Late last spring, a student at Washington Elementary wrote a thank you letter to Sedalia School District 200 Superintendent Brad Pollitt.
The letter read: “Mr. Pollitt, Thank you for everything you do. I’ve heard that you are the boss of all the principals and teachers. You also make all the decisions for schools. You also own all of the schools.
“Thank you for giving us lunch and breakfast. Thank you for all the supplies we need and thank you for all the field trips you let us go to. — Eric.”
While not entirely accurate, as superintendent, Pollitt, under the direction of the Board of Education, oversees a staff of 650 who are ultimately responsible for the education of more than 5,000 students.
In honor of Father’s Day weekend, the Democrat spoke to Pollitt, seeking his input and advice on the responsibility of helping to educate the children who will soon grow and become the adults of the future.
“I truly believe that for a family every day they send us their most valued resource, their child,” Pollitt said. “They send us the best they have every day.
“I have always said that our job is to protect and educate them and take care of their children,” he continued. “It’s the most important thing we do as educators.”
Pollitt commented that parenting is a difficult task but once the decision is made to have a child then it becomes the responsibility of the couple to raise the child as well.
“Parenting is hard but it is the most important job you will ever have,” Pollitt said. “A child needs to know that they are cared for and that they can depend on you as their parent.
“There is a fine line that a parent has to be aware of because all children have to learn from their mistakes and from the lessons of life,” he added. “All choices in life, no matter what the age of the individual, have consequences, and as an adult you pray that those choices aren’t life-altering for the child.”
Pollitt explained there are two choices; the ones a person learns from and those that do alter lives.
He added it is important to hold children accountable for their actions and not enable them.
“When I was in high school, my varsity football coach was a man named Mike Kordameyer, and man did he push me like no other coach had ever pushed me,” Pollitt recalled fondly. “He cared that I was the best he wanted me to be because he wanted me to reach my full potential.
“He didn’t let me take the easy way and he led me to believe that I could always strive to do better than what I had before,” he added. “He cared and he is one of the individuals I wanted to be like when I decided to become a teacher.”
There are three other educators, all of whom Pollitt met in his first years as a teacher and coach, who helped formulate some of the educational philosophies Pollitt carries with him now more than 32 years later.
“The first superintendent who ever hired me was Jerry VanGiles,” Pollitt said. “He told me that if you treat people right then people will respect you and take care of you.
“He was one of the men who emphasized the importance of holding other accountable though,” he added. “As educators, do we make mistakes, absolutely; education today is a complex organization but we are held accountable and will work our hardest to prevent the situation from happening in the future.”
From Leon Shores, the first elementary principal Pollitt worked for, Pollitt leaned to never say never because as Shores said, “someday you’ll eat those words.”
Finally, from Jerry Malick, who served as the high school principal at North Shelby, Pollitt learned the role of compassion in a school setting.
“Mr. Malick was an incredible administrator,” Pollitt said. “I could see him disciple a child one hour, and the next hour he would walk down the hall with his arm around the student talking to him.
“I heard a long time ago that, ‘Kids don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,’” he added. “Kids truly do know when it’s an act and you really can’t fool a kid because they can see through people who are putting on an act.”
One of the most important things both teachers and parents should strive to do is to be a role model for children and to be involved in both their child’s education and lives.
Pollitt and his wife Danette Pollitt have two daughters, Whitney and Brianna, and a son, Kevin.
“Statistics will show that students who are involved at school are the ones who are more successful both in school and later in life,” Pollitt said. “They need to be in school and have those direct teaching opportunities both from their teachers at school and their parents.
“My hope for my own children and for all the children who we are teaching is that when they think of me, they say I was someone who worked hard and tried to do the right thing,” Pollitt added. “I think that’s something every parent hopes for.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484