Daniel Ludvigson
Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Public Schools

Nature is a wonderous and peculiar thing. As it was put in the popular Jurassic Park movies, “Life will find a way.” Nature has many examples of bouncing back from adversity. One that comes to mind are the great redwood forests. We have learned that forest fires are not only beneficial but a necessary part of the health of a redwood forest. Closer to home prairies need this cycle of growth and starting anew as well. Challenges are a part of what shapes us. They become a part of our experiences and understanding. I have often said, “calm seas do not make skilled sailors.” Without challenge, growth cannot happen. It lacks that driving need that serves as the fuel for change. Coming off of the pandemic I think it best to stop and reflect on this idea.

Many districts were set back. Learning was halted, plans were discarded, and losses were experienced in many ways. Many of us learned far more about technology than we would ever care to. We were forced to “find a way.” This was an event that defined the generations it touched. This will cause changes, that is a given. What those changes look like, only time will tell.

In times of new beginnings, there is opportunity. Despite the uncertainty and anxiety that comes with the unknown it also presents a time for new growth. We can learn things and make changes that would not have happened if we were left without that anxiety and uncertainty. Opportunity is often in plain sight, you just have to adjust your perspective to see it.

So, take those challenges and adversities that life has thrown at you and use them to drive a positive change in your life and the lives of those around you. Perhaps your experiences with depression allow you to connect and empathize with others that are experiencing it. Perhaps being forced to teach in a new way allowed you to learn techniques that allow you to touch students’ lives in deeper ways. Perhaps all the arguing and conflict that has plagued us during these past two years has honed your ability to navigate those difficult conversations. Sometimes the purpose we seek in our experiences is the purpose we give it. Sometimes perspective is what reveals opportunity.

Remember you can be the difference that allows others to grow back stronger from their adversities. By standing together we can build strong relationships and develop trust that could not have existed without adversity fueling it. We can learn from the experiences of others and we can teach others about our own experiences. We all have knowledge, skills, and talents that can be one piece of something special and unique. Our forests do not have to regrow alone. Our cycles of regrowth can help us as families, schools, and communities come back stronger.

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