Setting the bar high

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." - Henry B. Adams

Henry Adams' quote sums up the vitally important role teachers play in a student's life, and I am one who has benefitted personally from a teacher's influence. There is one teacher in particular who helped me discover my natural gift for writing and then challenged me to develop that gift into a career as a journalist. I will be forever indebted to the late Russell Hogan, my high school AP English teacher, who set extraordinarily high standards and then made sure he provided me with the resources I needed to meet and exceed those goals. In essence, Mr. Hogan helped me believe in myself and my writing - what a lasting gift.

This week, I want to write about a local educator who has created a lasting legacy at the Cassville R-IV School District. This is a man who I have grown to respect immensely. As editor of the Cassville Democrat, I reported on numerous programs, activities and accomplishments that occurred during his tenure as principal for the past seven years. I also have first hand knowledge of how he interacts with his students, which I gained through the experiences of my two sons, who both graduated from CHS.

The educator I want to honor is Brad Hanson, who last week announced he will be leaving the R-IV District at the end of this school year to accept the position of director of the Southwest Area Career Center in Monett. I have no doubt Brad will excel in this new position, and I hope the Career Center and the Monett R-I School District realize what a great educational leader they have hired.

While serving as principal of Cassville High School, Brad was able to secure a High Schools That Work grant that has resulted in a number of very positive changes on the high school campus, including mandatory tutoring for students struggling to maintain a C average in class, a more personalized system of student advising and professional development opportunities for teachers to expand their teaching techniques and knowledge. There has also been an increased emphasis placed on literacy. I was very impressed when I sat in an assembly where Mr. Hanson set a goal to read a certain number of books during the year and then challenged members of the student body to exceed his goal. It was also neat to see a list of what books Mr. Hanson had read or was reading written on a sheet that was pasted up outside his office door for all the students to see. That is just one example of Brad's commitment to leading by example.

Under Brad's watch, Cassville High School also earned Bronze Medal award recognition for two years running from "U.S. News and World Report." This award places CHS among a very elite group of the nation's highest performing high schools. This is something that Cassville should be very proud of and an award that raises the value of a Cassville High School diploma.

One of the things I appreciate most about Brad's influence as principal at Cassville High School is that he has set a high bar for student achievement. He believes in educating every single student that walks through the door of the high school, and in my opinion, that translates into a belief that all students have the ability to learn and their potential is limitless. Brad then challenges his teaching staff to find new ways to reach their students and tap into that potential. High expectations are contagious, and there seems to be a renewed emphasis placed on academics and achievement that students are buying into.

Being a high school principal is a very demanding job, and Brad Hanson has handled his responsibilities with humility, fairness and professionalism. I would like to thank Brad for his leadership, for his commitment to excellence and for the example of character and integrity he provided for my two sons and hundreds of other students who were lucky enough to have him as their principal. Brad - we wish you luck as you embark on another stage of your career as an educator - you will be missed and remembered long after you leave the R-IV District.

~ Lisa Schlichtman