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Front Page » August 30, 2005 » Local News » Emery District has "magical" opening institute
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Emery District has "magical" opening institute

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Guest Writer

Brad Barton speaks to the teachers at the Emery County School District opening institute.

"Magic" was the theme of the Emery School District opening institute held at Emery High School on Aug. 22. Keynote speaker and master magician Brad Barton challenged the district's employees to find the magic within themselves as well as within each student as they enter the 2005-06 school year.

Combining his skills as a magician with personal anecdotes and the experiences of his life, Barton entertained as well as motivated administrators, teachers and classified employees. "The thesis today," Barton said, "is that you can bring out the best in those you serve only when you bring your best self to your role."

Demonstrating what he described as "cheap and cheesy" magic, Barton said that "sometimes the best answers are the most simple answers� getting back to simple things� those things we already know." He said that magic is in the hearts and minds of the audience and that we all have magic in us.

"Another kind of magic is the miracle," he said, pointing out that educators have the kind of magical powers to perform miracles with kids by helping kids make choices that lead to options, accomplishments and moments of happiness and joy.

Referring to former Four Corners Mental Health youth counselor, Emery Jones, Barton said those who work with youth can make a positive difference, even in a world of deception. He called Jones his role model and mentor.

While performing an act of deception with a newspaper, which he appeared to tear into tiny pieces and then magically reassemble, Barton said that such an act is an illusion. "It can't hurt you," he said. "There are some deceptions that can hurt you though�hurt kids and adults." To avoid such deceptions in life, Barton suggested avoiding misdirection by staying focused on the important things and by being cautious of what we put into our hearts and minds.

As the school year gets underway, Barton said that it is very important for educators to have the proper mental frame of mind. "It's easy to have a colleague say something and because of our mental state we take it the wrong way," he said. By making these mental adjustments, "We can have a unified team� not bad-mouthing each other� and present a united front to the students."

Barton grew up on a cattle ranch in Salmon, Idaho, and was the youngest of nine children. He said he had to overcome a number of personal obstacles in his young life, including weighing only 82 pounds as he entered high school, being told by others that he was worthless and would never amount to anything, and having learning disabilities. It was, he said, a high school wrestling coach who encouraged him and gave him confidence to succeed. That confidence led him to become an honors graduate from Weber State, an NCAA All-American, and an Olympic Trials qualifier.

Emery School Board Member Rue Ware welcomes employees to the opening institute.

In 1992, Mr. Barton accepted a position as a Prevention Specialist with Weber County Human Services in Ogden. He continues to teach that his own success was not a trick of fate or luck, but a deliberate course of continual self-reflection, determination and service.

In conclusion, Barton encouraged educators to be more holistic in their approach to teaching kids. "Teach the heart as well as the mind," he said. "A lot of kids have been dumped on, but they can do way more than they often think they can. The most important things many kids can learn are the non-core pieces.

"If we believe in our kids, magic can happen," he said.

Board Member Rue Ware welcomed the Emery District employees to the 2005-06 school year. He said that today's educators need to know what to do next and to have the right answers and to focus on results and that today's challenge lies in testing.

However, he also encouraged educators to know there are challenges in education beyond testing. "Life can be tough on kids," he said. "Teachers have a chance to help with those things." He added that there are two kinds of people that we tend to remember the most: those people who kicked us when we were down and those who helped us get up.

District Supervisor of Elementary Education Jed Jensen said that not only does the district office staff welcome employees to the new school year, but also honors the employees for their commitment, dedication, integrity and love toward the children they work with. He said that such dedication is recognized both locally and throughout the state.

JJ Grant, district supervisor of Secondary Education, introduced nine new teachers to the district, five of whom attended Emery County schools. He also reviewed other personnel changes in the district.

In addition to the keynote program, teachers participated in breakout sessions with Barton. Elementary teachers also met in grade-level meetings while secondary teachers met in subject-area meetings.

Barton has been scheduled to present student body assemblies at San Rafael and Canyon View Junior High schools and Emery High School.

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