THAYER -- Rod Priest has taken over the duties of Thayer school superintendent. Bill Garrison retired after many years of teaching and working as superintendent at Thayer.
Priest started as an educator in Doniphan where he taught third grade for six years. From there, he was hired as elementary principal at Mountain View-Birch Tree Elementary. He worked there for four years. The last three years, Priest, his wife Marcia and son Joshua have called Thayer home. He has been principal at Thayer Elementary School the last three years.
Priest is excited about his new position.
"Most organizations and businesses develop mission statements. Ours is 'Providing a foundation for life long learning.' This means we inspire and develop students to think; we encourage them, and we prepare them to enter adulthood," the superintendent said.
He said when he looks back at his own school years, there were several favorite teachers that left a great impression. "I remember very little of what they taught me. What I do remember is that I could tell they really cared about me and encouraged me to not only do well but to take chances even though at times I failed," he said.
Priest said he has a theme for this school year, Whatever It Takes. "Whatever it takes to make our students and our school successful. If it is good for the future of our children, I will do everything I can to help our teachers make this happen," he said.
Priest said that among educators, when you talk about improving instruction, you don't often hear much about coaches. "We can learn a lot from a successful coach and we are fortunate to have had some successful coaches here at Thayer," he said.
Priest said coaches understand how to inspire and motivate students. They form bonds and develop a sense of team work where everyone on the team has a purpose and a feeling of importance.
"They understand what skills are essential and work continuously to develop them until mastery. Practice, practice, practice," the superintendent said.
He said the third thing coaches do is use data. Priest said hours are spent observing students during practice and on game tapes to discover strengths and weaknesses and adjust practice and strategies to address the weaknesses and take advantages of their strengths.
"Last but not least, they provide individualized instruction, and value the time they have for practice. Although they may teach the group the play, they work one-on-one with each player to fine tune the individual for the success of the whole team."
He said he would like to see teachers apply these principles in the classroom.
Priest said some new staff members have joined the ranks of the Thayer School District. New teachers at the elementary school are Jayleen Ryan and Kim Davis as third grade teachers and Linda Armstrong is the new school nurse. Mark Pitts will be teaching personal finance and keyboarding at the high school. Beth Barns is teaching high school math and Jennifer Hyde is teaching high school English.