April 28: National Teacher Appreciation Day

Spotlight on Schools: National Teacher Appreciation Day

April 28, 2017– Hello Black River Falls Community! This is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools! I’d like to take today’s spotlight time to talk about National Teacher Appreciation Day.

Tuesday, May 9, is National Teacher Appreciation Day in the United States. In Black River Falls we have a saying that says “Any adult that interacts with students is a teacher. Your job title does not define whether or not you teach, whether or not students watch your actions determines whether or not you teach.” Because of this, in Black River Falls, we call it Staff Appreciation Day and really work to celebrate all of the staff within the District. This past week we held our annual Spring Banquet. This banquet is one of the only times during the year that we come together as a whole team from all corners of the District. We recognize our staff members for their years of service milestones as well as have a lot of laughs roasting our retirees!

This year we say goodbye to YEARS of experience within the District. Retirement is always a bittersweet time. We are so excited for our colleagues that have earned the opportunity to have freedom of schedule and the time to follow all of those interests that their previous schedule simply didn’t allow for. At the same time, we are disappointed that all of those years of experience and expertise are lost to the profession.

We’d like to celebrate Tom Leadholm – retiring after serving the District for 31 years as a Phy. Ed. Teacher, earlier a Driver’s Ed. teacher, and a coach of many sports throughout the years! We’re also saying goodbye to Tori Bragee who has served our Middle School special education students for 32 years. She gets the biggest kick out of now teaching the students of her previous students. We are also going to miss Mary McCann, who has spent 33 years growing our elementary aged students and building partnerships with the families. As each of these teachers leaves the profession, they take with them the life lessons that only comes with experience. There is an old saying that a teacher never knows where their influence will end. This holds very true! Very seldom do adults take the time to reflect on a teacher that had truly made a difference in their lives, and if they do, it is even rarer that they reach out to that teacher and share that story.

In addition to these outstanding teachers that are retiring this year, we also say goodbye to some long time support staff members. These people work extremely close with our kids and are often the first ones they see in the morning, and the last ones to say “Goodbye” as they load the bus at the end of the day. This spring Del Rae Chenoweth, Holly Smith, and Ann Lindow will say their final farewells to the buses on June 2nd. These ladies have all been special education aides in the District. Del Rae and Holly have been doing this for over 30 years! Imagine the number of student’s lives that have been positively impacted by their efforts! An additional retirement is Theresa Bade. She has been the Business Services Secretary for over 27 years. If you’ve ever called the District Office, chances are she was the friendly voice on the other end of the phone! She is the expert in so many areas that we are trying to figure out a way she could “brain dump” all of her expertise into her replacement.

On Tuesday, May 9th, you will see banners at each of the schools recognizing Staff Appreciation Day! If you happen to see someone that works for the District on or around that day, please share a great memory of the impact a teacher had on your life! We work hard to attract and retain the highest quality staff around! We know that regardless of what programs we bring into our schools, it is the people that do, and will continue to, make all the difference!

The noble profession of teaching is not attracting near as many of our best and brightest young people. I’m asking for your help to change the conversation about public education and show our current educators, and anyone considering entering this noble profession, that we value the work that they do! The Our People pillar of our strategic plan has a goal that says this:

We have a reputation of excellence that helps attract and retain highly qualified staff. We value and appreciate employees who apply their skills and experience to meeting our high expectations and fulfilling our District’s vision.

In keeping with our routine this year of sharing some sunshine each week, I wanted to highlight a comment from our recent Graduate Survey that we administered. A graduate from 2009 had this to say when we asked: “What do you appreciate most about the District?” It feels like a perfect tribute as we discuss Teacher Appreciation!

I feel like the longevity of faculty made a difference for many students (at least for me). For example, my mom graduated in 1978 – Mary Perry was one of her art teachers and I had the privilege of being a student of hers as well. When you keep teachers around who are memorable and love what they do, love the students – it keeps that feeling alive generation after generation. (2009)”

As always, if you have any questions about this or anything else within the district, don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you so much for your support of the School District of Black River Falls! Go Tigers!


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