Monday, July 31, 2017

An Amazing First Day Back for GPS

Today was the first day back for all of the teachers in the district.    We had two "convocations" at Gilbert High to welcome everyone back.   It was the most amazing day and I am so proud to be a GPS Governing Board member.
Suzanne Zentner, our interim superintendent, did a fabulous job of recreating the feeling of community and caring.   She asked our former superintendent, Wally Delecki, to be the keynote speaker.  He is and will always be one of the most influential people in my life.  He said that this was the first time he had been really back in the district since he retired 16 years ago.  At both convocations, he got a standing ovation and well that he should.
Nick Cornell, the GPS teacher of the year, started it off with a great speech.   I was able to speak for the Governing Board.   Between Dr. D, Nick, Suzanne and I, one would have thought that we had talked about what we were going to say and we didn't.  But the them was the same--caring about people and relationships.    It was AMAZING.    
Here is my speech just for posterity:
On behalf of the Gilbert Unified School Board, I would like to welcome you back for the 2017-18 school year!

Martin Luther King once said, “No work is insignificant.  All labor that lifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Each and everyone one of us in this auditorium today works to lift humanity because we work for the future of this great country and the promise of a better tomorrow.   There is no more important job than being an educator.    And when I use the term educator, I mean everyone involved the education of our children!

Several years ago I was able to welcome back all of the GPS teachers.     I told a story that most of you probably cannot even imagine.   When I started teaching at Gilbert, there were only about 800 students in K-8.    I usually drove down Elliot Road which was a two lane road with only stop signs.   There was no housing, only fields.   In the winter, the sheep herders from northern Arizona brought their sheep to Gilbert.   Every now and then they we herd them down Elliot.   One time, I got caught in the middle of the sheep herd.   If you have ever experienced anything like this, it can be a bit scary.   However, for me the scariest  part is that I knew I was going to be late for school because there were a lot of sheep.   We had no cell phones to call and let the school now.   I was about 15 minutes late and someone was covering my class. This happened every now then so they were prepared.

That is hard to imagine today when we have 40 schools.   Growth has brought change.   In addition, teaching has changed with so many mandates coming from both the federal and state levels.    The one constant no matter what happens with growth or mandates, no one can take away the caring for children and the importance of relationships.     I absolutely believe that all children can be successful and building relationships is the single most important thing that educators can do to make that happen.

Helen Keller said, “Once I knew only darkness and stillness…my life was without a past or a future…but a little word from the fingers of a teacher fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living!

Each of you have the power to ensure the rapture of living and what can be more powerful than that?

I know how important your time is and that you all want to get back to your schools to get ready for the students.

So I will end with a quote from Kid President (I had never heard about Kid President until learning about him from Chip Pettit.)

“You don’t need a cape to be a hero; you just need to care.”

Each morning you put on your “invisible” cape and set off to “care” for your kiddos and make a difference. You are all heroes in my book!!

Thank you to the new employees for choosing Gilbert Public Schools and thank you to all of the loyal employees who continue to help make this the best District anywhere!


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