March 6, 2013
Last week I was muttering under my breath about snow in March while I shoveled my drive.....for the 2nd time! Yesterday, I was so very thankful that we had a ditch full of snow to gently bring a bus to a stop and hold it up. Our bus driver did an excellent job of avoiding a head on collision with another vehicle that crossed the center line but found herself off the shoulder and being sucked into the ditch. The snow cradled the bus and kept it from rolling over. Fortunately no students were hurt. The driver was transported to our local hospital to get checked out but I hear she is doing well. It's funny how miracles work...any other March and that could have been a horrible accident, but thanks to a ditch full of snow on March 5, no one was hurt.
I was reading "Duck on a Bike" to some kids at Stonegate when I received the call about the bus accident. Fortunately, I was on the last page and we finished the book before I had to race off. We had been talking about all of the things that were coming next when the Duck rode past his barn yard friends. I love their imaginations and how they make connections. So much fun!!!
Speaking of snow, I want to thank all of our buildings and grounds, custodial and maintenance crews for their hard work getting our buildings and parking lots ready for school. That was a lot of work and it was tough to find places to put that much snow. Great job TEAM!
I would like to thank the Ray-Pec East award winning East Edge school paper for the article they did on my upcoming retirement. Nicole Johnson, the news editor did an excellent job with her interview and writing. I always talk about those moments that you will always remember, and I had one of those as the students were interviewing me. I was asked; "several years from now if someone from school is asked about you, what would you hope they would say?" What a great question!!! It actually choked me up a bit as I pondered how to answer....I finally stammered out that I hoped they would say I loved kids and my job. Once the article came out I realized that the question had been answered for me....they had asked other middle school students about me and their answers were so much better than mine! Jayde Moore, an 8th grader said, "thank you for always treating us like we were your own children", and Brenna Snyder said "thank you for always being nice and smiling. Your good mood always put me in one." Aren't kids the best things ever?!?! Thank you to everyone at the East Edge for your great journalistic work and for giving me another moment that I will cherish forever.
I have been out and about quite a bit the past couple of months and as my time as Superintendent draws closer to an end plan on being in our buildings a great deal. I will do a better job of sharing my adventures with everyone on this blog than I have recently. Check back often cause I am going to have a lot of fun for the next few months!!!!
December 20, 2012
I have just recovered from Thanksgiving dinnerS and now Christmas is here...do they make a holiday where you don't over eat?! But then again, where's the fun in that?!
I had high hopes that we would make it through first semester without missing a day of school and darn if the snow didn't come with two days to go. I hope everyone stayed safe. I want to thank everyone that is working hard to clear parking lots and sidewalks in preparation for coming back to school. We move a lot of snow off 13 different parking lots.
Speaking of snow removal, I saw two of the Raymore city snow removal trucks with the painted blades out today. Some of our schools painted the blades on the trucks with school logos. They look really cool. Great partnership with the city.
Our high school band is gearing up to head west. They are performing in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego California. They leave Christmas afternoon and have an approximately 31 bus ride ahead of them...one way...at least the weather will be warm! Good luck band...I know you will make us proud!
I have been out a little bit to see our kids...not nearly enough but I'm going to fix that next semester! They are anxious to show off what they are learning to me and I really enjoy visiting with them all. My intent for this blog was to share with you all of the neat things I get to see on a daily basis in our great district. I never wanted it to be a forum for me to talk about politics or legislation or money.....with that said I believe I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the tragedy that happened in Newtown Connecticut.
Yes, it is a terrible thing and it saddens my heart and makes me scream out in anger. I will never understand what drives a person to do violence to another...especially innocent children. Conversations about mental health, gun control and school safety have been taking place nation wide, including here at Ray-Pec.
Research says that schools are very safe places....we work hard to keep our kids safe in an environment that is welcoming to all. We review policies and procedures, upgrade security systems and train how to recognize potential problems, deescalate situations and deal with difficult issues. But how do you prepare, let alone prevent something like Newtown? I don't know the answer. What I do know is that I don't want our kids to live in fear...I want them to feel safe at school. I want our patrons to feel welcome when they come here. I preach family at Ray-Pec and for the past 29 years I have believed and lived that philosophy. All 6000 of these kids are mine! I went to one of our elementary schools yesterday just to be with elementary age kids. I got lots of hugs and helped with a few assignments and heard lots of Christmas stories and wish lists! It felt good......writing this to you has helped me as well. I don't think we will ever really know why, but we can all pray that it never happens again.
