Slogans matter. Lesson learned.
“Remember the Alamo” inspired me in my youth, making me more brave and setting me on a life course never to give up.
“Love one another” taught at home and in church made me a kinder, gentler person.
So when I saw the poster right in front of the Buckhannon-Upshur Auditorium podium on August 8, 2019, during our opening assembly for the 2019-2020 academic year, I paid close attention:
“When You Enter This School,
You are Accepted
You are Valued
You are Strong
You are Loved
You are Important
You are Respected
You are Cared For
You are Safe
You are Understood
You are Essential
. . . and
We are Here!”
Upshur County Schools students will test such a bold statement placed so prominently before the Board of Education employees. They will naturally be skeptical. That’s okay, because that will remind us all why we support public education, giving equal opportunity to all students.
My first reaction to the poster was to remember the words spoken over nine years ago by our own Grande Dame of Kindergarten Teachers—Helen Reger. She not only became our first West Virginia public kindergarten teacher right here in Upshur County, but her great efforts were honored in 1976 after years of teaching kindergarten, earning her recognition as the West Virginia Teacher of the Year. My vivid memory from this dynamic teacher came from when I asked our Buckhannon First United Methodist Church congregation for prayer as I announced that I would run for the vacant seat on the BOE. Feisty as always, Helen Reger approached me after church with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face, tapping her finger on my chest and advising me to “Stir ’em up!”
Master Teacher Reger’s words penetrated deeply into my soul. Since that Sunday in July 2010, they have become my mission. My reason for being on the Upshur County Schools Board of Education is to “Stir ’em up.” My mission is clear.
Now on August 8, 2019, opening day for Upshur County Schools, I hear her once again. I know this year will be all about making certain our students know that indeed they are accepted, valued, strong, loved, important, respected, cared for, safe, understood, and essential, and that indeed we are here!