Loeber delivers powerful message at Chamber Luncheon
Jenks Public School Director of Communications and incoming Jenks Chamber of Commerce Chair of the Board of Directors Rob Loeber delivered a strong message of unity Wednesday at the July Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.
Loeber spoke about the “Return to Learn” plan Jenks Public Schools unveiled Monday in a special School Board Meeting and the mixed response the district has received since the announcement.
Loeber also touched on how inspired he was by the support the local business community has shown JPS, and how much the Chamber of Commerce and Chamber members have done to help get Jenks through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The last couple of days at Jenks Public Schools have been pretty interesting,” Loeber said. “Monday night, we unveiled some of our plans for the upcoming school year, our ‘Return to Learn’ options for our students and families, and some of the ways our district is helping to reduce the risk, slow the spread, and mitigate the virus.
“Leading up to Monday, my job as Communications Director, was to prepare this messaging. I was getting ready for our board meeting Monday night and my wife asked me how I was feeling about all of this. She asked me how I thought this was going to go? And if I was anxious, nervous, or feeling stressed.”
Loeber said he thought about it for a second and he said the whole thing made him a little sad.
“It makes me sad because obviously these are not the types of decisions we want to make in order to educate 12,000 students,” Loeber said. “But also, the state of the world in 2020, the current climate on social media, I knew the plans we were going to be putting out there would be just one more point for people to disagree on, and sure enough, from the moment our board meeting started, until the time it ended about three hours later, the comment section on Facebook live was on fire.”
Loeber said the district saw a mixed response following the unveiling of the “Return to Learn” plan.
“We were praised and told we were complete idiots all in the span of 30 seconds,” Loeber said. “We had people calling each other ‘Karen’ and giving snarky replies to each other and quoting scientific evidence and citing articles. There were some insults mixed in and people said, ‘Why are we even having school? Just wipe down the desks. It is not that hard.’ Somebody also said, ‘As long as you don’t cancel football, I don’t care what you do.”
Loeber said the response from the Monday announcement goes in line with what is happening across the country right now.
“People were telling us what a great job we were doing, and others were ripping us to shreds,” Loeber said. “It really goes in line with the rhetoric that we see so much these days. There does not seem to be much of a middle ground. Everybody is so dug in and entrenched on their side and so uncompromising on so many issues.
“None of this is really a surprise to me, nor is it a surprise to anyone else. It did make me think, is there actually anything that we can agree on anymore? We seem so divided and so dug in with our passionate beliefs and convictions.”
Loeber said he then started to think about a certain group of people in the Jenks community.
“I started to think about this group of people right here,” Loeber said. “The people who are gathered here today in this room. I do not know all your names. I do not know all your stories. I certainly do not know all your political or religious leanings.
“However, I feel confident in saying there are certain things we can all agree on. We can agree that we want what is best for our kids and for our families. We can agree that we care about this community and the people in it. We want our businesses to succeed. We want our schools to be strong. We want to create an opportunity and a better future for the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.”
Loeber stated as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, you are invested in the community.
“We love this place and we love what this place represents because it is home and we can all agree we can do right by each other,” Loeber said. “These are the things that you are declaring as members of the Jenks Chamber of Commerce. You are invested in this place because you care about this place. You believe in building those partnerships and forming those relationships because when you do, you know that your customers see a benefit and you know our economy grows stronger.”
Loeber said people have different beliefs, but that does not mean they can’t get along.
“I am sure there are some people in this room that you would fundamentally disagree with on just about every issue,” Loeber said. “But, I would be willing to bet you agree on the reasons why you love this community, on the reasons why you decided to raise your kids here and on the reasons why you decided to start a business here.”
Loeber said Jenks Public Schools is a well-respected district because the community is invested.
“One of the things that makes our school district so well-respected around the state is because nearly every business owner and every organization in this community is invested in the success of our schools,” Loeber said. “You all have agreed together, as the business community, that strong schools and private businesses are not mutually exclusive. Those are things that go hand in hand. Your agreement on all those principals I just mentioned has brought you together today.”
Loeber said when he looks out among the Chamber members, he sees unity and not division.
“That is something,” Loeber said. “We are here together, and I think we can agree on all those things. It gives me hope because I do not see division in this room. I see a lot of buy in to what Jenks represents and what we want it to become. I think we can also agree that we need that buy in now more than ever. We need a little bit of agreement now more than ever.”
Loeber said being on the same team and working together is vital to the success of the community.
“I would encourage all of you that when you see your fellow Chamber member, or your neighbor, or your business partner, think to yourself, there is a person that I agree with,” Loeber said. “We are on the same side. We are the same team. We are both doing our part to make this place a little better today than it was yesterday.”