Good morning/afternoon or evening, depending on when you are reading this note.  If you ever want to be energized, inspired, cheered up, or just be reminded of why it’s so important to invest in the lives of our youth, just visit an elementary school in our district.  As you may have seen on our social media platforms, from time to time I get invited to come to a classroom.   Oftentimes there is an event or activity planned and if I’m lucky, I get to participate.  When this happens it is always the highlight of my day or week.  The visit always energizes me and reminds me of why we do what we do every single day in education.  

For something fun, I decided to reach out to all three of our elementary buildings and set up a time that I could visit with some of the students and give them an opportunity to ask me questions.  Scary?  Yes, considering my background is at the high school level including coaching varsity football.  But honestly, the results of those visits were priceless.  I am going to provide you all with some of the highlights of those visits and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did on that very special day.  

For my visits, I asked that one student in kindergarten through the fifth grade meet with me and gave them the chance to ask me questions.  In order to break the ice, I began with a brief introduction of myself and then asked each student to go around and introduce themselves and mention what grade they were in.  Of course, I had in my head how that time would go, and those visions were completely turned upside down after my first visit.  My previously mentioned experiences in education did not prepare me at all for what I got myself into that day.  The ice breaker went well, everyone participated in introducing themselves and sharing what grade they were in.  After that, let’s just say all doors were opened, and not just opened, but opened wide!

Listed below are some of the questions I asked and some of the wonderful responses I received from the students.  

  1.  What do you like the most about your school?

    1. Most popular answer was, the teachers.  The students genuinely appreciate and love our staff!

    2. We feel safe at school.

    3. Everyone is nice at my school.

    4. I love the playground, it’s so much fun.

    5. I love that we get to go outside for recess.

  2. What would you change about your school?

    1. I would make it so no homework was given.

    2. I would love it if we could have a bubble machine that would fill the school with bubbles and we would have to walk through the school with goggles.

    3. I would extend the time we could have on our chromebooks and also make some time to play video games.

    4. I would build a giant trampoline on the playground with an underground tunnel that we would use to go outside and play on the trampoline.

    5. I would have more snow days.

Once we finished with my questions, it was their turn to fire questions at me.  Listed below are some of my favorites.

  1. What’s your favorite color?

  2. What do you like the most about your job?

  3. What do you not like about your job?

  4. Do you have a dog?

  5. How old are you?

  6. Do you have a wife?

  7. How did you get your job?

  8. Do you like Summer or Winter better?

  9. Will you come here more often?

  10. Since you are in charge of the Principals, can we have longer recess?

  11. Where do you live?

So in my “preparation” for the visits, I must say none of those questions were on my list of anticipated curiosities.  However, through the session and these questions, I did learn a great deal about the youth in our district.  My main takeaway was to consult an elementary teacher before pulling in a room full of elementary students and expect them to sit and answer questions for more than 10 minutes!  Let’s just say there were many moments of wiggles and giggles and lots and lots of talking over each other.  My experience at the High School level didn’t prepare me for this!  All kidding aside, I learned a lot from visiting with these students and as a result I couldn’t be more proud to be the Superintendent of this great district.  The students were  very polite, courteous, compassionate, well-mannered, funny, genuinely interested and proud to be a part of this district.  They treated me with such respect and kindness and were excited to sit down with me. For that, I’m most grateful and proud.   All of what I described above is the result of what they are taught at home, in our communities, and what is reinforced by our wonderful staff at all of our schools.  I want to share one final example of why I’m so proud of our kiddos and that was what happened at the end of one of the visits.  I thanked the students, told them how proud I was of them and then they were dismissed to go back to class.  As the students were leaving and as I was standing up to put my coat on, I witnessed a kindergarten student walking around the table, pushing all the chairs in before he left the office to go back to class.  My heart filled with pride and I couldn’t help but smile and thank him for taking the time to make sure the chairs were properly pushed in for the next group.  This may seem like a “little” thing, but honestly, in this day and age, it’s not a “little” thing, but in fact it’s a big thing that shouldn’t go unnoticed.  I applaud our communities for still instilling the little things that demonstrate such a high level of respect for others.  Never underestimate your actions and the impact they have because they are watching and they are taking it all in.  

The investment we make in the youth of our communities is invaluable.  We have great students, teachers, support staff and administrators in the district and I’m grateful to be a small part of the educational process at Arthur CUSD 305.  There can be a lot of negativity in the world we live in but we can choose the positive path and that is so much more rewarding and productive.  The positive approach provides such a great example for our youth and in the end provides a healthier and more productive solution to all involved.  The smiles, warmth, compassion and positivity that permeates from our elementary schools is infectious and warms your heart.  So, if you ever want to uplift your spirits, put yourself in a great mood, or be injected with a large dose of positive energy, visit one of our elementary buildings and I guarantee you will feel it immediately when you walk through the front doors.  Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope you enjoyed the narrative as much as I enjoyed the experience.  Have a wonderful week and as always, Go Knights!  

Please be on the lookout next week, as I will provide a summary of the facility survey results.  

Mr. Shannon Cheek

Superintendent Arthur CUSD 305