Robert Markovics, Monett Area Chamber of Com-merce president, welcomed Chamber hosts and new teachers in his opening re-marks.
This year, retired teachers were honored guests, serv-ing as mentors to new dis-trict employees. Retired teachers were able to offer advice and insight into the district operations and an-swer questions new em-ployees might have had.
Retired teachers attending the luncheon included: Terri Casper, Connie Carver, Richard Heim, Jerry Hudson, Dorothy Jones, Vicky McGuire, Jim Orr, Mary Scott, Gary Sor-rells, Walker Craig, Heno Head, Gary Holder, Kay Johnson, Robert McGuire, Marney Nowland, Jane Rogers, Ralph Scott and Richard Mettlach.
Leon Troyer, the Common Man, provided entertain-ment for the event, singing a special tribute to the new teachers, covering the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young classic, "Teach Your Children Well," along with many of his own songs from his CD The Common Man's Highway.
Heno Head, a retired teacher, performed several scientific experiments to demonstrate to teachers a challenging form of educa-tion.
"Students would rather participate than watch," he said. "Demos are the limos of education. You'll all get there in the end, so you might as well ride in style."
Head performed a number of entertaining demonstra-tions, including holding a water-filled bag over new superintendent Brad Hen-son's head and piercing it with sharpened pencils. Henson was pleased to stay dry.
Head went on to expound on the numerous advan-tages offered by the city of Monett, including the fourth ranked hospital in the state, urgent care facili-ties, churches, civic and service organizations, booster clubs, outdoor rec-reational opportunities and other group interests that range from orchestra to creative writing.
Head urged teachers to "rock their [students'] world," and that in looking back over their careers, they would then realize time "goes by way too fast.
"Welcome home," he said.
Mayor Jim Orr then ad-dressed the new teachers, telling them that he had once served as a teacher and decided to give back to the community by running for the mayor's seat, which he has held for two terms.
Orr went on to give a brief history of Monett, which was founded as a railroad community in 1888. He mentioned utility and pub-lic works services provided by the city and the ameni-ties, which include both city parks and the Monett Municipal Airport.
Markovics then highlighted some of the growth and success of Monett for new district employees.
"In the past five years, while most municipalities have struggles, Monett has actually moved forward," Markovics said. "Our bal-ance sheet continues to reflect a reduction in debt and our revenues continue to show a positive trend line upward.
"This has allowed the city to initiate several key pro-grams," he continued. "The city has been able to extend the water loop on the south, west and northern part of the city, tying it back to the Industrial Park. This $28,000 project allows the city to improve water flow dynamics to the system and allow for future growth and expansion. We will also begin a $12 million water treatment project by year's end," Markovics said.
The city has activated a program to renovate and promote downtown Mon-ett," he said. "Way finding signs have been developed and should be installed in the coming months. A grant program has also been de-veloped to provide local businesses up to $1,500 to remodel the exterior of their storefronts. So far, four businesses have been named to receive the grants."
Markovics said a coopera-tive arrangement had been made with the Monett Area YMCA and the new facil-ity's $12 million facility slated to open by year's end.
Other improvements in-clude the new $1 million community center which will replace the Monett Park Casino; upgrades to North Park's athletic com-plex; the $7,500,000 reno-vation project at the ele-mentary school, which now includes a community tor-nado shelter; the $1 million project of putting a com-puter in the hands of each high school students and an iPad in the hands of each elementary student; the planned performing arts center and addition of classrooms at the high school campus; and the stadium renovations.
"You are in one of the most stable areas of the country," Markovics said. "The pros-pects for our future look bright and promising be-cause of the hard work, leadership and commitment by so many people. The people of Monett ensure the words 'down home,' still reflect what is good about America."
New assistant superinten-dent, Mike Dawson, then introduced new teachers to the Chamber board mem-bers in attendance.
New teachers for the year include: Terri Buchanan, first grade; Chris Simmons, first grade; Sarah Davis, speech; LaShel Crouch, speech; Laura Crawford, special education, fourth grade; Rebekah Crawford, third grade, Kaylie Meeks, fourth grade; Kellen Hoo-ver, physical education; Chris Brammer, middle school and high school choir; Allison Hails, special education; Tony Howell, social studies and science; Baylee Lane, middle school and high school family and consumer science; Jessica McSpadden, math; Cather-ine Eck, social studies; Ty-ler Rickard, high school physical education and middle school math; Kath-erine Smith, part-time art instructor; Philip Soule, band director; Beth Dillon, Missouri Center for Career Education Region 8 coordi-nator; Aaron Obermann, welding; and Jason Smith, embedded credit communi-cation arts.