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FISD Kicks Off New Year with Convocation at Embassy Suites (August, 2006)

Murray BanksMurray Banks, nationally recognized educator and athlete, spends August and September giving motivational speeches to school districts as they begin the new year, but even he was a bit in awe of a district that fills a hotel ballroom with its employees and has an employee number that is equal to a small city in his home state of Vermont.

Banks background includes being an elementary physical education teacher and a high school teacher and administrator, along with having a wife as an educator and a mother as a middle school teacher. In addition he is an iron man triathlon competitor and a world-champion cross-country skier. Such accomplishments and experiences give him a wonderful perspective and the ability to relate to everyone. Even someone as traveled as he, however, couldn’t help but exclaim about how FISD sets itself apart. He commented on the youth of the group, the camaraderie, and the community support he felt.

“You all sit together! Now it isn’t odd for the elementary teachers to sit together, but middle school and high school people don’t do that,” he said, scanning the audience where his eyes alighted on the Liberty High School teachers in their red shirts and balloons marking where they sat. “That is unlike any high school I’ve ever seen. It is really out-of-character with the balloons.” He also noted that Frisco High School, who brought blue pom-poms were unusually upbeat for high school staff.

Banks’ talk focused on keeping upbeat and positive for a teacher’s entire career and not letting the excitement of a new year and new students fall by the wayside by April. He illustrated his points with humorous cartoons but was very serious about the importance of a teacher to a student, particularly the student who may not have a healthy home life or is not achieving his or her full potential. How that teacher interacts with a student, inspiring that student to learn and to become a strong adult is important. “Who you are is more important than what you know,” he said. “Your life comes to school with you and leaks out all day.”

Banks was witness to the spirit and community love shared in FISD when he met the school board, who each had a word of encouragement for the employees, and teachers such as Sue Stafford, who currently works at the Student Opportunity Center.

Stafford addressed the group, thanking her colleagues for supporting the teen leadership project last spring. The district and the teen leadership classes gave Stafford’s house an extreme make-over. Stafford has worked in the community for years helping others, allowing her own home to be neglected. “Some of you didn’t even know me and you participated,” Stafford noted, adding that she knows the teen leadership programs in the coming year will be very successful because of the awareness of what the program does.

Dr. Rick Reedy, FISD Superintendent of SchoolsBanks encouraged the entire faculty to have feeling for their students, such as he felt when Stafford addressed the group. “Attitude affects everything we do,” he said, “Avoid group griping. Stay focused on student achievement – what you focus on expands.”

Superintendent Rick Reedy welcomed the more than 1,600 teachers and 3,000 total employees who make up the FISD team and remarked that Frisco is still the fastest growing district in the state, with an enrollment that expected to reach 24,000 by October. The growth is demonstrated by the contrast of 989 seniors compared to 2,557 entering kindergarten students.