Ocean City Today

Educators kick off fall with rally

By Kara Hallissey | Aug 31, 2017
Photo by: Kara Hallissey

(Sept. 1, 2017) The Performing Arts Center on 40th Street in Ocean City was packed with teachers, custodians, secretaries, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other employees of Worcester County Public Schools for a pep rally on Tuesday morning to celebrate the start of school next week.

“You play an important role in the lives of our kids and everyone in this room is valued,” said Superintendent Lou Taylor. “I challenge you this morning as we begin a new year to build relationships with every one of your children. Love them, encourage them and greet them with a smile. Let them know you are there for them every day.”

The superintendent choked back tears as he told the audience about a third grader who took cover from the rain in his car while waiting for the school bus with no jacket on.

“I challenge you to go above and beyond your teaching talents,” Taylor said. “Be a game changer and step out of your comfort zone.”

Maryland Principals of the Year, Annette Wallace of Pocomoke High School, and Michael Brown, of Pocomoke Elementary School, each said a few words of encouragement to the audience before introducing the keynote speaker Baruti Kafele.

Kafele, a nationally known motivational speaker who was a teacher for more than 20 years and a principal for 14 years, has delivered more than 1,000 keynote addresses on education.

“Teachers are the most important profession on the planet,” Kafele said. “All other professions have to go through a teacher.”

Kafele explained how some children come to school with overwhelming challenges, which makes it hard for them to focus and be excited about learning.

“[Students] need to walk into an oasis every day, full of promise and hope,” Kafele said.

He challenged all staff members to make an impact in the lives of children.

“Cafeteria workers are not just serving lunch. Give [students] a word of encouragement to get them through the day,” Kafele said. “Maintenance workers and custodians are not just cleaning and fixing a building. They are motivating and inspiring.”

In addition, Kafele explained how attitudes make the difference in success.

“Teachers, the power is in your and your students’ attitudes,” Kafele said. “There will be difficult days, but it all boils down to attitude. Never lose sight of the younger version of yourself and the passion you bring to your craft. It needs to be evident to everyone that this is what I do. This is what I am.”

Kafele concluded his speech by asking the audience a couple of rhetorical questions from his book, “The Teacher 50: Critical Questions for Inspiring Classroom Excellence.”

“Are my students at an advantage because I am their teacher? Why do I teach? Where will your students be 10 years from now as a result of having you as their teacher? Do or will your students see in you or through you who and what they can become? What is the evidence you want to see these kids succeed?

“There is an energy you have to bring that has to burn from now to graduation day,” Kafele said. “How much commitment are you willing to make?”

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