There is a brilliant song by a group of Bluegrass artists from North Carolina called “Deeper Shade Of Blue”. They sing under Mountain Fever Records and released an album in 2018 with a hit song of the same title called “Steam”.

As I mulled over what to write about from week to week, this song popped into my head. It occurred to me from one word, “there was enough steam to whistle, but not enough to pull the train.”

This feeling is very much in line with JRR Tolkien’s quote: “I feel thin, a little stretched out, like butter scraped on too much bread.”

We all know the feeling of bone fatigue. I’m talking about the kind of fatigue where no amount of rest or sleep will leave you feeling caught up.

Although Tolkien’s quote is good, I love these bluegrass lyrics because they are so real and raw. It is the feeling of wanting to do something but being too weak to do it.

I’m sure most of us, if not all, can relate. We can all easily think of that person screaming at the top of their lungs that something needs to be done, but they can’t be found when it’s time to get to work. Sometimes we might even have been that person … I know I did.

As I quickly review the past year and think of some of the highlights, I think of many of our Victoria ISD employees and our students. It seems that some people often don’t use their steam to whistle because they are so busy using all of their steam to pull the train.

Over the past year, I have seen countless occasions where our staff have worked tirelessly to make things better for our students or for our community.

I can think of a lot of phone and text conversations before 5 a.m. as we try to get the buses out and the open buildings and the countless people doing this work out.

I think of phone calls and texts that arrive after midnight when students may be in danger or for safety reasons.

I think of the directors who come on weekends to mop up the water that passes through our roofs.

I think back to the weekends the staff showed up to help feed our community during the ice storm.

I think of those teachers, whose workload nearly doubled during the pandemic as they tried to balance face-to-face and distance teaching at the same time.

I think of the students who went around every obstacle they encountered to try to find ways to make what has been an incredibly difficult year as normal as possible.

We are truly a 24/7 operation in many ways. It’s those students and staff who don’t complain when things don’t go well, but roll up their sleeves and help keep the train going.

To these students and staff, thank you. While it’s easy to sit down and whistle, you got the demanding job done and you got the steam to pull the train. You know it was difficult, and you know we needed a hero to step in and help.

For some, you’ve been so busy pulling the train that you haven’t gotten the recognition you rightly deserve. To you, I want to say thank you.

Congratulations to our seniors and their families.

Quintin Shepherd is the superintendent of the Victoria Independent School District.

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