Copperas Cove ISD staff gather for convocation ahead of new school year

Cove Leader-Press

Teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators from all 11 campuses in the Copperas Cove Independent School District gathered together in the Lea Ledger Auditorium at the Copperas Cove High School Friday morning for the annual Convocation to get pumped up and excited for the new school year. 
CCISD teachers and staff have been hard at work preparing for the incoming students for the 2019-2020 school year. Just days before an estimated 8,200 students fill the halls of each campus, CCISD employees heard from CCISD Board of Trustees President Joan Manning, Education Foundation President Etta Kay Kirkpatrick, district Superintendent Joe Burns and motivational speaker Jonathan Sprinkles as part of the annual event to set the mood and tone for the new school year. 
“We’re here of course to celebrate you, our teachers and staff, and prepare everyone for this school year,” Manning told the packed auditorium. After introducing each board member, Manning shared that each had come up with words or phrases to describe what makes and “exceptional” teacher using each letter of the word “teacher.”
Manning’s response included the words talented, encourager, advocate, caring, humorous, enthusiastic and respectful.
“I know that all of you realize that exceptional teachers have exceptionally high expectations,” Manning said. “We all believe that every one of you is exceptional and will create a caring, loving, challenging, helpful, encouraging, innovative, empowering atmosphere in each of your classrooms this year. You make the difference in our students’ lives.”
Kirkpatrick shared about what the Education Foundation does and reminded teachers of the deadlines for the grant applications and the rest of what the Foundation does. 
After acknowledging the new staff members and a bit of teasing regarding the teachers and administrators who switched campuses over the summer, Burns shared a message of encouragement to the more than 1,000 employees filling the Lea Ledger Auditorium Friday morning. 
 “We are glad to have you back,” Burns said. “For you new folks that are here with us, you have joined an exceptional team and I want you to know how proud we are to have you. God has put you in the right spot and He has a plan and a purpose for each one of us and that plan and purpose involves reaching, teaching and touching the lives of young people in a miraculous way and creating a positive influence.”
Burns encouraged staff members to be givers and not takers and to be a positive difference maker in the life of a child. 
“I want to challenge you to prove yourself to be a teacher,” Burns said. “Reach, teach and touch the most challenging, the most difficult, the most incapable to become the person they have the ability to be. Only then and only when we do that can we say we’re successful.”
Burns told the audience that they will have days where they will probably go home questioning their career choice after a hard day. He encouraged them to come back the next morning and try all over again. 
“Everybody can’t do what you do,” Burns said. “Everybody’s not called to do what you do and if you’re any good at it, folks, I believe you’re called. I believe you’ve been touched with the grace of God and given a special talent and if you’ve been gifted that…don’t waste it.”
Friday morning’s guest speaker was Jonathan Sprinkles. Sprinkles shared the story of Florence Chadwick, who was determined to swim the 26 miles between Catalina Island to the California coastline in 1952. After 15 hours of swimming, a thick fog rolled in and Chadwick began to doubt her ability to finish and swam for another hour before stopping. She later found out she was one mile from her destination. Two months later, Chadwick tried again, and continued through the fog, reaching her destination. Sprinkles shared this story and encouraged teachers and staff members to remember the message about continuing despite the fog, with the help of CCISD cafeteria manager Lorrie Hornaday as Chadwick and four other CCISD teachers acting as the fog on stage. 
In addition to making the audience laugh, Sprinkles shared details of his life and childhood, growing up in South central Los Angeles with his mother and siblings following his parents’ divorce. He shared his mother’s story of perseverance in finding her way back to teaching. Her teaching certification had expired and needed to be renewed. She had to take the California Basic Skills test, with three portions for reading, writing and math. Sprinkles shared that his mother took the reading test and passed with flying colors, took the writing test and passed with flying colors, and took the math test and failed. 
His mother ended up taking the test 11 times before passing, he said. She is now known as Dr. Shirley Sprinkles. 
“I share this story with you, especially today, because I want you to know that whatever your dream is, whatever those things are that put you in the boat in the first place, whatever it was that got you up this morning, whatever it was that made you believe in the power of swimming again to where you need to get to, whatever your shore looked like, I want you to remember that it’s still possible,” Sprinkles said. “That we cannot tell our students that you can do anything if we settle for less ourselves. We cannot tell our students that anything is possible until we can go out and show them what it’s like.”

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