Straight Talk by Baker Kurrus, August 14, 2015


On Monday morning I put on my workout gear and went to one of our high schools.  I arrived at about 5:15 a.m. to see some coaches organizing gear, other coaches working on practice preparation, and others setting up equipment on the football field.

By 5:30 a.m. lots of young men, and several young women who are managers, were arriving.  Some looked a little sleepy, but they showed up ready to go to work.   By 5:45 a.m., lots of people were sweating, including me.  Whistles were blowing.  Hands were clapping during calisthenics.  Coaches were teaching, and players were learning.   I am not sure that the average citizen of Little Rock understands the pride and dedication that our students and coaches exhibit. 

Athletic practice may be education in its simplest form.  The hard work, the preparation, the dedication and the effort pay off in visible ways.  Some students really thrive academically when they make the connections that athletics provides.   

We owe it to our students to provide them with the same academic and athletic facilities that students have in surrounding school districts.  We can accomplish this if we work together.

I have been to a lot of schools this week.  I was at Jefferson before 7:00 a.m. I saw incredible teachers working hard.  I saw classrooms that are set up and ready.  At 7:30 a.m. I spoke to our special education transportation folks.  I sang a few lines from “Magic Bus.”  We laughed, but I also told them that their jobs are critical to academic success, and that we appreciate them very much.  Our folks have worked tirelessly to get our buildings ready for the students who will show up on Monday.  Everyone pitches in.   I wish I could have been in every school to thank all who have worked so hard to get ready for this year.  If I was not able to thank you personally, please know how important your preparation has been, and how much I appreciate you.  Our community needs to stop and think about how much work goes in to getting ready for school.  Thanks to all the LRSD team. 

Dedication: We have many examples of dedication in our school district.  I want to share some thoughts that were given to me about one of our precious teachers.

“She was wonderful with the kids. “

“She turned other people’s junk into treasures.”

“Her room was across from mine for 28 years.  I am going to miss her so much. Everyone remembers the big purple crayon outside her room.”

“She was a mentor to me.  When I started teaching art she helped me so much… Until I went to her funeral I had no idea that she had helped so many other teachers…”

“She was so creative… She made everything fun, and every kid was an artist in her eyes.”

“She was the lady with the cool art stuff… “ 

“She put LRSD on the map in the art world, all over this country… really all over the world.”

“She was so enthusiastic, and willing to help everyone.”

“I loved her very much….and she always found the kids who needed help, and she gave them confidence.   That confidence made a difference in everything the kids did.”

“It is going to hit me so hard when I walk my kids down to the room with the purple crayon…..”

“She was so dedicated.”

Never let anyone say, “I am just a teacher.”

Teaching is eternal.  Teaching is the very essence of civilization.  Teachers reach into the future and change the world.  Some would say that a person can change the future by inventing something, or building something.   These things are true, but inventions and innovations really only change the way we do things.  Teachers change who we are.   Teachers change the world a little bit every time they inspire a kid to be something different—to be something more, or to be something better.    When you add up the changes, the difference is enormous, especially when you do it day in and day out, without fail, for 28 years and for thousands of children.

She changed the world.  What a life well-lived.   


Susan Turner Purvis.  1948-2015.


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