Saturday, October 16, 2021

Reasons to Be Thankful Year-Round, Not Just in November

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

As we approach the holidays, there is usually an uptick in the graciousness, courtesy and patience of our fellow Americans. Maybe not always, but usually and that’s something I look forward to. Once in a while, there’s a scrooge, but the “season of giving” may temper his/her usual negativity.

Some of my recent experiences will highlight the many great partnerships and leaders we have in our community and the positive events and activities going on. 

On an October visit to Manatee Middle School, I had the privilege of observing the band teacher Stephen Detjen as he rehearsed with his students. They were respectful, attentive and anxious to master the music to be their best for an upcoming concert.

After visiting the middle school, I went to Manatee Elementary School and found some students validating themselves and their goals by looking into a handheld mirror and stating the positive behaviors they would pursue that day. Setting goals in Kindergarten? I know I didn’t do that way back when, I do remember sitting in a circle on cold linoleum and singing, “Good Morning to You!”

Immokalee High School hosted the regional Vex Robotics Competition with over 20 teams of up to 4 members from all over Florida. Each of the teams had to design their robots and program them to accomplish specific tasks, which contribute points to the overall standing for each team after each round. The expertise and sportsmanship of all the teams were impressive.

Lely Elementary School was having their traditional Red Walk Day, a commitment to staying drug-free. There were community partners from David Lawrence Center, Collier County Sheriff’s Office and many other resources and activities to focus on wellness.

Veterans Day at Tommie Barfield Elementary was spectacular with new songs, many Veterans and guests and students from third through fifth grade participating. It’s heart-warming to see elementary students learning about the importance of our history and give tribute to our local Veterans.

Collier County School District sponsored a 5K Run/Walk on the 16th and there were more participants than ever before. Music, high school cheerleaders spurring on the runners and walkers, over 200 volunteers helping with set up, publicity, T-shirts, water stations, photography and handing out medals were all part of the CCPS Team that spends countless hours planning and supporting the participants—not to mention the clean-up.

Students at Palmetto Ridge High School entertained the crowd with their portrayal of the play,” Clue.” Remember, Colonel Mustard, with a pipe, in the library? They were professional, funny and confident and demonstrated impressive acting skills.

Shadowlawn Elementary School had a Book Tasting. What? Tasting books? Well, maybe not actually tasting them, but rotating through specific stacks of books, (fantasy, realistic fiction, mystery, humor, etc.), reading part of the book and completing a brief evaluation of each and then taking their results to refer to when checking out their next books. Great idea, right?

Champions for Learning, a long-time supporter of teachers and students, held a special recognition event at the Port Royal Club to celebrate their 30th year in operation and to recognize the former Chairpersons from each of the 30 years. Champions for Learning sponsors the Golden Apple Program, Teachers of Distinction, Classroom Grants for Teachers and a Mentoring Program to help high school students complete the requirements to apply to college or career opportunities. 

So many challenging and stimulating leadership opportunities are engaging students in Collier County Public Schools. With the leaders that work hand in hand with our students to provide role models and support, the sky is the limit. And for those leaders, teachers and administrators, community support and our many diverse students, I give thanks today and every day. You ARE appreciated.

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