On Wednesday, Jan. 6, like most of you, my smartphone lit up in the afternoon with text messages about the mob that descended upon the U.S. Capitol. As I checked online news sites, my heart sank when I saw the photos and video of this incomprehensible violent breach of a sacred American institution. Suddenly, the enchantment of the Christmas season has given way to disturbing images of the Capitol under assault by its own people. My immediate thought was, what do our children think about this troubling event?

When we turn our attention to our children during such a trying time – as you all are, fielding their profoundly difficult questions – we wonder how we can best help them to understand. And the answer is clear: be there for them. Listen to them. Pull them in closer and hug them tighter. Answer their questions with sensitivity and directness. Reassure them that their country has always risen to existential challenges. We cannot hide the fact that sometimes adults do some terrible things. But we can show them a better way.

Deep in our hearts we all know that we are called as parents to be models of best behavior. To form our children’s hearts as compassionate adults-in-the-making. To impart an endless curiosity about our world. And to ensure that they become critical thinkers who are capable of discerning right from wrong for themselves as they navigate their lives and become parents themselves.

As you know, here at ICS we hold up The Irvington Way as our school community’s guiding light for us all to aspire to be better people. We do it by being respectful, responsible, safe, involved, and focused. In light of the day of infamy that occurred in our nation’s capital last week, we can all rise to the occasion by recommitting to being decent human beings. Especially for the sake of our children.

Tim Mulherin, CEO, Irvington Community Schools