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Back to School Celebration motivates teachers
Gary Anderson, creator of One District, One Book, talks about the community-wide literacy program coming to Great Bend this fall. He was one of two nationally acclaimed educators featured at Great Bend USD 428s Back to School Celebration for teachers and staff. - photo by photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Ever have that dream where you’re back in high school?
Great Bend High School was full of adults Thursday morning, including former Principals Don Halbower and Joyce Carter. They filled the Commons Area as they lined up for breakfast, then walked to the GBHS Auditorium for an assembly where they would recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
At least no one had to remember a locker combination or take a test. The occasion was the Back to School Celebration for the 700-plus employees of Great Bend USD 428, as well as school board members and other guests. Retired teachers were also invited, which explained the presence of former principals. Carter was there in that capacity and as the president of the school board.
The GBHS Marching Band performed, and then Superintendent Brad Reed welcomed everyone back.
“Last year was an outstanding year by any measure,” he said. “We want to make this year even better than last year.”
There were also remarks by Carter and by the president of the Great Bend-National Education Association, Beth Ryan. Principals introduced new employees.
Two nationally known educators delivered motivational talks in the morning, followed by more in-depth teacher training in the afternoon.
The first speaker was Gary Anderson, creator of the One District, One Book literacy program. This fall, Great Bend will become the first Kansas school district to implement the educational program. By Halloween, people throughout the community will be reading “The World According to Humphrey,” by Betty G. Birney.
A mascot Humphrey the Hamster, star of the book, made a quick appearance on stage Thursday. He will also be appearing at Great Bend schools in September.
“(The program) should be called One District, One Story,” Anderson said. A good story captivates readers, and makes them want to know what happens next. He cited studies that show children do better in school and in life if they are exposed to books and reading in their homes as well as in school. “Children benefit from family literacy,” he said.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Monte Selby, brought a guitar and was joined on stage by fellow musician Larry Clyman. He entertained teachers with songs like “Wiped Out,” a ballad “for every parent who has ever heard a 4-year-old scream, ‘Wipe Me!’” Selby is an educator, author, songwriter and global motivational speaker from Denver, Colo.
Good songs, like good teachers, are unforgettable and engaging, Selby said.
“I think the stories you tell make a huge difference,” he told the school employees. He promised that in the afternoon session with instructors, “we’ll talk about teaching that gets stuck in peoples’ heads.”