

Superintendent of Schools


386/734-7190, extension 20210

Fax:  386/734-2842


Twitter:  @jrussell_t



The Direct Connection (2017-2018)

​ Direct Connection 1 -- 080817​​
Direct Connection 2 -- 081417

​ Direct Connection 3 -- 082817

Direct Connection 4 -- 091817


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