Certainty in Uncertain Times


A book I read once described modern life as “permanent white water.” The only white water rafting I’ve done was on a pretty tame stretch of river in Colorado with my family many years ago. We were never really in any danger, but there was still a lot of unpredictability and excitement. For a short time this is great, but as time stretches on, uncertainty can wear on us. The thing is, COVID-19 pandemic aside, there are many things we can’t be certain of even though we like to think we are in control. On that Colorado river, it was a comfort to have life vests and an experienced guide with us.


It is a constant battle not to let external factors dominate our mindset, especially in a 24/7 news cycle and social media world. In this season of “social distancing,” people are seeking connection, and the news and social media are ways we do that. So, how can we stay aware, behave responsibly, and appreciate the challenges without letting the cares of this world wear us down and defeat us?


This white water we are in will not go away once the COVID-19 virus passes. Life is complicated, full of challenges, and fast-moving. We can’t be sure of what the next challenge is, but we can hold on tight to our life vests, which are our values. I see people in Indianola doing this, living their values, as they offer to shop for elderly people, write to people in care centers, commit to supporting local businesses, conduct church services remotely, and reach out to check on each other. As a school district, we are holding onto our values, too. Providing lunches to students and additional food to families through school food pantries reflects our value of providing students and families what they need. Sharing educational resources during the school closure is a way the district emphasizes the importance of continuous learning. Individual buildings and teachers are reaching out, too, because they value connection. The school board has ensured that hourly employees will continue to be paid during the school closure because we value our staff. Acting in ways consistent with our values is one way of having certainty in uncertain times.


There is so much in life we cannot control, but we do get to choose our attitude. If you haven’t ever read it before, I encourage you to read Charles Swindoll’s thoughts on attitude (linked here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/5139.Charles_R_Swindoll ). Fixating on, or worrying about, things that we cannot control can be exhausting, and it accomplishes nothing. On the other hand, having a great attitude and a focus on things greater than oneself can be incredibly powerful and can have ripple effects. We all know this; “paying it forward” is part of our national lexicon.


Without delving into my personal beliefs in this setting, understanding that each individual has his/her own life vest, there are things I am certain of in these uncertain times:


  1. Indianola is an incredible community with a lot of caring, giving people.
  2. Indianola CSD will continue to serve our students and families as well as we can.
  3. We will make it through this current challenge and have an opportunity to emerge smarter and stronger.
  4. We are always better together.


Please continue to check the district website, www.indianola.k12.ia.us , and district Facebook page for updates, information, and support. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your children’s teachers, principals, and other administrators with questions and ideas. I am very proud of how our school and community is pulling together to get through this. Thank you!


Superintendent Art Sathoff