David O’Shields: The Beauty of Spring.

Eastside Eagles planted tulips in October for Red Ribbon Week, which is every October and is used to remind students to stay “Drug Free.” These beautiful blooming tulips are not only reminding students to make healthy choices by remaining drug free, but they are also a great reminder that we as parents, schools, and communities are often “planting seeds” of learning in our students that will develop into beautiful outcomes and a better world. Eastside students, staff, and parents have continued to rise above the past year’s adversity, and we are thankful for our Eastside family.

As we look at it, Spring is all around us. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and there's warmth in the air and more light in the day. 

Without question we are moving inexorably forward. So it is with seasons ... the writer of Ecclesiastes was correct when they said, “To everything there is a season …”

Some people love summer, others fall, many prefer spring ... and I guess there are a few odd ducks who like winter (though in South Carolina we rarely ever have a real winter).

So it is with school years! We have quarters known as nine weeks. We have grades through which students move.

We love order and yet we relish novelty.

Spring sports are in full swing at the middle and high schools, academic and SO teams are in prime competition mode, classes are furiously striving to cover the standards by the end of this protracted year.

Yes, it seems all is right with the world.

But is it?

We have come from a year-long winter of sorts involving remote learning, mask wearing, social distancing, and PPE purchasing all because of a life-altering pandemic, COVID.

My pastor at Broad Street United Methodist Church said Sunday, we must ‘lean in and listen” to the lessons life presents us. COVID has changed us all ... either for better or for bitter. I like to think life’s lessons from the past year have taught us to appreciate our families, to appreciate the “freedoms” we often took for granted, and to accept the responsibility for all of our brothers and sisters...even those with whom we completely disagree.

You see, Reverend Keck, pastor at Broad Street, used the reference from the book of John for us all to see ourselves in the role of Mary or “the beloved disciple” during the crucifixion.

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19: 25 - 27)

You see, regardless of one’s spiritual predilections, the intent of the above is really something far more than a religious text, it is a moral commandment. Care for others. Simple really yet impossibly hard on the other hand.

What about those “others” whom we have little in common with? What about “those people?”

Seems to me we are to display compassion and understanding...people have been markedly changed by COVID...either by disruptions in their day-to-day routines or loss of employment, or loss of a family member.

The Great Teacher taught us love in its purest form is unconditional. It doesn’t come with a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, or us vs. them label. Love just is.

Education is a great thing, schooling is remarkably important but the telltale sign of a life well-lived is what we have done for our fellow man.

It’s Spring. New life is evident. Cast off your personal misery and comfort those who have no solace; help those who have no help, be a friend to those who are friendless.

May it be so!


Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of District 56 Schools.

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