Hug your kids every day...I know the teenagers don't think it's cool....but I'd ask you to do it anyway.
I want you to know that we are working hard to keep our kids safe. Have a blessed holiday!
November 19, 2012
Another year of successful turkey dinners at Ray-Pec....It was great to see so many of our parents join their kids for lunch. I was lucky enough to get to many of the lunches and have found that I may have a future as a thrower of rolls....or I may try out for the chiefs...my aim was good and my arm was "live"! :-)
I had so much fun visiting with our patrons and giving the kids a hard time about all that food they were eating...I also ate a lot of turkey over those two weeks and by the end I was trying to trade some of our kids a turkey dinner for the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and hot pockets some of them brought! lol
I want to say thank you to all of the volunteers and especially the food service staff for working so hard to provide a great Thanksgiving feast!
Our students are once again making us FAMOUS....we have six students participating in the 2013 National Honor Choir. This group is recognized and performs every other year. This year's performance is in Dallas, Texas.
We also have the top middle school news paper in the nation. "The East Edge", produced by our own East Middle School was awarded the best paper at the fall National High School Journalism convention in San Antonio. I am very proud of Mr. VanPelt and the Husky journalism student staff for their award.
And if that wasn't enough, we also have 44 kids in all district band, award winners in the local art festival and three of our intermediate/middle school robotics teams winning awards. I also attended a really cool surprise celebration for Cheyanne Lyons as the entire high school gathered in the gym...Cheyanne didn't know...to surprise her with the Evelyn Gates award for the outstanding volleyball player in the Missouri/Kansas Metropolitan. What a great award and show of spirit and support.
What an amazing job our kids and their teachers do showcasing our talents.
Last week was National Education Week...I took cake, decorated in their school colors to each of the buildings as a token of our thanks for all they do. I had the words "Famous and Remembered" put on each cake. Again, for the past 7 years I have talked about our students making us famous and our people having that impact moment on a child that will always be remembered....I also talk about a good teacher having the ability to take 30 kids, set them under a tree with no materials and teach...and those kids will learn. I was thrilled and moved that upon delivering those cakes they not only new the phrase but I was asked several times why there wasn't a tree on the cake. I hope that means I have made some impact and will be remembered...I couldn't ask for anything more and am very thankful for that opportunity.
With Thanksgiving upon us and Christmas coming fast I hope you will take some time to reflect on things close to you. I am extremely thankful for my Ray-Pec family of students, staff and patrons...this is an amazing place and I am so proud and thankful to be a part of it.
November 2, 2012
Oh the things kids do....I was visiting a kindergarten class and a debate began. I have recently added some facial hair and the class was debating if I should keep it or shave it off. One child asked me to bend down and she proceeded to rub my chin...to see what it felt like. Well as you can imagine this sparked a mad rush for all of them to want to rub my beard. Now you know to wash your hands....but I suspect at that moment most of the children probably had not just washed up before rubbing my beard, SO.....I grabbed the nearest bottle of hand sanitizer and rubbed it on my face. Now I have to admit there have been times in my life that my mother washed my mouth out with soap for saying something inappropriate. I am just thankful that they didn't have hand sanitizer back then...that stuff tastes AWFUL!!!
I have been out and about quite a bit the past week and have seen some wonderful things. Kids and adults are working hard and it really shows. I walked into a class and asked an elementary student what they were doing today and he proceeded to tell me his learning goal and how they were working on it. HE TOLD ME HIS LEARNING GOAL! How impressive is that?! I am so proud of how well everyone is working towards making our kids successful.
I went to the play last night to see Spam-A-Lot performed by our talented students. We are one of the first high schools in America to perform the broadway version. It was hilarious...the songs were funny, the choreography was outstanding and they even dragged a "peasant" out of the audience for added comic relief....Ok, they dragged me on stage and had some fun. I loved it...and i got an award and a picture!!! The theater department always does an excellent job. I hope you will make it out to one of their productions soon. You will be amazed!
