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Nixa’s new teachers get pregame talk

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Nixa Public Schools welcomed 75 new teachers into the school district with a luncheon and surprise party.

The Nixa Chamber of Commerce held its annual welcome event for educators who are new to Nixa on Aug. 10 at Nixa Junior High School. The teachers received welcoming statements from community and business leaders and from their employers, and they also received some words of congratulation and encouragement from an established leader in their peer group.

Jennifer Perryman, a health teacher at Nixa High School and the head coach of the Nixa girls basketball team, gave a pep talk.

Perryman has worked at Nixa Public Schools for 18 years. She is about to start her 15th year as a high school teacher and coach. For the past 14 years, Perryman has worked to lift the culture of girls basketball in Nixa. She shared that the reason she got into teaching and coaching was that she aims to be a positive influence in the lives of young women.

“I am a culture coach. I don’t believe culture is one thing, I believe culture is everything. I believe it’s who you are, what you stand for, I believe that’s how you measure success, and I believe that’s one thing that keeps you going in this business,” Perryman said.

Perryman explained how Nixa’s girls basketball team builds bonds and creates a winning culture in its offseason by going on retreats, reading books on leadership together and sitting for classes or workshops on leadership with other coaches and teachers. The lessons they learn show up in the way the Eagles play basketball, and in how they carry themselves when they go to other schools for games.

“I have parents from other programs reach out and say, ‘Hey, we see something different about your program. We see something different about how you relate to your kids and how your kids play the game,’” Perryman said.

A basketball team, or any group within a school, should be a small representation of the larger happenings within a school district, Perryman said. For example, a group of freshman basketball players served as the cleanup crew for the luncheon at the junior high.

“We will be as successful as they are when they come in right away, not wait for those upperclassmen to teach them the ways, but they know the ways already,” Perryman said of the freshmen. “They’re going to take responsibility, because it is a responsibility and it is a privilege to continue that and to build on that. They’re going to revitalize and motivate some of those upperclassmen.”

At a time when public education is under scrutiny and questioning, Perryman challenged Nixa’s new teachers to “turn those question marks into exclamation marks.”

“They know that they are not only living in the right community, but that their kids are in the right school,” Perryman said.

Nixa Public Schools Director of Human Resources Mark McGehee shared that while 20 of Nixa’s new teachers are brand new to their profession, 55 of the incoming teachers bring a combined 398 years of classroom experience into the school district.

McGehee reflected back to his own memory of being a new teacher in Nixa.

“What I didn’t realize is the level of commitment, and the level of dedication and the level of talent that I was joining was amazing and incredible. You quickly find out that it raises the bar for you,” McGehee said. “I’m proud to say 21 years later that bar has never lowered, it has only gotten higher each and every year.”

Each of the 75 new teachers at Nixa Public Schools received a bag full of useful items and information on local businesses from the Nixa Chamber of Commerce. Each teacher also received a gift basket drawn at random as donated by chamber members.

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