Banning Unified School District welcomed back 600 teachers and support staff on Monday with donuts, cheerleaders and a marching band, reminiscent of a high school pep rally.
After last school year’s abysmal start that began with a three-day teacher strike, the administration wanted to start the 2019-2020 school year off in a positive direction.
Teachers from across the district were welcomed back from summer break with a donut as they made their way into the gymnasium of Banning High School for a mix of district updates and raffled prizes.
“We are starting the year off strong,” says Banning School Board Trustee Kerri Mariner. “We have so much support to start the year strong.”
The morning started with a short message of encouragement and inspiration from Banning School District Superintendent Robert Guillen that would rival any professional motivational speaker.
“Are you the best person you can be? Are you the best teacher you can be? Are you the best custodian you can be?” Guillen asked, hyping up the crowd.
“The only person that can answer that is you,” he replied to a round of applause and cheers.
The group agrees with the superintendent that the students deserve the best from their teachers and school staff.
The motivation of the crowd was kept amplified throughout the morning by raffles for prizes and gift cards.
The team of people who ran the prize table also threw T-shirts into the bleachers, similar to a professional sporting event.
Teachers turned into teenagers chasing an errant foul ball, as they scrambled for a shirt.
All of the raffle prizes were donated by outside vendors for the event.
The agenda for the morning included several presentations and trainings to bring teachers and staff up-to-date on new information and policies.
One demonstration had the crowd on the edge of their seats the entire time.
But it wasn’t simply Rob Hoadley’s demonstration of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) on a dummy that kept them transfixed.
Hoadley, a salesman of Deerfield, Wisc.-based Cardiac Science and a dynamic public speaker, told his personal story of how his heart once stopped from sudden cardiac arrest. Despite a coworker’s CPR efforts, he was dead for several minutes until the Fire Department showed up and used an AED to restart his heart.
His demonstration concluded with a demonstration of how to use an AED.
The district has recently purchased 27 AED machines that have been distributed and installed across all district campuses and offices.
Morale amongst the district employees following the morning activities was high as they begin their march through the school year.
After a quick lunch provided by the district, teachers headed off to their respective schools and classrooms with a sense of excitement and unity.
“It is a different vibe compared to last year,” says Mickey Valdivia, a teacher at Banning High School. “A strong sense of unity.”
He adds, “We have to do this for the community. And, most importantly, for the students.”
Teachers welcomed back students for the first day of school on Wednesday.