I was curious to know how teachers and staff were responding to the Cashmere School District’s focus on meeting the needs of kids beyond normal school activities and Superintendent Glenn Johnson was kind enough to share an email he received from Vale Elementary teacher Ginny Davidson.

“It’s a typical request that demonstrates the staff commitment to ‘closing gaps’ for our kids,” Johnson told me, and added that “Ginny is an exemplary example of this heart for kids.”

‘Hi Glenn!

I wanted to tell you that yesterday I was talking to one of my students and she told me that she is homeless because the last place she lived wasn't safe for them to live.

I woke up this morning thinking about her and prayed about how I can make a difference in the lives of these kids. Soooo, I have a favor to ask...

I have been wanting to make a Kid's Closet for 3 years, but keep getting bogged down with where to put it. Thanks to Sean (McKenna, the principal) and Richard (Anderson, the custodian), I have been given space on the stage and am ready to have my 4th grade leaders help me with managing it.

What I need is two big, tall shelves. One for boys clothes and one for girls. I'd like to have two dowels connecting the shelves, where we could hang coats and stack shoe boxes with shoes and boots.

Is it possible that I could have Cashmere Cares buy the shelves and possibly bins to keep the clothes in?

I would really love to have a place where our kids can come for clean clothes and new shoes. It might also be nice to stock with blankets?

I'd love your thoughts. Thanks Glenn!”

This heart for children is something that I see in so many local teachers with whom I interact. What makes a great teacher is not technical expertise but a love for kids and a commitment to inspiring them to be their best and that often means dealing with kids in difficult circumstances.

It seems to me that when districts encourage a mindset of meeting the needs of students and empowering teachers and staff to look for opportunities to go the extra mile when a need emerges, that’s when magic happens and lives are changed. Teddy Roosevelt once said that “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” In this era of school reform and an emphasis on testing and measurement, what seems to be missed by politicians, the public and some administrators is that the heart of the job is finding a way to help kids develop a love of learning. That’s the mark of a great teacher.

I believe that finding creative ways to encourage and support teachers in making these kinds of heart connections with kids as a way to foster a love of lifetime learning is far more important than how kids score on a standardized test.

I tip my hat to Ginny Davidson and the rest of the teachers and staff in Cashmere for what they are doing to create those meaningful relationships.

Sign up for our email newsletters