It’s Gonna be a Good, Good (School) Year!

By: Paula Shipman and Edward Leonard

Black Eyed Peas’ “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good, good night” blasted from the Johnson Williams Middle School sound system as Clarke County Public School’s most valuable resource, its teachers, staff and administrators filled the auditorium seats to celebrate the beginning of a new school year.

“WOW! Welcome to a new school year!” shouted Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy to his revved up audience. “I am amazed at how far we have come and at how much we have grown!”

Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy addresses CCPS's enthusiastic teachers and staff - Photo Edward Leonard

“Together we continue to make a difference in the lives of children,” Murphy said. The audience returned Murphy’s enthusiasm with loud applause.

Clarke County Schools kicked of its new year on Wednesday. All staff met at Johnson-Williams Middle School, in the morning, for a division wide training session on Blood Borne Pathogens and Child Abuse Reporting.

Although the pathogen discussion was a tough act to follow, Clarke County’s new food service management team headed by Sodexo, treated staff to a lunch that many described as “Awesome!”

Cold cut sandwiches on homemade bread were delicious. As was potato salad, chips (baked not fried), and cookies washed down with bottled water and lemonade.

“Sodexo is awesome!” said School Board member Jennifer Welliver. “For years I wanted to see a revolution in our school lunch program. We never would have gotten there without Dr. Murphy and the kids will thank him for years to come for this.”

By the time lunch was over, staff reconvened at 1:00 in the auditorium for Opening Convocation exercises. Assistant Superintendent Rick Catlett and Superintendent Dr. Mike Murphy delivered sincere and well-earned praise to the CCPS for making it all happen.

“Despite the slow and often frustrating process of improving our infrastructure, of bringing innovation and change to our classrooms and offices through technology, and the challenges of declining revenue, you continue to do amazing things for our students and our community,” Murphy said.

Dr. Murphy told the audience that although the projected opening date of the new high school will be August 2012, education isn’t about bricks and mortar.

Sodexo provided an excellent meal for CCPS staff and visitors (l-r) Greg Wethey, George Hegley, Bruce Forgrave, Vickie Mueller and John Gallagher - Photo Edward Leonard

“Education is not about buildings, or improving our infrastructure, or even adding technology to our classrooms,” Murphy said. “Education is about people, both young and old, and the impact that they make on the lives of others. Each of you makes a difference in the lives of children, and I thank you.”

As the ceremonies shifted from future service to past performance Clarke County Education Association (CCEA) President Andy Kiser was joined by Jay Deck, VEA Skyline Uniserv Director, to recognize CCPS personnel who have made the CCPS system great for many years.

Tom McCall, an instructional assistant at Johnson-Williams Middle School, was acknowledged. Mr. McCall has served in education for 56 years. In addition to his role as instructional assistant, he has been a teacher and a coach. Mr. McCall has the additional distinction of having served in the US Army with Elvis Presley for a few, short weeks in Kansas.

Twenty year service recognition included Carol Marshall, Laurie Barbagallo, Glen Cole and Sherry Herlihy, all of whom work at Clarke County High School. JoAnn Leobold from Johnson-Williams was also recognized for her twenty years of service.

Four employees from two schools were honored for twenty-five years of service in education. Boyce Elementary School’s Kathy Hudson and Lee McGuigan and Clarke County High School’s Ed Novak and Chris Parker took the quarter-century honors.

Boyce Elementary school took informal honors for “Most Enthusiastic Cheering section. As Boyce colleagues were honored other Boyce employees stood, waved posters in the air and, at one point, even a Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towel was seen waving in the air.

Three employees were recognized for 30 years of service; John Bodmer from transportation, Judy Sallgren from Boyce Elementary School, and Cari Simon of Johnson-Williams Middle School.

Last, but certainly not least, Peggy Wampler from Johnson-Williams Middle School and Judy Whiting from Boyce Elementary School were recognized for 35 years of service. The two women were treated to standing ovation and thunderous applause from their colleagues.

At the conclusion of the formalities, Dr. Murphy introduced funny-man and guest speaker of the 2010-2011 Convocation, Tim Clue. Clue has a double Masters Degree in Communication and Performance and possibly a PhD in making people laugh. The comedian has  worked with Chicago’s Second City and performed in Las Vegas. Clue, whom some in the audience agreed looked like “Snap” on the Rice Krispies box, or perhaps it is “Waldo,” or maybe, Harry Potter after a hard night out. Really though, Tim Clue isn’t funny looking at all, but his humor had the audience laughing so hard, there were many tears and lots of fingers pointing. One golden nugget of Clue’s hilarious presentation is to be able to “make fun of yourself.”

Clue is also a former educator having served as a teacher in both the public school setting and at the college level. His message included an enticing blend of comedy and motivations.

Clue began by sharing his “arrival” story with the audience.

“I landed at the airport and went to get a rental car, which of course was equipped with a GPS system,” Clue told the audience.

“I typed in the words ‘Berryville, Virginia’ and the GPS then asked, ‘Are you sure?’”

The auditorium erupted into giggles.

Tim Clue's clean comedy made Convocation 2010 a memorable event - Photo Edward Leonard

The primary gift of Clue’s message was perspective—both in how you look at yourself and how you interact with children.

“Not only does each one of you have a story. You are about to create stories that these children will tell their children.  How do you want to be remembered?” Tim Clue asked. “Remember that sometimes students need a little wiggle room,” Clue said. “Trust them, help them out. Give them a second chance. Have some fun.

Because everyone in this room and everyone you know has a ‘teacher’ story.”

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  1. I just thought I’d add my two cents – Tim Clue is hilarious! He came to our convocation, too, and really had an impact on our event. His website has all the contact info if you want to use him, too, which I highly recommend. My husband is thinking about using him for his holiday party at the office, too, which his website says he does. Just a great show.

  2. Oh – and here’s the site: