Good Morning Governor Snyder, Senator Jansen, and Representatives MacGregor, VerHeulen, Lyons, Yonker, Hooker, Dillon, and Brinks,
We are just days away from the official opening of the 2014/15 school year. Staff members have been busy over the past several weeks as they prepare to greet our student body next week Tuesday.
YES, the high school (and all of our other schools) will be ready for our students even though the construction project is not completely finished. The entire project is not slated to be finished until December 2014 with the pool slated to open in mid-October. Some of our retired teachers had the chance to tour the site last week.
Today is Thursday and as many of you remember, my life coach Travis, who enters 1st grade next week, encouraged me to wear my red Chuck Tanner Converse All Star tennis shoes every Thursday. I have them on today as I don’t want to forget what Travis says is the “important stuff.”
As we approach the opening day I found myself looking back to some of the lessons Travis helped me learn last school-year to see if they would apply to the new school-year. There are four:
1. Our kids really do listen to us and they watch what we do – every day.
I tell the story of how Travis and I first met last September. I still smile when I think about our first three meetings. Travis hopped out of the van the first day. His red tennis shoes were on the wrong feet and untied. I suggested to him they were great shoes but he had them on the wrong feet. He looked at his shoes, looked at mine, and stated without hesitation “I think your shoes are on the wrong feet and they are black.” During our second meeting, when I suggested that I wanted to buy a pair of red tennis shoes, Travis shared that he thought I was a little old, my feet were kind of big and he didn’t think the stores would have shoes that size. Our third meeting was the best as I had on a pair of red Converse, Chuck Taylor All Star tennis shoes. Travis’ only comment was “it is about time you got a pair.”
2. I knew right then that I was taking myself too seriously. That is the second thing I learned from Travis last year.
Travis will graduate with the Class of 2026. I will be 76 and my shoe size will still be the same. I am forever reminded to take what we do for and with our students very seriously. Remembering that our decisions, words, and behaviors have implications on how our students learn and grow.
Travis’ mom called my office on a Wednesday last May to make sure that I was at the “drop-off” line when they arrived on Thursday. It didn’t take long to find out why. Travis, hoppedout of the van sporting new red tennis shoes – size 1 – one tied and one untied. He handed me a large envelope and said “this is for you.” Inside I found a book Pete the Cat, Rocking in My School Shoes, by Eric Litwin. For those of you who don’t know, Pete wears red tennis shoes – “just like you and me Dr. P” said Travis. Travis signed the book with his first and last name. So did his mom.
3. I learned from Travis how important it is to “give every child every ounce of your energy, decision-making skills, every day regardless of their life away from school.”
Travis is a symbol for all the kids in Northview that we educate and care for each day. So many of our kids, like Travis, come from homes who have parents that kiss them good-bye each morning, and tell them they are loved. They are partners with our staff. Some of our kids have experienced the tragedies presented by society that no adult should have to cope with let alone a seven year old child.
4. Wear your red tennis shoes every Thursday just because you told me you would.
Travis, my life coach, shared many lessons last year but perhaps number four (4) is the most important of all.
Build strong relationships and never give up! Just because you told me you would!
Sincerely and With Great Respect,
Mike Paskewicz, Superintendent