Executive Director’s Message

Let me just start off by saying thank you. Thank you for trusting us.doc

We know it hasn’t come easy, and we know you probably trusted too easily in the past, and were let down. But let me assure you, we won’t let you down.

The truth is, we can’t let you down because it is impossible for us to lose. We have such amazing students, staff, and teachers, and our model is so fiscally sound, that is it impossible for us to lose. But I will tell you what can happen…we can fail.

We can fail miserably if you start to lose trust in us. Now, I’ll be the first admit that we’ll make mistakes. In fact, I probably make more mistakes than anybody.

But the point is that it’s impossible for us to lose if we always learn from our mistakes, and we hope that you see your life in a similar light.

We hope you realize that it really is never too late, that your past is not your future, and that you only need to be better than the person you were yesterday. We hope you don’t just realize that, we want you to know that – to feel it deeply in your soul. Know that it isn’t the end yet.

I had the honor of attending an English Language Development (ELD) class of immigrant women from Afghanistan, here at Highlands. Many of the women had only recently arrived in the United States, and they were all thanking me profusely for our support.

I kept accepting their gratitude the best I could, but I know that what we are doing here is a necessity and I don’t always feel that I should accept praise for what is needed.

Finally, one woman grabbed an interpreter because she felt I wasn’t understanding their level of gratitude. Through an interpreter she explained to me that most of the women in that room had never been seen or viewed as valuable or worthy of an education.

She continued that while some of the older women of Afghanistan can remember the Golden Age, not long ago in the 1960-70’s, when women could attend college and were treated as equals, many, many women can only conceptualize a time like this as a distant memory told, and re-told, to them by their mothers and grandmothers. “Now they can see it,” she whispered, and I shivered.

While I’ve known since the beginning how important our service is, this was the first time it shook me to my core.

A time of justice and equality was stripped away from an entire group of people, and we have been able to give it back to them. That is all we can hope for you – each and every one of you.

Whatever has been stripped away from you, let us help you get it back. We are on your team, and we will fight for each of you to get back what is rightfully yours, which is an education, a job, and a better quality of life. You deserve that.

Murdock “Doc” Smith
murdock.smith@hccts.org