Bob Siegel


June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

Team Claire by BOB SIEGEL Principal, Valley View Elementary School When does a school become more than a building, and transform into a loving/learning community? Pondering this is analogous to the question: When does a house become a home? This past year the students, staff and parents at Valley View Elementary School came together like I’ve never witnessed before as an educator! Sometimes it takes a “cause” that forces young and old alike to think beyond themselves, and REALLY invest in someone else’s pain. When a family member is in crisis, brothers and sisters, moms and dads are supposed to step up and support each other. Valley View Elementary School did that this year! I met Claire as she was to begin kindergarten at Valley View five years ago. Her start to school was delayed due to a bout with cancer in her leg. I have watched this incredible child fight this disease like a heavyweight fighter! Ironically, Claire was the most quiet and unassuming child you’d ever meet. During the 24-Hour Relay, Luanne Helsen, Claire Kowroski’s teacher, organized a “Team Claire” campaign, complete with t-shirts for anyone who wanted to participate. Walking around the track that Friday night with Claire’s dad and hundreds of kids, parents and staff—the Valley View Family—was truly  uplifting! Ironically, as I began writing this piece, news of Claire’s passing came our way. Incredibly so, the focus of this piece, however, does not change. I can tell you this: Claire taught us more in her nine years of life than I’ve ever learned from ANYONE in my 54 years on this Earth. Her courage was beyond inspirational— she was a witness to overcoming any pain and suffering that could be handed out, and taught us all how to live gracefully through hardship. One wonders why a young child would be taken from our midst. Though our mortal minds cannot grasp some of these profound questions, I do believe that everything happens for a reason. The entire Valley View Family has been blessed to have lived with Claire and mom Kathleen, dad Brad and little sister Izzy in our Valley View “home.” Our school will never be the same without Claire in our midst, and yet her life has left a […]

Education Blackboard — March 11, 2010

March 11, 2010 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT In three words by BOB SIEGEL, Principal Valley View Elementary Most of the good things that happen at Valley View Elementary School are not my ideas! That may seem like a startling admission for a principal to make, but it’s humbly true. We are blessed to have many talented,  bright and creative staff members and parents who are always coming up with new programs and projects that make our school family even better. I’ve learned to “get out of the way” of a powerful idea and lend support! I was approached by a Valley View parent, Michelle Corey, to consider doing a Valley View project based upon the “In Three Words” piece done frequently on the Good Morning America television show. Michelle sent me a video clip from one of the shows as a starting point. Various individuals or groups of people show three words that capture the essence of their lives in many creative ways. For example, a new mother holding her baby holds a sign: “New Baby Born!” Michelle presented the idea to “Team Valley View” at a faculty meeting, and the project was completely embraced by our entire staff. For the past two weeks, Michelle has been filming every possible group at Valley View doing their “In Three Words” piece. The end product will be a “gift” to our departing fifth-graders and their parents, and the sale of the “In Three Words” CD to Valley View families will be a fundraiser as well. It’s been fun watching all of the various groups at Valley View buy into the concept and develop their three words. Everyone from the classroom teachers, to our cook, to the PTO Board, to our bus drivers were involved and did an “In Three Words” taping. In the process of preparing for their piece of the video, I have watched students spend time with their teachers discussing what three words they want to use to represent and reflect their classroom family—their “motto,” so to speak. The discussion about which three words to use has been powerful! Some examples of the “In Three Words:” •            bus drivers:  “Drive Precious Cargo!” •            our secretaries Jo Beier and Wendy Carlson: “Different Every Day!” •            a fifth-grade classroom:  “Return with Honor!” […]

Go green!

July 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

by BOB SIEGEL Principal, Valley View Elementary Being a Michigan State University (MSU) alumni and HUGE fan of the Spartans, when I first heard the phrase, “GO GREEN!” I instinctively shouted out loud, “GO WHITE!” (Green and White are MSU’s school colors—in case you missed the NCAA basketball tournament.) This past fall, Valley View Elementary School, along with other schools in Rockford, focused on educating our students about  the importance of protecting our environment on our “one and only” planet Earth! At Valley View, teachers Nancy Berg (fourth grade) and Brad Davison (fifth grade) invited fourth- and fifth-graders to be leaders of this effort by joining our school’s newly created “Green Team”—a hands-on experience at helping safeguard Mother Earth. What started out as a simple group of students looking to engage in fun activities under Nancy and Brad’s leadership, became a group very serious about their efforts and highly organized. The experience culminated in the reception of the “Green Award,” given by the Kent County Intermediate School District. Valley View’s upper-elementary students truly embraced the concepts of conservation and recycling to the point where they gave up recesses to organize their tasks. A “tree-hugger” I am not, but one can no longer overlook the need to be conscious of the environment around us! As a leader of future leaders, it’s incumbent upon us as educators—and parents—to teach our children the importance of considering how and what we USE, from material goods to electronic devices. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as a parent and educator, it’s that whatever we place a high priority and focus on is what our children will grow up to place importance on when they are adults. The way that I view this topic is analogous to how we should treat our bodies. We get ONE shot at taking care of our earthly “temples,” as the Greeks used to say. If we mistreat our human bodies by eating poorly, failing to exercise, and abuse chemicals, the result will probably not be a long and prosperous life. Unfortunately, once our body begins to malfunction, we do NOT get to trade it in for a new one! The same goes for “Mother Earth!” I’m not sure we’ll ever truly know the extent […]