By Mary-Justine Lanyon
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The back-to-school breakfast held on Aug. 10 may just have been the most important event of the school year.
The teachers and other staff members heard words of encouragement from a number of speakers and also had the chance to win lots of raffle prizes.
“We all believe students are the reason we’re here,” Bill Mellinger, speaking on behalf of the board of trustees, told the assembled teachers and staff. “Every person here had a moment when they were called to education – from the security guard to administrators, food service personnel to teachers. As a school board, we understand that, to be about the students, we have to be about you. Thank you for what you do.”
In between speakers, Dr. Kimberly Fricker, the newly hired superintendent of the Rim of the World Unified School District, announced the winners of the raffle prizes – gift cards, wellness baskets, a portable fire pit, an emergency kit, a certificate for a dozen cookies, a coffee press, Dodgers tickets, 66ers tickets, SkyPark passes, Blue Jay Cinema tickets, Lake Gregory Co. passes, a printer and two large TVs.
“We know things are going to be tough,” said Ngozi Ogbeni-Lether, president of the teachers’ union. “There’s a lot to improve on. We work together to make sure you get what you need.”
Suzanne Grow, who has served as president of the CSEA for six years, urged everyone to start each day in a positive way. “I appreciate so many people in my life who have supported me. Everyone needs a cheerleader in their life. Give a compliment to a student or a coworker.”
Dr. Fricker began her comments by saying that coming into the Rim district “was one of the most exciting, warm and welcoming experiences” she has had. She told the Rim teachers and staff that she started as a classified employee, then became a science teacher, an assistant principal, a principal, an associate superintendent and then a superintendent.
“There is no greater group of people on the planet than educators,” Dr. Fricker said. “You shape people. You influence people every day.”
Her call to action: “Spread joy. Spread kindness.”
Members of the Rim of the World Educational Foundation were present to hand out back-to-school kits donated by Staples. President Jo Bonita Rains outlined the donations the Foundation has made over the past several years to the AVID program, the CTE/ROP classes and the Partnership with Schools grants.
As the breakfast drew to a close, Dr. Fricker awarded longevity pins – 18 to those who have served Rim for five years; eight to 10-year employees; five to those serving 15 years; eight to 20-year employees; five to those who have served 25 years; and one for 30 years to Stephanie Phillips.