News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 14, 2012

VIDEO: Schools dancin’ with new year excitement

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Donning a white suit with black shirt and tie, Vigo County Schools Superintendent Dan Tanoos lined danced on the gymnasium floor Monday at Terre Haute South Vigo High School to help energize teachers during a back to school rally.

Tanoos stepped in after Doug Dillion, director of career and technical education, and John Newport, curriculum coordinator, briefly performed some “Blues Brother-like” steps while a three-student band, “The Lemon Brothers,” performed.

The boys, all under age 12, stopped the music, prodding Tanoos to “show ’em how it is done.”

Tanoos started the moves to a line dance, as about 50 deans, other school administrators and interns stepped out of the bleachers, joining the dance as the band played a Queen song, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

The dance was an ending to an hour-long rally aimed at thanking teachers and encouraging them to work for the betterment of students in the 2012-2013 academic year. First-year teachers and educators with more than 30 years experience were highlighted in the packed gym as the future and the backbone of the public school system.

Marilyn Farver, an eighth-grade English and literature teacher at West Vigo Middle School, is starting her 37th year in teaching.

“I get exciting every year, like it’s my first year. I feel like a first-year teacher. I really enjoy it. This rally really starts the year off well. It peps you up, and everyone needs that now and then,” Farver said.

The only thing that “would make it more perfect,” she said, was if her son, Todd Farver, a recent graduate as a social studies teacher, had a job. “That is my dream, to be sitting here some day with my son before I retire,” she said.

Tanoos said 16,000 students will start the school year today, and 54 percent of those students are on free or reduced-cost lunches. Tanoos said a “backpack program” started at Terre Haute North Vigo High School, where students on Fridays pick up a backpack full of food, will be expanded to all schools this year.

“It doesn’t matter if you are an inner-city or an affluent school, all schools have children in poverty,” Tanoos said, adding that fundraisers will raise money for a shoe bus and the backpack program.

The HERO [Helping Everyone Respect Others] program is meant to stop bullying of students. Tanoos said after discussion workshops that included students, “every group came back with one concern, that bullying was happening from adults in our schools.”

“I know that is a surprise and shock to you, but I want to make sure, and be very clear, that is something that will not be tolerated in the Vigo County School Corporation,” Tanoos said. “I ask you if you see that happening in any way, shape or form, you report that right away so we can get that stopped.”

After the teacher rally, Tanoos said all school employees, including maintenance and cafeteria workers, should refrain from making negative statements or remarks to or about students. “It could be something about weight, it could be something about sexual preference or race or ethnicity. Statements or treating one group different from another group will not be tolerated,” Tanoos said.

Tanoos also reported that Wellness for Life, a wellness center started in September, 2010 for school employees, has had 12,300 clinic visits, saving employees out-of-pocket expenses totaling $476,000 since the clinic opened.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.