In the past five days, I had the opportunity to visit three of the schools that I worked in during my time with CCSD. Visiting each of these schools brought back so many memories, including stories of families, students, teachers and former principals.
It was exciting to drive up to C.C. Ronnow Elementary School to visit the school where my career began 29 years ago. As I walked the building with Principal Chris Popek and Assistant Principal Michelee Crawford, I talked about the rooms I taught in and interacted with amazing staff and students. It was great to talk with first-grade teachers who were collaborating on math standards and pacing with their Math Learning Strategist. I also participated in a roundtable discussion with many fifth-grade students who had prepared many great questions. It forced me to really think about the past and the future at the same time. I sat with Principal Popek and talked about the SB 178 funds that he received from the legislative session. Our future is bright because we have amazing students like those fifth-graders at C.C. Ronnow.
Driving up Stewart Avenue to visit Kirk Adams Elementary School, I couldn’t help but notice how much of the open land that was there in 1991 was filled in with homes and apartments. It reminded me of the growth of the valley since 1988. Principal Mark Connors was waiting in the front of the school, and as I got out of my car, a parent drove past him and handed him a cup of coffee from a coffee shop. It made me appreciate how our schools and their employees are part of our community neighborhoods.
As I walked into the school, I felt the nostalgia sweeping over me. This was a school that I opened as a teacher. We weren’t able to move into the building until the Sunday before school started and we had so many of our teachers and families cleaning the building and setting up classrooms so we could start school the next day. In the conference room, Mr. Connors had a present for me, a quilt that my students, a grandparent and I made together as a class in 1991. We were teaching about families and traditions and each student used mathematical shapes to create their own quilt square. What a thoughtful gesture to help remind me of my time as an “All-Star!”
Doris French celebrated its 40th anniversary on Sept. 23. The event began with a welcome by the current Principal Tammy Villarreal-Crabb who also introduced a video of Lamar Terry, the first principal of Doris French. He talked about many of the programs he started. As the program went on, I looked around the room to see the current students, parents and community members, but what made me the happiest was seeing the numerous teachers with whom I worked during my five years as principal. We laughed and told stories of events that happened while we were there. We couldn’t believe that “Dynamite Dolphins” was started when the school opened and is still a tradition each Friday morning, and we celebrated how much we enjoyed our time at French. It was a true celebration of the rich heritage of not only Doris French, but of many of our schools across the valley.
Many of our employees in CCSD have the same rich history with schools in our district. As time passes, we often forget the little memories of our assignments. It is powerful to go back and remember the best parts of our past while working hard to make the future even brighter!