Winchester mayor serves as principal for the day

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, October 10, 2023

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Around 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, students gathered inside Shearer Elementary School on E. Broadway Street.

Yet, in the front office, one esteemed individual awaited to serve.

Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed joined Shearer Elementary School as part of the Principal for a Day program. She made morning announcements, read to classrooms, and did other activities.

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“It is so exciting to be Principal of the Day at Shearer Elementary School. As a retired teacher, it has special meaning to me. [It] makes me miss the kids a whole lot”, said Reed. “I was excited when the phone call came asking me to do this, and I want to spend time and help kids understand what Winchester is all about and how they can be productive citizens as they grow along with the rest of us.”

Beginning the day, Mayor Reed read the morning announcements, surrounded by Principal Diana Jackson and Assistant Principal Lindsey Campbell.

Announcements included mentioning what choices students would have for lunch during the day, leading the school in the Pledge of Allegiance, and addressing daily expectations for students – such as being safe, helpful, accountable, respectful, and kind.

For Campbell, the opportunity was extra special.

“In working together with bringing Bluegrass Community and Technical College to Winchester, she and I did lots of speaking engagements because I was a student there,” she said. “We did lots of things together…so it’s really neat that we’re in this capacity now, and we’re still able to work and do stuff together.”

Mayor Reed’s first stop was Amy Blair’s kindergarten classroom.

Yet en route, she encountered first-grade teacher Michele Brownlee, a former student who told her students that Reed had a significant influence on her.

Once inside the kindergarten classroom, Mayor Reed spent time reading two books to the children: “How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer and “I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem” by famed actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

While engaging the students with questions and answers and providing a deeper understanding of her role as the mayor, she also honed in on the deeper meaning of the first story.

“I’ve enjoyed reading to you this morning, and there’s a couple [of] things I want you to remember,” Reed said. “I want you to remember that you have an invisible bucket, and we want to keep that bucket full. We want to be kind. We want to be nice…When it gets empty, that means we’re not being very nice to people. We always want to keep our buckets full.”

After reading the books to fourth-grade students, Reed – speaking with students somewhat differently than in kindergarten to account for differences in age and maturity – re-emphasized the necessity to be polite and more.

“We forget sometimes how our choices affect others. If we make a bad choice, we can really hurt someone else,” Reed said. “If we make good choices and stay kind and think about each other and be helpful, that’s what we need to be. That’s the kind of citizens that we need in Winchester.”

Reed also stated that, throughout the day, she hoped students would wave to her in the hallway.

With years of teaching in her background, she acknowledged the familiarity.

“It just all came back…my heart just soared this morning. I feel so comfortable and so relaxed in this environment,” Reed said. “The grade levels are fun..that keeps you humble.”

Campbell acknowledged that students benefit as well from the experience.

“I think it makes them feel very special that someone important like the Mayor comes to school,” she said. “With our social studies curriculum, we talk about communities and how those work. It’s a great connection for our staff to make with our students and actually see it in person.”