Back to school
Superintendent is buzzing with energy
as classes resume Wednesday
Sam Green/Cortez Journal Harley Brace visits with the Kemper Elementary mascot while her mother,
“Everyone comes back knowing that anything is possible.”
That’s what Montezuma School District Re-1 superintendent Alex Carter said he likes best about the first day of the school. He gave a 45-minute motivational “Back to School Celebration” address to the district’s 400-plus educators Wednesday morning at the Montezuma-Cortez High School auditorium.
“It doesn’t matter what we did last year,” said Carter, who is entering his second year as superintendent. “We’re all exactly in the same spot right now with a chance to be the best that we can be.”
With a bubbly enthusiasm much like that of a student on the first day of school, Carter said he not only wears new clothes on the first day of classes, he also wears a new attitude and a new sense of purpose.
“As educators, we get to reinvent ourselves every year, and that’s what I hope our teachers do as we enter the 2013-2014 school year,” he added. “I love this time of year.”
Overseeing some 220 teachers and 450 support staff, Carter said all play a vital role and impact a child’s life. Whether it’s the bus driver dropping students off at school, the teacher in the classroom with chalk and eraser, the lunch lady ladling out a hot meal or the custodian buffing the hallway floor, all are key in helping to develop and shape a child’s future, he said.
“For some of our students, the best place they can be all day is at school,” Carter said. “It’s the cleanest, safest, happiest and most hopeful place they know.”
In addressing the district’s educators, Carter challenged them to look into the mirror to fully understand and discover who they are and why they are in the profession. Armed with that insight, teachers can create a culture and climate for personal and group success, much like a family, he said.
“A raised hand is emblematic of an engaged student body,” Carter said. “When teachers, parents and the community also raise their hands, then we’ll be able to achieve high expectations. We’re all in this together.”
The attentive audience seemed to be on board with the remarks, giving Carter an optimistic round of applause midway through his address.
One impressed educator, Dan Porter, said he has long been a proponent of developing relationships with his teachers and staff, despite common beliefs that administrators shouldn’t fraternize with employees. Porter serves as principal at both Lewis-Arriola Elementary and Pleasant View Elementary schools.
“I believe we should get to know the teachers and students,” Porter said. “I have a staff that truly is a family, and that allows us to get through the rough times together.”
Carter also warned teachers that setting extremely high expectations for success could sometimes lead to disappointment when failing to hurdle those high bars. Yet, setting low or mediocre hopes for success generally always means that’s all that’s ever achieved, he added.
“Teachers are the solution,” Carter said. “Be an innovator in the classroom. If you fail, then get up, dust yourself off and try again.”
Montezuma-Cortez High School Principal Jason Wayman was most impressed with Carter’s belief in putting children first, saying educators should consider all of a student’s needs rather than simply focusing on core curriculum content standards.
“We need to make sure the kids’ needs are met on a more encompassing basis,” he said.
Wayman also applauded Carter’s commitment to get to know every teacher and educator on a personal level, and said it was good advice that he, too, plans to implement this school year and for the remainder of his career.
“If people know and trust you, then I think they’re willing to go the extra mile for you,” he said.
In closing, Carter revealed a new school year campaign: “Be present. Every day counts.” Aimed at both teachers and parents, Carter said that even with a 90 percent attendance rate, by the time students reach their sophomore year in high school, they’ve already accumulated 180 absences; meaning students would have missed an entire school year.
“Which grade do we want our students to skip?” he questioned in regard to school attendance. “Should we take away third grade? What about fifth grade?”
“Let’s send our kids to school!”
The district’s first day of classes is Wednesday, Aug. 21.