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Friday, May 6, 2016

R-1 District teachers urged to make a difference

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Monett R-1 school superintendent Brad Hanson, at left, addressed the district faculty and staff about his personal background as part of the opening program last Thursday for district employees to start the new school year. Classes begin in Monett today. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
The Monett R-1 School District did well in last spring's state tests, reported Superintendent Brad Hanson as teachers gathered last week for their first day back for the 2012-13 school year. The opening rally offered words of encouragement to start the new session.

Marty Scabarozi, R-1 Board of Education president, provided the official welcome to the faculty and staff last Thursday. Running for the board after her children were in college, Scabarozi said she has been impressed with the successes Monett produces. Her children have faced college competition from private school graduates and still come out at the head of their classes.

"[Gold medal Olympic sprinter] Usain Bolt is a private school," Scabarlozi said. "Public schools are like the decathlon, where you have to be good in nine other events. You did a great job with my kids. You do a great job with all kids. Have a great year," Scabarozi said.

As an illustration in the value of training, Monett Intermediate School principal Peg Bryan, at rear, and Central Park Elementary principal Annette Cozort, at right, engaged in a spirited game of Wii bowling, where another colleague, unfamiliar with the video game, did not do well. The game illustrated raining is essential for success in learning. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Hanson, addressing the faculty for the first time as their superintendent, pledged to work hard to make them proud to be their leader.

Numbers from the state's Annual Performance Review (APR) would be released this week, Hanson said. From all indications, Monett would have earned distinction in performance, passing in all 14 categories, if the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was giving the award this year.

The $750 addition to the base salary for teachers put Monett pay at the highest level in the area and in the conference, Hanson added. The teachers and staff applauded the board for its financial support.

Applause were also offered to the maintenance staff for their summer projects and facilities efforts.

Introductions were made for new faculty and improvements made at each campus.

For Monett Elementary School, Hanson praised the staff for earning a bronze award for implementing the Positive Behaviorial Interventions and Supports (PBIS), for getting an outstanding review for Professional Learning Community (PLC) implementation and collaborating more to improve student performance. Only one classroom teacher had to be hired to start the new year at the campus, a change from many past years, especially since the position opened because of a retirement.

Another change has been Concha Cecenas, who had served as receptionist at Monett Elementary since 2005. Cecenas moved to the central office to be the administrator of the PowerSchool database system for the district. Taking her place at MES is Ana Espinoza.

The opening program was again seasoned with its share of good natured fun. A Wii bowling game between faculty members illustrated how someone without adequate training can have difficulty competing against someone with more experience.

Special services director Elaine O'Neal has to make a presentation each year about differences in the various federal regulations in different programs. Instead of giving a talk, O'Neal made a film, interviewing faculty and administrators over basic knowledge of the district, interspersing special services issues in her questions.

The faculty paid close attention, watching some of their colleagues draw blanks or out-answer each other. In one of the funniest moments, one of the faculty said it was hard to tell the difference between O'Neal, the compliance coordinator, and Dolly Johnson, the 504 coordinator. In a quick scene change, both women stood side by side, showing a foot and a half difference in height between the blonde O'Neal and the brunette Johnson.

Hanson introduced himself by showing a group photo of his family and reviewing which of his previous schools shared the color purple with Monett.

"My personal philosophy is 'What's in the best interest of kids," Hanson said. "It's not about us."

For the year, Hanson proposed a theme of "Student focused, future driven." By taking the word "learning" as an acronym, Hanson suggested varied ways to look at the job of an educator.

"L" stands for "level." For real learning to occur, Hanson said teachers need to take their information to the level students are at, rather than expecting all students to be the same or rise to the teacher's presentation point. He encouraged teachers to read Charles Schwahn's book "Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning," which he distributed to building administrators.

"E" stands for "expectations." Hanson said teachers must believe students can rise to their expectations. Lowering expectations can cheat students.

"A" is part of "feedback." Hanson said if people, including teachers, learn more from their mistakes than successes, perhaps perfection is overvalued. Better feedback will help students learn more from shortcomings. Coaches and music teachers, who provide very specific comments to students, may provide a more effective teaching model.

"R" is part of "care." Hanson turned to a talk by educator Angela Maiers, who stressed that students will not learn until they know the teacher cares.

"If you want to truly inspire, make sure students know they matter," Hanson said.

"N" is part of "own." Hanson challenged teachers to ask themselves who is working harder to learn. If the teacher is doing the majority of the work, the students may not be investing themselves to claim the outcome they should want.

"Ing" reflects an ongoing process, beyond the momentary challenge to learn. Hanson's final video excerpt had students speaking to teachers, urging them to not take for granted what they know to reach their ever changing audience.

"Let's get cracking," Hanson said. "Our kids are counting on us. Let's have a great year."

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