It was a huge pep rally, but not for the students. No, this time it was the educators and staff from every school in the Liberty County School System inside the gym at Bradwell Institute, dancing, cheering and getting all pepped up for the new school year.
The July 28 convocation featured a special guest speaker , National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell.
Russell, a history teacher at Oberlin High School for the past 20 years, said he was invited to Liberty County by his friend and fellow Ohioan, Dr. Zheadric Barbra, the LCSS deputy superintendent.
Russell said returning to work and a new school year always starts with excitement, “which is wonderful,” he said.
“It is absolutely great. But I have a question for you, and the question is quite simple: What do you do to keep this energy during difficult times?” He said educators are facing difficult situations almost daily with the ongoing pandemic, racial divides, bullying, school shootings and political discord. But he said they are the ones making a difference in the lives of so many children across the nation. He said he’s been traveling across the nation and speaking about the quality of the many educators in the U.S. His message is to place students first and promote diversity among educators.
Dr. John Ryan, executive director of technology and media for Liberty County Schools, led the inspiration portion of the event. He said this was going to be the best year for the students and teachers. “We are going to make a difference,” he said. “This year will be a year students will talk about, teachers will talk about and administrators will talk about, because this year is going to be totally awesome.”
“We are one,” Board of Education Chair Lily Baker said to the crowd. “We all join together to make things happen for our children.”
Baker is retiring in December after serving the Liberty County School System and its students and staff for 47 ye ars. Baker was an educ at or for 31 years and served as the board chair for the past 16 years.
Verdell Jones was elected to be the next board chair following Baker.
Russell recently had the opportunity to meet with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at the White House, calling the experience “surreal.” He said he hopes many educators get the same opportunity.
“I am so blessed and humbled for the opportunity, just to represent teachers throughout this great nation,” Russell said. “One thing about being the National Teacher of the Year, many think that means the best teacher of the year, but that is not the case at all. I’ve just been recognized and selected as someone who enjoys teaching, who believes in students first and who believes in the power of education.”
Students returned to school on Tuesday, Aug. 2.