There are many things that I am very proud of over my 44 years as a public school educator!!! I had so many wonderful experiences and was so fortunate to have worked alongside some of the very best educators anywhere.
When I first became the principal at Gilbert Elementary, my boss, Leona Shreve, wrote a restructuring grant that was being funded by the Arizona State Legislature. It was a significant grant and Gilbert El was fortunate to receive one of them because of Leona. One of the many things that she wrote into the grant that was really at no cost was a mentoring program for our at-risk students. We named it Tiger Buddies. What it did was pair an adult with a student who just needed some extra attention, or who had issues at home, or for whatever reason the teacher felt that the student needed an adult's attention.
Because of our proximity to the District Office, we had the honor of having many of the DO employees who had worked in schools and missed kids and wanted to participate. It was amazing. We always had enough adults for the number of children who needed a Tiger Buddy. Through the years, there were many times that I was doing some kind of discipline with a child and would find out something that was going on in their lives. After I administered the discipline, I would often call the Tiger Buddy adult and let them know that maybe their buddy needed some extra attention. And it always happened.
This year since I am retired and back in Gilbert, I have my own TIGER BUDDY!! I went to the kick-off breakfast a few weeks ago and met my fifth grader. He is darling!!! Last week I wanted to go have lunch with him with his class for their Tuesday Talk Club lunch. I asked his teacher, Mrs. Dawn, if it was okay if I brought pizza to the whole class and it was. So I was able to be around the whole class and I know that my Tiger Buddy felt special that I brought lunch to everyone. A mom came and thanked me for bringing it!!
It was a great day and I look forward to spending more time with him as the year goes on. I love this program and I am very proud that 20 plus years later, it is still going strong!!!