National educational speaker visits with 5 Heartland schools to kick off school year

National educational speaker visits with 5 Heartland schools to kick off school year

SCOTT CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - Hundreds of teachers from five schools in southeast Missouri met with nationally-recognized educational speaker Todd Whitaker about staff motivation, teacher leadership and principal effectiveness.

Whitaker is a professor of educational leadership at the University of Missouri and professor emeritus at Indiana State University. He has spent his life pursuing his love of education by researching and studying effective teachers and principals.

Whitaker first visited with teachers and staff at Kennett School District #39 before north to Scott City to meet up with teachers and staff from Chaffee R-2, Kelly Schools (Scott County R-4), Kelso C-7 and Scott City R-1.

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So he is here just to empower us," Scott City Elementary Principal Keisha Panagos said. "We are ready to step up our game and make an impact."

Whitaker said that teaching is the most important job there is. He spoke to hundreds of thousands of educational leaders around the nation spreading the message of the importance of having confidence.

“What makes the job so difficult is the intensity of the job. There is no such thing as an uninterrupted lunch,” Whitaker said. “What they do matters every single day. It’s trying to get off on the right foot so that we can make sure that we get off on the right foot; so that we can make sure that we treat students and approach our jobs in the right mindset for the entire school year.”

Chaffee Elementary Principal Jennifer Vandeven said this was also an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with teachers from other schools in their surrounding area which have similar demographics.

“They have some unique issues that arise at a smaller school that you’re not necessarily going to have at a larger district,” Vandeven conveyed. “It’s good to have those other administrators and other teachers to lean on that kind of know what we’re going through.”

Kelso C-7 Principal and Special Education Coordinator Debbie Lands said all the educators are there for the common good for students. She said any advice given is one she can use at her school to enhance the classroom for both teachers and students.

"He gives us a lot of tips on how to effectively manage our school but knowing that it's people who come first and not programs we have to offer," Lands said. "So as long as our school can see that it's what they can give back to our climate that really makes the biggest impact that's important."

"The best thing about teaching is it matters. The hardest thing about teaching is it matters everyday," Whitaker added. "Other professions is that it can have more ups and downs but whenever they are working with your children, you want them to make sure you treat students with respect and dignity every single day."

Whitaker has written more than 50 books including the national best seller, ‘What Great Teachers Do Differently’. Other titles include ‘Dealing With Difficult Teachers,’ ‘Ten-Minute Inservice’ and more.

Classes start for students at these five schools later this week.

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