By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hitting Home Stretch Of Challenging, Rewarding Year
Principally Speaking 2-9-22
A Varni PS pix
Anthony L. Varni

It is hard to believe that we have navigated the 2021-2022 school year to this point. It happens every year, but this year, in particular, what an accomplishment! I have shared this metaphor with our Dent Dragon staff and our various parent clubs, but every day seems like the movie Jumanji: I wake up and start hearing the rhythm of drums. (If you aren’t familiar with the movie, each time a new obstacle/challenge is about to appear, drums sound) For me, these “imaginary drums” indicate challenges for the day: COVID-19 hurdles, contact tracing classes, following protocols for quarantine, a last-minute substitute teacher(s), the air quality, the fog, and/or fill in the blanks of everyday life! The most remarkable thing remains, no matter the challenge of the day, we get through it because we know our kids need us to do so (in our schools and in our homes). They are the reason we all answer the drum, and we do it with a positive mindset.

Mindset has been a focus of our staff and students for several years now. Having a “Growth mindset” means that we look at challenges as opportunities to learn and grow from. We think of ways to figure out how we can achieve and succeed no matter what we may need to change. A “Fixed mindset” means that we are resistant to change and no matter what, we are stuck in our thinking and refuse to adapt to the challenge. It is possible to be both, and you can change from one mindset to the other depending on the challenge. Our students are the best example of this. Creating a moment for them to pause, express how they are feeling, look at all options, and learn from the experience is what makes education. We get to help our students determine whether or not they want to have a “Growth or Fixed mindset” depending on the situation and mood. We teach them how to be adaptable to change and respect others and their opinions. Even if they differ from ours.

I think we all can agree that navigating/adapting through three years of a national pandemic has caused multiple challenges in all of our lives. It has literally forced us all to change and adapt in ways that we’ve never dreamed to do so. How we “do school” has literally changed year to year and our students have been affected. Our teachers have been affected, our parents have been affected, our businesses have been affected, our family members have all been affected. But yet even though we have been affected, we choose to carry on. We know that we have no other choice but to do so; we are more present to “where our feet are.” (another true and popular phrase thanks to these times) The pandemic has taught me an appreciation of what I have and who I have in my life; you never know when or how that can change at a moment’s notice.

The 2019-2020 school year is a perfect example of this. One week we had school the next, we didn’t. I am proud to say that our students’ resilience through this pandemic has been nothing short of amazing! I look to them for inspiration when some of the days’ challenges seem too great. We get to see them play, learn, and grow on our campuses knowing that all the challenges that our teachers and parents have endured have made these educational moments and memories possible.

Kevin Bracy, a motivational speaker that we’ve been fortunate enough to invite to all of our district campuses states in his talks that “I see you!” meaning that you are important and you matter. “I see” our district office leaders, our school board, our dedicated and inspirational teachers, our amazing office staff, our administrators, our custodians, our bus drivers, our maintenance and repair team, our cafeteria team, our coaches (educational and athletic), our district nurses, our passionate and supportive parents, and most importantly our students who are our future. They are the focus of what we say and what we do. They are the ones that will hear those “drums” in the not-so-distant future. It is a privilege to be able to watch them dance to the rhythm of their drums daily and offer them a safe and special place to learn and enjoy being a kid.


Principally Speaking is a monthly article, contributed by principals from Escalon Unified School District sites, throughout the school year. It is designed to update the community on school events and activities.