Straight Talk by Baker Kurrus, October 2, 2015

Does it get boring every time I say, “This has been a very interesting week.”?

We came to terms on a conditional contract to acquire 23 acres and some buildings that might work as a middle school.  If we can use the facilities, and make the numbers work, we will proceed.  If the property is not suitable, or if the economics are unworkable, we will keep working.  I was out walking the property early one morning.  A couple drove up and asked me if this was where the new school was going to be.  I told them that we have a lot of work to do before I can answer that question. 

Little Rock School District also needs to proceed with planning, design and construction of a new facility in southwest Little Rock.   Previous  plans were based on a tax  increase,  but I think we can probably make the numbers work without a millage.  Our competitors are on the march, and we must move out boldly.  The Civic Advisory Committee will work to get the community engaged with respect to our plans.   I am assembling  a district planning and execution team.  I will also have a budget projection for the two projects very soon.  The budget will tell the story.

Last Wednesday I went to Wakefield Elementary, home of the Wakefield Wildcats.  The school was holding a rally for a very special young man who is a student there.   He is bravely facing a health challenge, and the school raised over $4,200 to assist him.  He is a fighter.  He is going to prevail.  He looked thin and maybe a little tired, but he was smiling, and his eyes had a certain sparkle-- a little glint, like a tiger.   In the mornings at schools we have a minute of reflection time.  I will remember him in my reflection time.  I don’t want to change the name of the Wakefield mascot, but I am calling him the Wakefield Tiger.

On Thursday  I went to the student council meeting at J. A. Fair High School.  I have told you before that they are an amazing bunch, and I feel more strongly about them as I am around them more frequently.  I also saw some of them at their Senior Breakfast last week.  We have some marvelous young people who excel in school, hold down steady jobs, help a lot around their homes, and are fun to be around.   I asked each of them to do his or her best, and to inspire one other student to also do the same.  They were listening, and they will do this.


That same day I welcomed 54 City Year Members officially to our district.  They work as tutors, aides and mentors for our students.  I sang a little of the Earth, Wind and Fire song,  September (“Do you remember, the 21st day of September…”).  When I am in schools I always see City

Year people  “chasin’ the clouds awaaaaaayay….”





Friday we had an appreciation lunch for grandparents.  These are folks who are active in their grandchildren’s schools.  I thanked them, and I told them to keep inspiring their grandchildren.  I also asked them to reach out to other students who might not have an inspirational grandparent.  They will do it, and they will encourage a lot of our students to accomplish more.

I then told the group a little about how my grandmother, Madeline Baker, was such an inspiration to me.  She had a lot of challenges, and she never whined or complained.  She worked in grocery stores all of her life, usually behind the meat counter.  She was country tough, with a soft side.  When she lost both of her legs, a young doctor told her that she would have to move to a nursing facility.  I was there when she said she was going home.  He said that she couldn’t get by without full-time nursing care.  She stared at him with her beautiful hazel eyes and said, “You hide and watch me.”    Even though her legs were gone,  her arms were strong.  She could pick herself up, and with a few modifications to her little  duplex apartment,  she was able to get along just fine. 

Determined people can do amazing things.  When I go in schools I see a lot of determination.  I see it in teachers, administrators, and students.  I see it clearly in our administrative team.  We had some real successes this week, and we also had some real disappointments.  We are determined to keep our focus, and it will pay off in the long run.

I saw youthful potential and promise in the eyes of Fair students.  I saw exuberance in the eyes of the City Year members.   I saw kindness in the eyes of grandparents.  I saw the smiling face, and the steely eyes, of the Wakefield Tiger.  I remembered the country lady who did something that others said was impossible.

These people inspire me. Be an inspiration. 


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