Teacher Appreciation

May 6, 2021

On behalf of Teacher Appreciation Week, the following message was sent to Santiam Staff and is worthy of repeat for our community…


Dear Santiam Staff,

Never has a year been so challenging. Never have I been so proud.
I choose Santiam for many reasons, but the main reason is the people. I get to go to work with great people, and it makes all the difference.
This year I have had to make some the most challenging decisions I could have ever imagined, sometimes sticking my neck out there so far that it could have resulted in my head getting cut off (sorry for the visual, but it really felt like it). These decisions were sometimes against the norm or what others were saying could/should be done. We were the first in our region to get elementary back to school everyday, the first to get middle school and high school back into school everyday, we have our preschool running, our staff are teaching BOTH in-person and distance learning at the same time, and the list goes on. The decisions to do this were not made blindly or done in disregard for safety and such, but they were made because I know who I have standing with me. It was a big ask, but I know the Santiam spirit, determination and love for our kids. This would not have been possible or even attempted if it weren’t for the Santiam Staff. All I can say is… THANK YOU, SINCERELY!
We started this year with COVID restrictions, half-built schools and wildfire, and we finish the same year offering one of the most comprehensive education systems around. We had every reason to lag behind others this year, but that is not the Santiam way. Your work makes a difference and changes lives. It is admirable.

I need to give thanks to you for adapting and overcoming all the challenges thrown your way. Our teachers built a new way of teaching and learning multiple times this year. Just when they started to get into a routine, things changed again…and again. Your work and creativity has amazed me. There isn’t a group that I trust more. This year we must extend the thanks to everyone who made this possible. Everyone who works in our schools made this possible. Along with our fabulous certified staff of teachers and counselors, this work could not have happened without incredible amounts of support.
Our instructional assistants picked up computers and taught online. They drove student materials all over the district. They changed everything they had ever done and, on a dime, did new work… and did it well.
Our office staffs and district staff had to change the way we did nearly everything. Our work is to support teachers and families, and adapting to that need took a lot of thought and dedication. They did a great job… and they had to put up with me.
Our custodial staff wore the burden of sanitizing and keeping our facilities clean and safe. And they moved us into new facilities DURING all this. They stepped it up and have done a fabulous job.
Our kitchen staff have had to change the way we served lunches countless times and even delivered lunches to any kid in our district, all over our district.
Our admin shared the burden with me. Extra hours, extra stress, exhausting work. They brought ideas, solutions, and support. This couldn’t have happened without them.
Our board members held strong to the principles of our community, while also supporting us and our work. The issues of the year were all new and they put faith in us to do it.

Sorry this was so long, yet it is only part of the reason why Santiam is such an amazing place. Some days are still tough and continually seem to change, but our future is bright. We have already accomplished so much in such challenging times. We have much to be thankful for. Looking forward, I see great ideas, new programs, improvements, a beautiful new campus, new staff and even greater potential on the horizon. Never have I been so proud. Thank you for all you have done. It is appreciated.
Todd Miller, Superintendent