I am thankful for the dedication and hard work of our teachers; instructional aides; school and district office administrators and staff; educational office professionals; maintenance and custodial workers; transportation and food service workers; technology staff; physical, speech, occupational and family therapists; audiologists; instructional coaches; athletic coaches; psychologists; social workers; intervention specialists; career specialists; family liaisons; security officers; School Resource Officers and everyone who makes a difference in the lives of our students. Each day these caring individuals make sure our students arrive safely, enjoy nutritious meals and receive innovative instruction in technology-infused classrooms at safe and clean schools. They make sure students receive the services and assistance they need to succeed in class and in life.
So, it's fitting that American Education Week always falls close to Thanksgiving. The staff and students at our 40 schools and centers found fun and creative ways to recognize the tireless work of our educators during this week-long celebration of public education in America. I visited each school and saw so many friendly faces, energetic teachers and administrators, and students who couldn't wait to show me the projects and activities they were working on. My "Around Richland Two in Four Days Tour" totaled 130.4 miles and lasted a total of 23 hours and 15 minutes.
Here are a few of the many memorable highlights:
- A pre-K student who asked, "Are you old?" Then, asked if I was 20 after I answered the first question.
- Kindergarten students who, after I read a story, exclaimed, "Read it again!"
- Students who gave me a bag of popcorn with a note signed by every student in the class that said, "Thanks for popping in."
- High school students who were proud of their schools and especially excited about their winter projects to benefit those less fortunate.
- Hot chocolate waiting for me when I had a flat tire and had to walk to a school in the cold. (We have a great walking path to the school!)
- Beautiful student art work on hallway walls. I'm so glad the arts are important in Richland Two.
- Parents in schools supporting their kids and our teachers.
- Student greeters who welcomed me to their class and could clearly articulate what they were learning.
- Watching a 3-D printer in action run by a program created by seventh-graders.
- Seeing the giving spirit of Richland Two in action during National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. Many schools have collected and donated food so that families less fortunate can enjoy the holiday season.
- The excitement on the faces and in the voices of teachers who learned they earned their National Board certification.
- Meeting new teachers who say how happy they are to be in Richland Two and whose principals can't stop bragging about them.
We have so much to be thankful for in Richland Two. That would not be possible without all of us working together. Thank you for your support. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.