A slice of local life: A principal’s principles pave way for pupils

Principal Kelly Beard takes a hands-on, heart-on approach to guiding his May Street Elementary students.

Photo by Julie Raefield-Gobbo.
Principal Kelly Beard takes a hands-on, heart-on approach to guiding his May Street Elementary students.

Whistle? Check. Mighty Miles certificates and Dragon Dineros? Check. Clothespin hall passes? Check. Bullhorn, two-way radio and blood-borne pathogens safety kit?


Loaded up with a flourish of specialized equipment and moving with the speed of a gazelle, May Street Elementary Principal Kelly Beard heads briskly toward the cafeteria and playground to share some face time with his students.

For anyone trying to keep up with this energetic and focused principal, a few other things become apparent when assessing the equipment he uses daily.

Leadership? Check. Compassion? Check. Hearty smile, genuine concern and respect for the full humanity of each student no matter how small? Check.

“A good day is when I can walk away feeling I have had a clear and effective impact on a child,” said Beard.

Putting the welfare and improvement of each child in his care at the top of his list is Beard’s driving mission. Recognizing the strengths of his students, staff and families is the philosophical pathway he takes to achieve his goals.

“The staff here is phenomenal and such a pleasure to work with,” said Beard. “The parents are super supportive. This is what makes May Street a neighborhood and a community.”

Now in his second year at May Street, with 509 students and about 52 staff persons, Beard has experienced the full spectrum of school sizes in the county. He was previously the principal at Pine Grove Elementary with just 140 students.

Regardless of his school population, Beard has always kept focused on being an actively engaged and conscientious leader. Much like a mayor of a small town, Beard’s day involves all the mundane aspects of human management — setting rules, enforcing rules, disciplining rule-breakers and solving problems.

Even more like a mayor however, Beard maintains and communicates the vision that binds this little city together.

That vision? Well-educated and socially responsible individuals, and a kinder community.

When discipline is in order on the playground, Beard can be seen tenderly taking the errant student aside out of earshot of others, kneeling down so he is face to face and inspiring the offender into better behavior. Likewise, good behaviors and achievements are quickly recognized and rewarded publically.

Beard leads by example toward the higher goals of kindness, respect, sensitivity, responsibility and forgiveness. He also isn’t afraid to show his own youthful spirit.

As time slips away on the playground, Beard brings his bullhorn up. Instead of barking the order to line up that every one of us can recall with a cringe, Beard playfully sings the directions to each successive group of recess-completers.

“Here we go first-graders, here we go. Line up first graders, line up,” sings Beard in an inviting baritone with a giant smile.

The order, which keeps this city running well, is delivered with joy, making the citizens happy and more likely to comply. Beard must understand the most fundamental rule of all — Education always begins by witnessing great role models.

And what is one of the ultimate secrets to his success?

Beard sees his leadership as service.

“I would say I am in the employ of everyone here. I work for the kids first and foremost; then the parents and the staff — I’m here to support them.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge


mudrock says...

Kelly is great and he creates a great staff. Without mentioning names, some other principals could follow his lead. Did someone say Hood River High??? Could be.

Posted 19 March 2013, 7:12 a.m. Suggest removal

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