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SHELBYVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Ryan Scott isn’t from Shelbyville originally, but it’s still “home.”

“My wife was born and raised in Shelbyville,” said Scott, the new principal of Main Street Grade School and the kindergarten center, which is in a building in front of Shelbyville High School. “I met her in college, and I ended up doing my student teaching here, and I taught here for five years, so it kind of feels like home.”

Scott taught middle school science and English in Shelbyville before becoming a principal at Central A&M two years ago. His tenure there was marked with enthusiasm and innovation.

Scott’s plan in Shelbyville, as it was in Assumption, is to be as visible and accessible as possible, building relationships among the school, families and community. He has a Twitter account (@shelbyprincipal), YouTube channel and a new app that includes live feeds for parents to see what’s going on in their child’s classroom.

The first day of school, Superintendent Denise Bence said with a laugh, he tweeted so many times that she lost count.

“He embraces technology and uses it, and it’s so positive,” she said. “Over the summer, we just got the app for our district that will allow us to give parents information and the live feed, and Ryan’s already all over Twitter.”

Bence once held the job that Scott has now, so it’s dear to her heart, she said. When he wanted to move to principal two years ago, Shelbyville didn’t have any openings, and that’s how he ended up at Central A&M. She knew he’d be a top candidate for the next opening, and after interviewing nine candidates for the elementary position, she said, it was clear he was the right one.

“The best job I’ve ever had in my whole life, the job I felt the strongest sense of purpose, joy, love, was being a teacher in this district,” Scott said of Shelbyville.

The Scotts have a 19-month-old daughter, and he said that having her has made him a better educator. He sympathizes even more keenly with parents’ concerns about their children’s education and experiences at school than he did before.

“That’s your baby,” he said. “No matter how old they are, they’re still your baby.”

One thing he has learned, he said, was that the first day of school is not the time to overwhelm kids with rules and expectations. That brushes the bloom from their excitement at being back at school and seeing their friends.

Instead of the first-day assembly like the one he did at Central A&M Middle School, he started this year off with a pep rally focused on how glad the teachers and staff were to see the kids and what a great year they’re going to have. The adults lined up to cheer and give high-fives to arriving kids. The school theme for this year is “Be Nice. Work Hard.”

The rules and expectations will come in phases, and the kids will know what they are, he said, but first he wanted them to simply feel good about coming back to school.

As he did at Central A&M, Scott has plenty of ideas for bringing community and school together. One of those is a monthly character education theme. He has already invited guest speakers to talk to the students about each of the topics, which include self-control, kindness, optimism, enthusiasm and grit.

Everyone he asked to speak said “yes” immediately, he said. Teachers will use material from a children’s book, “The Leader in Me,” that is based on “The Seven Habits of Habits of Highly Effective People.”

He urges teachers to praise the process, not the end result, so that even when a student doesn’t get the right answer, they’re encouraged to keep trying.

Most of all, Scott wants to emphasize that relationships are where it all begins.

“I want to make kids feel they belong here,” Scott said. “I tell them, ‘you’re my crew. This is a great place to be. I’ve got your back.'”


Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review,


Information from: Herald & Review,