A Message of Gratitude for Teachers from Birch CEO Matt Sturiale

September 13, 2021 

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” A.A. Milne 

Dear Teachers and All Education Staff: 

September is a month of new beginnings. In our field, it means a new school year for the staff who work at and the children that attend our schools. It is a time for change; a time for beginning a new class or a new school. Our mission – empowering individuals with autism and developmental disabilities to lead full lives – comes to life each day through you – our frontline Education staff. You provide hope for families and inspire our children, adolescents, and young adults to learn, and to thrive, even under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. You encourage our students to be brave, strong, and smart. You inspire them to believe in themselves. 

Monday, September 13, 2021, is the first day of school for students across New York City, including those in our early childhood and school-age programs. For many it is the first time students and teachers will join each other in a classroom five days a week after more than a year of remote or hybrid instruction. It is a day many of you have looked to with mixed feelings of anticipation and concern. Many of our families are feeling the same. However, we are all committed to working together to ensure our buildings are safe, you have the resources and equipment needed, and keeping everyone safe and healthy.   

While this past year has been challenging, I anticipate that we will experience a new year with different challenges as we continue to navigate our way through COVID and the impact it has had on our students, families, and each other. I expect you may be required to pivot from classroom teaching to remote learning. I hope you’ll be able to integrate the new ways of teaching learned into your classrooms, individual sessions, and with families. Communicating with our families and supporting our students in new ways will be the focus of some of our discussions. We must also be talking about how to best support you. I recognize how difficult this has been and appreciate you for your talent, flexibility, and commitment to our students and their families. I also know that together we can be brave, strong, and smart for our students, families, and one another.   

Thank you for your extraordinary efforts in supporting our students and families. It continues to be a source of motivation and inspiration. I will continue to work on behalf of our students, families, and YOU to ensure we have the tools we need to provide great learning experiences for our students. Let’s continue to come together for what we do – provide a quality education for those who need us.  

Thank you and have a wonderful first week of school!  

With respect and admiration, 

Matt Sturiale
President & CEO
Birch Family Services