As I’ve reflected on the 15 years as Newkirk Elementary’s principal, there are many things for which I am thankful.
First, thank you to the superintendents I have served under, Carl Barnes, Steve Stanley, Brady Barnes and Scott Kempenich. You have all had my back and taught me so much. The school board has been super supportive over my years here. They put in innumerable hours for no pay and a lot of complaining. Thanks to all that have served the last 15 years. I know it is sometimes a thankless ‘job.’
The Peel Foundation has supported numerous initiatives amounting to tens of thousands of dollars over the years. Many thanks to the people who serve on that committee. You made Newkirk Elementary a better school with your financial support. The Newkirk Education Foundation, chaired for years by Charlie Blair, has put thousands of dollars into each classroom over the years. Our PTO is small but mighty. They treat our teachers very well not only putting on a stellar Teacher Appreciation Week but also reimbursing teachers for classroom expenses.
The churches in this community support the school in so many ways from providing clothes, food and shoes to our students, to candy bars to the teachers and staff, money for out-of-pocket classroom supplies, volunteering in our school and providing meals to the parents who participate in our parenting classes. What a great partnership the churches are as they serve us and our families! Know that you are making a difference in so many lives.
The Lion’s Club is always willing to provide assistance when asked from buying us our first picnic table to purchasing glasses for some of our kids. The businesses in town have always stepped up when asked from providing bicycles to reward academically excelling students (Tiger Pride Car Wash, River Ridge Construction, Newkirk Dental Center), providing free-food coupons for rewards (Sonic and Subway) and Equity Bank (formerly Eastman National Bank) has provided breakfast for professional development for years as well as Oklahoma quarters for every student when they were released.
I would like to add the police officers and firefighters who come to eat lunch with our kids, who use good behavior tickets that they’ve earned to buy that opportunity.
I can’t leave out the native tribes. Tonkawa Tribe (Native Lights Casino) has provided water for our Fall Carnival and for the students during testing week. Kaw Nation helped us with finalizing our after-school grant and provided hats, water bottles and bags for the Big Blast. The Chamber of Commerce has provided breakfast for years during professional development days. Apple Market has helped us find good prices as well as provided food for the Fall Carnival. They’ve also collected school supplies for us. There have been numerous businesses in town that have donated items or gift cards for Bingo Prizes or contributed to our silent auction items.
Last but certainly not least, I am indebted to the staff of Newkirk Elementary for trusting me to lead. You are an exemplary staff that works diligently to give kids what they need and more. I could not have asked for a better group of people to work with. You are going to continue doing great things under Ms. Choate’s leadership.
Newkirk patrons should know when I’ve gone to recruit teachers, I’ve used all the reasons above to convince teachers to come to Newkirk to teach. And as you probably know, there isn’t much turnover at Newkirk Elementary. We had an unprecedented five staff members leave this year and four of them are due to retirements!
In closing, I can’t express enough thanks for the abundance of prayers, cards, notes and messages I received while fighting cancer last school year. I am doing well and so far have had good scans and reports. You have truly shown me the value of a small town. I have enjoyed my time being a part of your wonderful community. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to lead your elementary school and forever be a Newkirk Tiger in my heart!