Tragedy brings out the best of the community

What a GREAT day it is to be a WILDCAT! Thankfully the weather this week has been much better than what we experienced just a week ago.

As I thought about what to share this week I wanted to take a moment to focus on our wonderful team, along with the wonderful communities we serve.

No one ever wants to see or be a part of something tragic, but unfortunately, we don’t always get to choose whether or not we participate. Sometimes we are just thrown in and have to figure out how to survive.

Dan Decker

However, it is in these times that we get to see people’s resolve, their grit, their determination to make things work no matter what, a time when failure is not an option.

That is what I was fortunate enough to be a part of last week when one of our schools, Goodman Elementary, was destroyed by a tornado. From the moment the tornado was over, we had school staff onsite assessing for damage, making sure no one was hurt, and beginning the planning process.

Our administrative team moved from Goodman Elementary to the Central Office to begin the planning process, where they were joined by board members. This process carried on into the early morning hours with many plans being laid out, discussed, and reworked — all the while the one driving factor was that no matter what, we were going to do what was best for our students.

By the time dawn’s early light hit, a plan was in place and ready to communicate with our District team. I was amazed to see our Goodman teachers embrace the plan, knowing it wasn’t going to be easy, but willing because they knew it was what was best for their kids.

From that point on they rolled up their sleeves and worked with a resolve that made me know we were going to be successful.

On Thursday morning, district teachers, support teams, administrators, and board members, arrived early in the morning to move all salvageable materials from Goodman to their new locations. By Thursday evening things were moved into buildings or storage, and ready for cleaning the following day. There was no way this could have been accomplished without each and every person and all of their hard work.
On Friday, teachers and more volunteers showed up and began cleaning, wiping down materials, and helping put things in place in order to have everything ready for students on Monday.

The Goodman team also worked tirelessly over the entire weekend to make sure their students would have an amazing experience when they arrived to the “new” classrooms. I can tell you without a doubt that I have never been more proud to be a part of a group of people working beyond themselves!
On Monday morning, I was just as excited if not more than I am on the first day of a new school year. I was able to be in the parking lot to welcome students and families to their first day at their new school location.

It was awesome to see the smiling faces of students and see their anticipation of the great things that awaited them. The Goodman and Central Office teams greeted them with smiling faces, hugs, and the reassurance that everything was going to be okay.

It was great to see the learning taking place and hear the sound of children’s voices ringing through the halls of the Central Office. I left the office on Monday evening knowing that as a district we were doing what is best for our students, and looking forward to the many great days we have ahead.

In my final thought for this week, I want to give a huge shout out to the NSD team. We had a major tragedy hit our district, but through the resolve of many great people, we were able to make plans, execute plans, and get students back into class with only two school days missed.

To our Goodman team, I want to say thank you, thank you for being heroes. A hero is defined as a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities, a person of superhuman qualities.

You are all heroes, not only to your students, but to your coworkers and community as well.

We are Wildcat Nation and together, we will rise!

Have a great week!

By Dan Decker

(Dan Decker is superintendent of the Neosho R-5 School District. He can be reached at 451-8600 or deckerdan@neoshor5.org.)

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