Getting awarded Student of the Month is a big deal. No, really-- it is a big deal--actually, a really big deal. Every year, only nine students get the award. In the four years that you are here, you will have seen only 36 students get awarded Student of the Month. Per year, only 3.4% of the student population can say they were awarded Student of the Month. Like I said, it is a really big deal.
So, how does one get to be a Winthrop High School Student of the Month? I think for many that process is a mystery, so I am going to share the process. Every month, Mr. Morin calls all teachers together for a realllllly longggggg meeting. We talk about everything related to increasing student learning, we also share positive news of Winthrop High School, and work together to problem solve, but the best part of every meeting is when we are able to nominate deserving students for Student of the Month. Teachers take turns nominating members of the student body. Once a teacher nominates his or her choice, that teacher then shares why that student’s name has been brought forth. Most generally, two or three names are suggested and, as a faculty, we are able to discuss the positive attributes that make each student a great candidate for the honor of Student of the Month. Once every teacher who wants to nominate has had an opportunity, all teachers vote on their choice. The student who wins the vote will be awarded by the teacher who nominated. This month, I am that teacher. There, the mystery is no longer a mystery, and now you know why this honor is a really big deal.
I don’t have this student in class, and, honestly, I don’t see this student in the library much anymore. Most seniors enjoy the atmosphere in the lounge or take field trips to rescue underclassmen with coffees from Cumbies or Polar Pops from Circle K during their tutorials and have, quite frankly, moved on from the library, but what I saw most recently from this student made me sure that this student is a really big deal and most definitely deserves this award. So, I brought this student’s name to the last teacher’s meeting and shared this story....
Our very first yearbook meeting was on a Friday afternoon. There was boys’ and girls’ soccer practices and a field hockey and football game scheduled for later that evening. I had about twenty (short) minutes to share the initial information about yearbook club, share snacks and share ideas. It is an understatement to say that I hoped to accomplish too much in too little time. My heart rate reflected my stress level as I motored around the room collecting names, sharing yearbook details, and keeping a careful eye on the clock. That day, I expected ten to twelve students. To my delighted surprise, around thirty students showed up to get involved in selling ads and creating the book to capture the 2016-17 school year in pictures. Among the students were quite a few seniors and juniors, a handful of sophomores, and very few freshmen. At the end of the meeting, a torrent of questions from all directions flooded me. During the barrage, one of the freshmen students shared with me that he didn’t have a ride home. I guess I was too caught up in collecting the meeting attendance, making extra photocopies, and figuring out why the projector wasn’t sharing the image I’d prepared to show to totally engage with this student. I dropped the ball, but this month’s Student of the Month did not. He could have turned his back and walked the other way, he could have pretended he didn’t hear the touch of fear in this student’s voice, he could have been caught up in attendance, photocopies and the projector, too, but he wasn’t. Instead, he said, “Where do you live buddy? I will give you a ride home. Well, as long as you don’t mind riding in a Jeep-- do you mind riding in a Jeep?” I stopped taking attendance, I stopped making photocopies and I stopped projecting--- and I took in that moment of kindness, of consideration, of compassion and I stayed in that moment and smiled and got a little choked up and, right then, I knew I would never forget that moment. And, I never will. I shared that story with my fellow teachers at our last faculty meeting.
This this past week, one of our favorite Ramblers found himself pretty sick and in the hospital. Of course, that favorite Rambler is Nate Jewell. Right away, Mr. MacArthur was in contact with Nate’s parents and then was in contact with a few of his basketball players. One of those players suggested they all sign a card for Nate. So, first thing on Monday, Mr. MacArthur asked for my help in designing a huge card from the basketball boys for Nate. He and I and Jordan, my library aide, worked on building it--- we constructed with foam poster board, markers and, of course, glitter paint-- which, by the way, takes forever to dry. We set it on the window sill with the fan pointed toward it to help with the drying process, and little by little, basketball boys trickled in. At some point during the day, though, the card went missing. I later found out that our Student of the Month had taken this card on a WHS tour. He used his tutorial to get signatures on the card from anyone and everyone who wanted to send well-wishes to Nate. This card that started out as a sentiment from the boys’ basketball team became a sentiment from everyone and anyone who loves Nate---and who doesn’t love Nate? That is the way with this student. His “the more the merrier” attitude and his caring heart made him the perfect delivery service that afternoon when he personally handed the card to Nate in the hospital. He gave up his run to Cumbies, his Polar Pop fix, and his relaxing period in the senior lounge to brighten Nate’s day. We should all be so lucky to have such a good friend….
And, you know what---? We are. You see, this leader at Winthrop High School has a kind spirit that knows no boundaries. If you are stranded on the side of the road and he drives by in his Jeep, he is stopping. If you forget your book at school, call him and he is screen shotting, if you didn’t pack your lunch, he is sharing his with you. And, when (not if) his dog Goose runs away, he is the brother who is probably chasing it. Whether you are a freshman, a sophomore, a junior or senior--- whether he knows your name or not, Spencer Steele is your friend. In our world today, it’s a struggle to always be a good friend. It’s a struggle to always do the right thing. It’s a struggle to be kind to others when your own climb seems pretty darn steep. But, Spencer is a good friend, he is doing the right thing and he is kind--- and he is also a pretty big deal because he is our October 2016 Student of the Month. Congratulations, to our dear friend, Spencer!