We just listened to our church service online. It’s a special time in our week as we listen to our faith leaders provide their services in this day when we have limited gathering in our churches.

Spiritual nurturing and emotional health is so important as we go through this pandemic. COVID-19 attacks not only our physical health, but also our emotional and mental health. Job loss is at record numbers and, in many cases, fear has replaced hope and optimism. Where stress and anxiety is on the rise, the ability to find and receive the feeding of our faith and spiritual health is important.

We are thankful for the courage and commitment of the many frontline health care workers, for police and fire personnel, and for those essential services personnel that daily provide our needed goods and services.

As churches begin to reopen, our church leaders continue to provide their nurturing support of one’s faith, to help people sustain and go forward.

For many, the safest place to go in times of trouble is God’s house. In these challenging times, online church services have been provided so people of faith could continue to be connected to their churches.

It seems important to also recognize our pastors for their leadership and support and the role they play in helping find our way during such challenging times. We give thanks for you!

TEACHERS

As we reflect on the key roles played in this unique time, we see our educators stepping forward and continuing to make a difference for students and families, each and every day.

I look at teachers as builders of community. They are role models that deliver love and caring to so many young children, and in some cases, growing young adults.

They nurture and support, they coach and encourage, they may challenge students to do better and give them hope. They care for and, in some cases, cry, laugh with, or simply reach out to those that need help and support.

They may not always have the answer or be able to address the exact need, but they so often show they care and value each child, each student. Every day, they are responsible and respectful in carrying out their duties. They are generous with their time and energy and respond to the call of ‘How can you make a difference?’

Today our teachers mold our young children. They are charged with their growth and development. They are a huge part of why District 112 schools are looked at and rated so highly.

They are the stories that don’t capture the headlines, because it’s what teachers do, but these are the stories that make our district stand out for the good they do and the difference they make. It’s why the stories during this pandemic fill us with pride and respect, with gratitude and deep appreciation.

We have a son who is mentally handicapped. We will forever be thankful for the teaching staff, at a time when mainstreaming wasn’t embraced. Teachers in this district said, ‘Let’s try,’ and they forever touched the life of our son and our entire family. They showed they cared. That’s what teachers do every day.

Those that ride into our town to disrupt, cast doubt and create fears about our education system have no idea. Our teachers, our district, are ones to be valued and respected. To be proud of and to be encouraged and recognized for the quality job they do. They are builders of community both today and for tomorrow.

There are challenges, as they exist for all districts. But as you look at the return on our investment in our community’s future, it’s unlimited. It’s where we need to invest.

Partnering with the school district and our education system needs to be a priority for all cities. I’m proud of District 112 schools and its teaching staff and I respect its recent and present administrative leadership that have hearts that care.

I will always stand in partnering with those that will build up with a heart that cares, as opposed to tearing down. Although a challenge, it can be done with people who are builders of community, and we can learn a lot from teachers.

Bob Roepke is a former Chaska mayor.

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