Superintendent’s Corner Column

Diversity in Action: Reflections on Community Strength

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu

January 19, 2024

As we navigate the rich tapestry of cultures that make up our school district, I am filled with gratitude and pride for the incredible journey we are all on together. Today, I want to share a personal reflection that speaks to our commitment to diversity and the boundless possibilities within each student.

Forty-three years ago, I was a wide-eyed kindergartener stepping into this thing we call school for the first time as an English as a Second Language (ESL) learner. So much has changed in how we support and teach our multilingual learners. Reflecting on that time, I am reminded of the challenges and triumphs that shaped my journey. My early years were marked by the dedicated support of ESL teachers and all of the educators who recognized the potential within me. Their commitment laid the foundation for my academic growth and instilled in me a deep appreciation for the power of education.

My parents immigrated to the United States in the 1960’s and 1970’s. My mother and family played a crucial role in my development. Their unwavering support, encouragement, and belief in the value of education propelled me forward. Their sacrifices and commitment to my dreams became the driving force behind my determination to succeed. It is a testament to the transformative impact that familial support can have on a student’s life.

Discipline became my ally in the pursuit of knowledge. Learning a new language presented challenges, but I overcame the linguistic barriers through dedication and hard work. This discipline, fostered in those early years, continues to be a guiding principle in my life and serves a purpose in my role as an educator.

Opportunities, both big and small, presented themselves along the way. I seized them, most days, with an open heart and a hunger for knowledge. Each opportunity became a stepping stone, propelling me further towards my goals. Today, as I stand before you as your Superintendent, I carry the lessons learned and the experiences that shaped my journey from ESL student to the educator and person I have become.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending numerous events celebrating our diverse community, including our International Food Celebration. The joy and unity that filled the room with our students and staff were a testament to the strength of our multicultural community. These moments reaffirm our commitment to creating an inclusive environment where every student feels seen and heard, welcomed and accepted, and empowered to thrive. These foundational ingredients support a child’s future success and trajectory with the belief and encouragement that they can accomplish their dreams. That is hope.

I want to express my gratitude to each member of our community — students, parents, teachers, and staff. Your collective efforts make a difference and contribute to the vibrant and nurturing atmosphere that defines our school district. Together, let us continue to embrace diversity, celebrate achievements, and provide every student with the support and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.

Thank you for being so committed and joining us on our journey toward continued success that supports a bright future for every child.

All my best,

Dr. Rui Dionisio

Superintendent of Schools

MULTI-LINGUAL LEARNING (MLL)

A special thank you to Mrs. Liliana Lopez, Supervisor of World Languages, Multilingual Learners, and Music, and to all of our MLL teachers, educators, and staff to support all of our MLL learners. As a district, we celebrate and promote diversity. We are excited to share with you we have over 35 languages spoken by our students in our Multilingual Program and our families come from all over the world.

This year, our program has changed its name from English Language Learners (ELLs) to Multilingual Learners (MLs). The New Jersey Department of Education has updated our name and we embrace our new name. We continue to encourage our families to speak their home language and to have our students continue to learn their home language (read, write, listen, and speak) as well as other languages so they can graduate from our school district as Multilingual Learners. We know learning many languages is an asset and we are excited to promote our name change to the Fair Lawn Multilingual Learners Department.

The intention of the ML Messenger newsletters is to share important information about our Multilingual Learners program, program events, and other resources to help our families. We hope you have an opportunity to learn more about our programs.

October Newsletter

https://www.smore.com/jne18

November Newsletter

https://www.smore.com/x936k

December Newsletter

https://www.smore.com/f2xgat

Please feel free to email Mrs. Lopez with questions at any time in any language. We wish our families and students much success this 2023 -2024 school year!

 

COFFEE & CONVERSATIONS

with Dr. Dionisio, Superintendent of Schools

Parents are welcome to join us for Coffee & Conversations with Dr. Dionisio, Superintendent of Schools, to discuss the state of the district, points of pride to continue to celebrate, and areas of focus that will continue to help shape the future of the Fair Lawn Public Schools. Thank you to all of our parents who attended our session on January 11th. Please RSVP for future sessions by clicking the link below.