JD Roberts, R-1 Board of Education president, gave the official welcome at the opening day rally after Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann had introduced the board members. Roberts praised both the administrators and the faculty, adding, "We have the best combination for our children to succeed."
Not being an educator by profession, Roberts drew on his own experience as a Monett graduate to find a rallying point.
"I challenge all of you to swing for the fences," Roberts said. "Not all baseball players have the ability to hit a home run. Through each encounter with students, interaction, use of the lesson plan, or just listening to students, it's possible for a home run.
"You are a powerful, compelling figure in the lives of students," Roberts continued. "Years down the road, students may not remember their classes, but they will remember their teachers. You are a role model and an agent for change in the lives of our children. Even though you may hear Coach Calhoun saying, 'Base hit!', I encourage you to swing for the fences."
The first session had its traditional share of light moments. Jungmann introduced Don Tuck, the new high school assistant principal, as Jungmann's middle school teacher and coach. A number of slides were shown from the "Summer Budget Cut Brainstorming Session," with light hearted ideas like having the Southwest Area Career Center's graphic communications program making political signs and employing donkeys to reduce transportaion costs.
Jungmann began his comments with a celebration of last year's successes. Particular pride was voiced for the beginning of work at the Monett Elementary campus, with 50,000 square fee of new classrooms and 20,000 square feet of renovations, plus going from 50 exterior doors to 12. The biggest cheers were reserved for the announcement, "Hallways are on the way!"
"A positive environment makes a difference with student and teacher performance," Jungmann said.
Building on last year's theme of being "bucket fillers," Jungmann urged the staff to shine a light on successes, rather than only acknowledging shortcomings. He encouraged teachers to make friends with the difficult students and to practice the "reverse" Golden Rule, "Do unto others as they would have you do unto them."
Jungmann urged faculty to act with purpose. Going through the motions alone does not compare with a teacher who is actively engaged, willing to learn and finding new ways to give. Video clips pointed out examples such as blogging and getting past technology barriers as legitimate ways to promote learning that are available with an innovative effort.
"Our students need you to come and sow seeds with passion," Jungmann said. "How much passion do you bring to your decision? Come to inspire, connect and create."
Teachers also have to model perseverance for their students, the superintendent said. Students need to be challenged to try harder, exhibit uncommon courage and overcome obstacles.
To show what can be done with extra commitment, Jungmann showed the video of the Massachusetts family, Dick Hoyt and his physically handicapped son Rick. Though confined to a wheelchair and able to communicate only by use of a computer, Rick Hoyt asked his father if they could compete in a race. Dick agreed, fighting his own heart disease, becoming a marathon runner and ultimately a competitor in Ironman contests, pushing his son through the events. The video played with Garth Brooks' song "The Change," with its message of not accepting the world at face value.
"What kind of impact would we have on our community if we exhibit that kind of passion?" Jungmann asked. "They need us. They need our efforts every day. So bring it. Swing for the fences."
Teachers participated in a variety of workshops and preparatory activities last week and this week in advance of classes beginning Wednesday morning.
LATEST R-1 HEIGHTS REPORTED
Successes celebrated for the Monett R-1 School district follow:
* In last spring's from last spring's Missouri Achievement Program (MAP) tests, the district's overall score for communications arts in the top two performance levels rose by 4.4 percent to a record high of 56.3 percent.
* The district's overall MAP test math score in the top two performance levels rose 3.6 percent to a record high of 55.3 percent.
* MAP test communication arts scores were above the state average in four of six grade levels by an average of 20 index points.
* MAP science scores were above the state average in two of three grade levels.
* MAP scores increased in the top two levels for seven of 10 subgroups district-wide, for nine of 10 for subgroups tracked at the elementary grades, and for all 10 subgroups at the middle school.
* Looking at how the same group of students progressed year after year, in the eight areas Monett tracks, R-1 students far outperformed the state average. Monett Elementary saw increases for 9 of 10 subgroups.
* A record number of high school students took advanced placement tests, resulting in the highest qualifying scores in school history.
* Preliminary accreditation under the North Central program was granted for the Southwest Area Career Center, opening the door for the district to provide Pell Grants when funding is available.
* The grant-funded technology upgrade has brought over 100 new SmartBoards and 150 laptops to the district, with thousands of hours of training provided for faculty.
* The new classroom additions at the Career Center open this fall, including the completed construction technology classroom.
* The office at Central Park Elementary has moved.
* The counseling office at the high school has moved and expanded.