Sunday, August 22, 2010


It has been almost a month since I moved to Douglas. We just completed our second full week of school. I continue to be very busy between the district and home. But it is a different kind of busy which is hard to explain.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't meet someone who had a connection to my mom or has one to Teresa or talk to someone that I have known most of my life. It has been an amazing journey. I was thinking about the hectic month of July when I came down two different weekends to interview for this position. I haven't interviewed for a job in over 20 years and before that I interviewed for my teaching job and took the first one which was Gilbert. I have done many, many interviews over the years but I was always the one doing the interviewing.

The first interview was with the Governing Board. After
that, we met with some of the administrators in the district and then an open forum with teachers. The final interview was that Monday night at the Douglas High School auditorium. It was an open forum for the entire community. I must say I was a bit nervous for all of the interviews, but especially this one. In attendance to support were my family, my friend Susan, Gloria and Craig from Gilbert, and another friend from Bisbee.

The question came up about how do I relax after a stressful day. My response was that I had pugs and they are constant entertainment. But I added that I had just started riding a bicycle. I had purchased one in March and was riding quite
a bit in Gilbert. The only problem that I had was that once I got on the bike, I couldn't stop until I got home because I couldn't get back on the bike very well. So I had a route picked out where I didn't need to stop!! I knew that if I came to Douglas, that wouldn't work as there are quite a few stop signs around. So I purchased a trike because it is just like a bike but I would be able to stop. I shared this with the community forum. As I looked in the front row, my friend, Susan, who has been my friend since we were 14 was laughing so hard that I thought she was going to fall out of her seat!!!

My theory is that I am who I am and I needed to let them see that I do have a sense of humor!! Anyway, the proctor from the Arizona School Board Association suggested that if I got the job that the pugs and I might be asked to be in the Homecom
ing Parade with me riding my trike. We will see---haven't been asked that question as yet!!! The only problem is my trike is red and Douglas High colors are black and gold!!!
On the Friday before school started, all of the district employees met in the high school auditorium. The first hour was a breakfast and mingling and visiting with each other. It reminded me so much of Gilbert when it was sm
all. We then had introductions of new administrators and teachers. I had a half hour for my talk and those of you who know me know that I don't need much time to say what I want to say. I wanted to make sure that what I had to say would be well received and from my heart. I wanted the faculty and staff to know why I had come back to Douglas after all of these years.

Here is what I had to say that Friday morning:

Good morning and welcome to the 2010/11 school year. It i
s a pleasure for me to be standing before you this morning as the new superintendent of Douglas Unified School District #27. The last time that I was on this stage, I played the part of the titmouse in Alice and Wonderland and sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat." It was the first and only time that I have ever been involved in what might be called musical theater. As an elementary school student involved in choir, I had been asked by Sister Daria to mouth the words, so I won't be doing a rendition for you this morning!!!

I have to say it is so great to be back in my home town of Douglas, Arizona. My grandparents moved to Douglas in 1912 and purchased the house that I grew up in on 14th Street in 1918. It has been in our family for 92 years and I feel very fortu
nate to come back and live in this home. Even though my roots are in this house here in Douglas, we need to remember that our roots are in people, not places. The people of Douglas are what make this the wonderful community that it is.

I also feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity to be a part of this district. In the short two weeks that I have been here, I have felt very welcomed by so many of you. I have been so impressed by the dedication to the education of the children of Douglas that I have consistently seen everywhere I have been in the district.

I have met individually with each of our principals. In our discussions, I have told them that we at the district office are to be of service to the schools. Principals, teachers, and teacher assistants who work with the children are the k
ey to student success. Our job at the district level is to make your jobs a bit easier.

Lee Iacocca, who was the president of Chrysler Motor Company, said that he believed that in a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would settle for something else. I believe that the best of us are teachers! In these difficult political and financial times, educators still do everything in our power to make a difference in our society and in the life of a child.

It is my goal as your superintendent to strive to take the very best care that I can of our teachers and classified staff so that you in turn can take great care of our students. Please know that my door is always open for each of you. I always try to put people before paperwork.

I firmly believe that kindness is good for our health. My former superintendent, Wally Delecki, who I learned so much from and who has been a mentor to me, always says that sometimes it is better to be kind than to be right.

It takes a united effort on the part of each person in our dist
rict to insure success. I want to get to know the district and I will need your help with this. I will be visiting your schools, classrooms, and departments during the year. I want to be able to interact and get to know you, as well as our students.

Helen Keller said that once she knew only darkness and stillness. Her life was without past or future...but a little word from the fingers of a teacher fell into her hand that clutched the emptiness, and her heart leaped to the rapture of living. This is why I am still an educator after many years. I still believe that I can make a difference
in the life of a child. Each one of you in this room have made the difference in the life of a child and will continue to create a future for the children of the Douglas School District!

Together as administrators, teachers, and support staff, we will make this a positive year for all of us here in Douglas!!

As I have gone around the district or different places in Douglas, I have had many people comment on my speech. That means a lot to me!

This Friday is the Bisbee/Douglas Football Game here in Douglas on our new artificial turf in the DHS stadium. This rivalry has been going on sinc
e 1906 and is one of the oldest high school rivalries in the state. I am looking forward to the game and to the many events that I will be able to be a part of in the months and years to come!! And I need to "Keep on Trikin'"!!!!!

8 remarks:

NP said...

Sheila, you made me laugh and cry all at the same time! We are still in Pinetop. I may need your help in the near future as my fingerprints failed the first time and now waiting to see if they approve the 2nd set that were done electronically. I may need a good word or two :) I miss seeing you and will look forward to a visit in the near future.
Love & hugs,

Anonymous said...

Sheila...your words were so very inspirational and beautiful. Upon hearing your words from the heart, you most certainly have shown the educators of Douglas how very fortunate they are to have you as their superintendent. Tom and I wish you the very best and when things settle down, you will definitely be getting some visitors!!

Love you,

Tom and Sandra

Gloria Emanuel said...


What a great speech! Douglas is very fortunate to have you as their superintendent and you're very fortunate to be in southeastern Arizona where the weather is beautiful. You're presence here at Gilbert El. is greatly missed.
Wish we could be at oldest rivalry game on Friday, they were always a lot of fun. Go Pumas!

Gloria & Craig

hyltonta said...

I so enjoy your blog. Your speech is wonderful! Douglas is so blessed to have you.
Thinking of you and happy that you were called to education.
Theresa Hylton

Anonymous said...

Wow...I have shivers reading the words beating from your heart. Yes, Douglas is fortunate to have such a genuine educator. Love the quote of "Being kind rather than right." When is the parade???
You could start a trik-athalon!:)
Miss ya,

Anonymous said...

How lucky the Douglas community is to have you as their Super. You know I'm not bias in that assessment! We're all so proud of you.


Anonymous said...

Sheila, it's been some time since I last visited your blog. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed your most recent blog regarding meeting the bishop and your acclimation "back home". I am sure that you've made a wise decision to return to your roots. The Douglas community (and most importantly, the children) are fortunate to have you become their school superintendent. I was impressed with your "speech" and wholeheartedly embrace your message. Good luck and I am certain that you will be fulfilled by this new challenge.

Jill and I miss you. Hope to visit you this fall.


Meags said...

Roots are in the people. Thank you for helping my family have great roots through the wonderful community you built at Gilbert El. Rigor, Relevance and RELATIONSHIPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!