District 81 Superintendent

District 81 Superintendent

To engage constituents and provide open and transparent communication.

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A Life-Changing Experience for Students at LMS

January 13, 2015

The experience that I had today at Lincoln Middle School is difficult to put into words. I witnessed a life-changing experience for more than one student today.  Students walked into the theater this morning anticipating a typical assembly.  They didn’t realize that they would meet “Ray,” a homeless man who was oddly dressed, had a difficult time with speech, and spoke to them about how hard life was for him, being constantly judged.  There was no talking or laughing. The students patiently and respectfully just watched and listened.  Before our eyes, “Ray” literally transformed.  He took off his coat and hat, stood up taller, and began enunciating his words clearly.  Ray was just a character that the real speaker, John Grossman, had created to teach his audience about the dangers of judging a book by its cover, and how it leads to bullying and mistreatment of others.

A moment I will cherish for the rest of my life happened when Mr. Grossman went looking into the audience for one particular student.  He was looking for this young woman because before the assembly began, he was standing alone as “Ray,” in his awkward outfit, clearly out of place and “different”.  The student he was looking for simply had said hello to him and smiled.  He said that as “Ray” most people ignored him or laughed at him.  She did not.  She recognized him as a real person and didn’t judge him. Mr. Grossman said that she had joined a small group of 100 people in the near 25 years that he had been public speaking who had offered a smile and a greeting to him.

I am so proud of this student and all the students at the assembly today.  Mr. Grossman complimented them, letting us know that many places he visits, people laugh at his awkwardness, but none did at Lincoln today.  When Mr. Grossman got deeper into his talk about bullying, he asked for a show of hands of how many students felt that they had a teacher at their school they could go to if they needed to talk.  He was amazed at how many hands went up, and said that this wasn’t typical. He recognized that we have something special in our district!

I believe we do have something special in District 81.  Hearing Mr. Grossman’s words together as a school community made a powerful impact. I can’t stress enough how much we can accomplish when we work together on behalf of the children of this community. As I have always said, District 81 is an amazing place to work and learn because our learning community is filled with passionate educators, hard-working staff,  incredible students and supportive parents. There is a synergy here that is exceptional and I am proud to be part of such a stellar example of excellence.

If you have children at Lincoln, I encourage you to ask them about today’s assembly, and how it impacted them.  I saw students cheering, clapping, and listening so attentively. One sixth grade boy even gave Mr. Grossman a standing ovation!  Let’s keep the momentum of touching the lives of others with support and kindness alive!


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