At a time when I might normally be sending out a lighthearted message reminding you to take time with family over the holidays, I find myself wrestling with the right words to write in the wake of this horrific tragedy. As I try to balance the need to celebrate all that we have with the depth of grief over what we have lost, I remember how quickly life can turn from one to the other—from gains to losses, from celebration to grief. Our hearts go out to the students, parents, family members, educators, administrators and community members of Newtown, who have been so deeply affected in the wake of these tragic events.

There are no easy answers for how we keep a tragedy, that for so many of us seems unthinkable, from occurring. For one child to grow into a young person so tormented is heartbreaking in and of itself, but that he then fixated on and succeeded in destroying the lives of so many young children and adults is beyond comprehension. In a matter of a few minutes, he was able to strike fear in the hearts of millions, by destroying that which we hold most dear. We will never know all the things that led up to this moment, but in the end this is a human problem. One lost soul, holding power over the hearts and minds of many. We must pull together, put our minds together and find ways to create greater safety in our schools and our communities. We must find ways to reach young a person so deeply troubled, to keep them from driving us to the very isolation that breeds such horrifying acts.

Toward this end, we must celebrate and recognize the heroes of this day, and every day. There are people, young and old, who rise to the occasion to ensure that the children across our state and in this country receive whatever protection and educational, social, and mental health services they may need. We must support them in doing this most difficult work.

As you close out this year and head into the next, whether you are with family, friends, or co-workers, take time out to listen, to show them that you care. It can make all the difference.

Thank you for all you have done to make sure all Connecticut children have an exceptional education. We are grateful to you for your support and encouragement and look forward to working with you in the coming year.

Warmest wishes in the New Year,

Rae Ann

Resources: Our friends at ConnCAN have also created an online list of resources that may be of assistance to you in supporting the Newtown community or talking to members of your own family or community.