November is here and that means turkey dinners! Our Child Nutrition department is extra awesome this time of year. Starting next week we will serve turkey dinner with all the "fixin's" (I am a hillbilly from Branson). I plan to get to as many of the buildings as possible next week...if not to help, well at least to eat!!! Of course with all the turkey I am going to eat I may take a week long nap!
I am doing my best to soak up every day and enjoy the great opportunities my job allows. I love working with our kids but time goes so fast! I don't want to panic anyone, but there are only 52 days till Christmas! I want to thank everyone for making this a really special year for me...
As Thanksgiving approaches I want you to know that I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as your superintendent. It's the greatest job ever!
October 18, 2012
Time just flies by! Parent / Teacher conferences for first quarter are next week and the weather is definitely making a change. I have been spending time in our buildings. It is amazing how fast our kindergarten kids grow up....they have learned their routines and are really embracing learning. I also was impressed with several of our third graders. I read to a class and in between sections they would discuss the ideas of the book from various perspectives...the author, the character, the reader...they talked to me about the mental images the passages gave them. It was really cool.
Middle school kids this morning were working on their writing skills. They showed me their introductions with the main ideas, the development in the body of their work and how they tied it all together in their endings. They are doing an amazing job!
Speaking of parent / teacher conferences, we are implementing standards based grading and reporting at our elementary schools and now 5th grade as well. This will continue to be a push for our district as we strive to improve student achievement. Standards based will give you, the parent, much more information than just an A, B, C, D or F grade...it will break down subjects by key standards and let you and us know much better where a student is very strong as well as where there is an opportunity for improvement. As an example; instead of just getting a B in English we will break out grades for vocabulary, comprehension, writing skills, etc...that will actually tell us what we need to focus on to help our students have all of the skills they will need to be successful.
We are also excited about introducing the International Baccalaureate degree program at Ray-Pec. This world recognized degree program will incorporate highly rigorous classes that our students can choose to take as stand alone classes or as a course of study for the degree designation. It will challenge our students and give them the opportunity to excel. There will be more info out on IB as we fully implement it in the future.
There are lots of preparations for the holidays already in motion. The high school is working hard on Trunk-or-Treat. This is a great event on the high school campus scheduled for Monday the 29th of October. Coats for Kids is a drive for new coats or cash to help with the request for over 160 coats for our kids this winter. And of course I am gearing up for the annual Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics. I will have my page up and running soon and will be asking your support as we raise money for a great cause!
Our kids are having another great year in activities and athletics. Nunsense is coming to the flex theater at the middle school, the band is gearing up to perform at the Sun Bowl in San Diego, our athletes are shining again this fall. It is such a treat to see our kids excel in every way. It really is fun being a part of such a great school community.
September 25, 2012
School is in full swing and all sorts of great things are happening. If you haven't seen our facebook page please check it out. There is a picture of me enjoying a "cool" slushie at Raymore Elementary....actually, the kids read for over 61,000 minutes and as a reward they dumped FROZEN Sonic slushies on me! It is miserably cold, but the kids kept me warm with their cheers and encouragement. Great job Raymore Elementary!
Congratulations to the football team for winning our homecoming game and running the record up to 3-1. It feels like we are on the prowl for another run at a state championship! Lots of kudos to everyone that worked hard on homecoming...student council, the band, cheerleaders and prowlers and everyone else that made it a great event.
I stopped by a couple of tailgates as well...Country Club bank collected cash for Coats for Kids and raised over $350...thank you for your efforts on behalf of our kids. I also spent some time visiting with the class of 1962. This was their first reunion and of the 28 graduates almost half made it back...a couple from Texas and one from Wyoming! It was great to hear the stories and talk about how they were the last class to graduate from the Peculiar school site. I'm thrilled they came "home" and hope they had a great time!
I have been having a great time visiting with our kindergarten classes...they have all received their photos we took on the first day and I love hearing their stories about getting them in the mail. I will REALLY miss that next year!
Speaking of really cold...I know it's early, but keep on the lookout for my Special Olympics Polar Plunge page. The end of January I will be raising money and jumping in a frozen Longview Lake for Missouri Special Olympics. I hope you will all help me go out with a big splash and raise lots of money for our local athletes. Of course I hope they cut the ice off before I make the jump!!!!!
