Monthly School Report (November 2017)

Superintendent Joe Potts · Wednesday, November 22, 2017
I remember vividly an exchange at one parent teacher conference early in my career.

The memory involved my students writing a thank you letter to any person whom they wanted to remember at Thanksgiving.

Each brought in a stamped envelope in early October. For weeks, they drafted and revised their letters in anticipation of sending just the right message for the holiday.

When they finished, I collected their letters and mailed them a week before Thanksgiving—and a few days before fall parent teacher conferences.

About a third of the way through the evening of conferences, up to my table walks a mother clutching a letter in her hand. She sits down, and she looks right at me. She then gently lifts the letter that her son wrote.

She begins reading, and as she does, tears well in her eyes. She chokes up, and pauses. She then says, “Those are some of the nicest words that anyone has ever said to me.”

There I thought was the true power of the written word; and in her hands was the true purpose of Thanksgiving. A letter-simple words giving thanks to someone you love.

Decades later, I still remember that moment. Then as now, simple and caring actions and words speak loudly.

That kind of care is evident right here in the West Liberty Community School District. Having spent a number of months in the schools and community, here are few ways in which care and engagement have been obvious to me.

Student Participation

There is a strong correlation between the number of students involved in extracurricular activities and the health of a school district. And the strength is apparent here in West Liberty.

Consider the fall sporting seasons that just finished. Football, volleyball, and cross country had strong seasons with teams and individuals representing their teams who made it to post season play.

Our high school band performed at each football home game as well as our high school’s cheer squad, Ignite dance group, and Color Guard.

The arts are also a place where students contribute. This fall’s musical, Seussical the Musical, contained a cast of dozens of students who sang and danced and acted with confidence and skill. The pit group who accompanied the singers did a splendid job; and the tech crew supported the cast on stage.

Our FFA has a state and national reputation due in part to excellent leadership and tremendous contributions from more than 100 students. This fall a number of students competed and earned significant recognition at the national convention in Indianapolis.

I am thankful as a leader in the district that so many students participate in extracurricular activities.

Community Engagement and Support

Service clubs in West Liberty are alive and well. Clubs such as the Rotary and Lions, just to name a few—fundraise through the year to support educational efforts. Our Community Foundation, West Liberty Foods, and 100+ Women Group have made significant contributions to students’ lives, and the Run for the Schools raised more than $5700.00 this fall to support students.

Support and engagement were also present this first trimester at parent/teacher conferences. Some grades in some schools had 100% participation from families. There were times at the elementary school when it was impossible to find a parking spot close to the school.

Caring and Committed Staff

I am thankful that the West Liberty School District has hired talented and supportive staff. In our regular walks through classrooms to observe instruction and student learning, it is easy to spot high quality teaching and future forward instructional practices.

Teachers care deeply for their students as evidenced by the level of preparation and engagement. It is not uncommon to see in a classroom 100% student engagement during most lessons.

Respect for Diversity

Finally, the term diversity means many things to many people. If anything, it is a term that has depth and dimension. West Liberty Community Schools has cultivated a learning environment where students honor and accept difference, and where there is a demand for learning subject matter in two languages.

In a way, this interest mirrors a global economy and workplace that expects and rewards the ability to understand cultures and to interact proficiently in a number of languages.

I am thankful that in West Liberty every child matters and has the support to succeed academically.

Simple Things Matter

There is elegance in simplicity. Saying “thank you” is a simple thing to do.

And it frequently is the simple things that we do for each other that make the difference—that make people feel as though they matter.

Consider that one letter written by a son to his mother at Thanksgiving that had such an impact.

Then consider the number of times daily in our schools that our students get that extra nudge that enables successful learning.

There is much to be thankful for in the West Liberty Community School District.

Thank you. Gracias.
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