XENIA — Speaking to Xenia Community Schools teachers for the first time without the “pro tem” title in front of his name, superintendent Denny Morrison implored his fellow educators to give their students an “Oh, wow” moment when school starts Monday.
During a Wednesday morning assembly in the Xenia High School auditorium, Morrison — who received a standing ovation and raucous ovation when introduced — told the teachers to do something memorable that very first day. He encouraged social studies teachers to dress up like a historical character. He told science teachers to make some noise — literally.
“Have an explosion that first day,” Morrison said. “Make it a small explosion, we don’t want anybody to get hurt.”
That’s an “Oh, wow” moment according to Morrison — who on Aug. 1 became the school’s official superintendent after serving as superintendent pro tem since February.
“Bring a personal connection,” he said. “Throw out your lesson plan. Get to know your kids. I don’t want to see a lesson plan next week. Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Give your kids dreams and goals.”
With nearly 4,500 students set to walk into one of the district’s schools, teachers and staff must be ready to adapt to the changing curriculum and the changing pupil. During his pep-talk like speech, Morrison cited a book about change by Michael Fullan, showing clips from various movies such as “Dirty Dancing” and “Dances with Wolves” to illustrate various aspects of change.
In addition to 40 new teachers and staff members who were recognized, the schools now offer a virtual academy for non-traditional students. There is a STEM science class at both middle schools and advanced math and digital literacy at Central Middle School. Music has been restored at all elementary schools, which will also feature digital literacy.
Everything is geared at improving the students’ educational experience.
“Don’t ever underestimate the part and the roles you play in the life of our young people,” Morrison said.
Before Morrison spoke, Xenia Community Schools Foundation Executive Director Barbara Stafford said that more than $19,000 in grants have already been awarded for the upcoming school year, continuing the upward swing of money awarded the last two years.
Administrative Specialist Mark Manley recognized teachers and staff who have reached or surpassed the 30-year plateau. They are: John Mantia, Katherine Gerspacher, Kelly Russell, Beth Kloos, Patrick Marrinan, Zavaan Johnson, Brenda Shelton, Kathryn Abel, Kent Anderson, Donald Avery, April Duff, Mark Smith, Jodi Yaney, Brenda Langford, Carol Alexander and Judy Allex.
Scott Halasz is covers Xenia and Greene County for the Xenia Daily Gazette. He can be reached at 937-502-4507.