August 30, 2012
I hate to wish anyone a bad weekend, but I sure hope the weathermen have it right and it rains Friday and Saturday!!!
It has been a great start to the school year and already great things are happening. Our kindergarteners have already come such a long way from that first day of school. They know their routines, work well in their learning centers and are learning so much already. I was lucky enough to show up at story time at Raymore Elementary and got to read to the class. I also showed off my math skills with a fourth grade class at Timber Creek....well, they showed off their skills. :-)
Congratulations to Coach Kruse on his 100th win as the Panthers won 42-0 at our home opener. Way to go team!!!! Also the softball team won their tournament! There is a lot of promise out of such a young squad...they will be fun to watch! Our band is currently raising funds in preparation for their trip to San Diego this December. I hope you get the opportunity to watch them perform, they are awesome!
For the 7th year in a row Ray-Pec is academically accredited with distinction for high performance. We achieved 14 out of 14 on the criteria checklist the department of elementary and secondary education uses to rate schools throughout the state. We are very proud of our students, our teachers and everyone that helps educate our children. Thank you parents for your hard work and support of our district.
I hope everyone has a great Labor Day holiday.
August 22, 2012
What a great start to the school year!!!! We had great attendance at meet the teacher night and our transition day for students changing buildings had almost 90% attendance. That is awesome! I have been in several of our buildings the last few days and kids are back in the swing of school and the teachers, Principals, and staff are hard at work making Ray-Pec a great place for kids.
I have had an emotional start as I have gone through my "last, first day", and my last convocation speech to our 800 + employees. And of course one of the things I enjoy the most; my first day kindergarten pictures. For those of you not familiar, I take a photo with every kindergartener on their first day of school. I send that photo home in the mail with a letter letting the parents know how special their child is to me and our district. It is my hope that that photo stays around a long time as our kids grow up in our district. It may have been my last time to take photos, but it was their only first day and I hope we can make each day a great day for them as they move their way to graduation!!! By the way, this year we took 438 photos on the first day of school....my smile still works, but it is a little sore! ;-)
I want to take a moment and thank MODOT and the city of Peculiar along with the contractor that worked so hard on the bridge across 71 connecting Peculiar. I was afraid that after the truck hit it during construction that we wouldn't have it available for the first couple of days of school, but they did an excellent job and finished the project before the start of school. That really saved us a lot of heartburn. Great Job!!!!!
We have been going through a new Baldrige based strategic plan process to update our current plan. This plan will provide us with the road map we need to keep moving forward over the next 5 years. We have a new mission and vision statement at Ray-Pec: Our mission statement; Preparing EACH student for a successful and meaningful life. and our vision statement;
Turning today's learners into tomorrow's leaders.
I am excited about the direction our new strategic plan will take the district.
I look forward to sharing my experiences with you this year.....I hope you, our parents and patrons will work hard to partner with and do everything we can to help our kids be successful.
August 8, 2012
Welcome back to another great school year at Raymore-Peculiar Schools. I want to say thank you to everyone that worked so hard to bring our on-line registration process together. I think it went great and seemed to move things along really well. I want to say super job to our buildings and grounds and maintenance crews...the buildings look great and are ready for kids. A huge shout out to our food service department for the vendor samples and education about the new USDA guidelines for breakfast and lunch. The food was great and people "ate it up"....ok, bad pun I know....
For three really long days, it still is one of my favorite times of year. I get to see lots of kids and hear about their summer and how excited...or not...they are to come back to school. And it marks the beginning of another school year......and for me, the beginning to what I plan on being, an awesome last year.
As most of you probably know, I am set to retire at the end of the 2012/2013 school year. I have had an amazing career and am blessed to have spent so many great years here at Ray-Pec. It was a difficult decision for me, but it is the right one. With that said, I am still just a big kid and I plan on spending as much time with our kids this year as possible. I also plan on sharing all of the amazing things our kids and faculty/staff do with everyone who reads this journal. I have already warned my assistant Pam that my plan is to be in buildings everyday. I will do my best to keep up with this blog so that you can share those experiences with me. It really is amazing what our kids can do.
I want to thank everyone that has supported me and more importantly our kids and this district. It really is a wonderful place and I am looking forward to another GREAT year!!!!