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Episode 5: Lessons From a Utah Jazz Legend

Utah Jazz legend Thurl Bailey talks about growing up in a home where he was never allowed to be average. He even sings for the Superintendent.

Then we hear from a second grade student, a middle school student and a high school senior. They all have questions for the Superintendent.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Today we take our podcast to new heights, literally, by talking about the importance of education and learning with six foot 11 inch Utah Jazz legend Thurl Bailey. Then we'll head back to the studio to visit with a second grader named Lincoln, a middle school student named Cade, and a high school senior name to Emily. We have a lot to learn from them, so I hope you'll stick around. But first here's Thurl Bailey who gave us a little taste of his musical talents. [inaudible]

Superintendent Godfrey:
Here with Thurl Bailey, who just gave an inspiring speech to our Administrative Leadership Conference between us. We have 12 years in the NBA and it's been a great experience to be able to talk with Mr. Bailey here today. Thanks again for being with us. You talked about how people in your life had a big influence in your success. I was really impressed with that. Your message wasn't about you. It was about the influence of important people at key moments in your life. Can you tell us about the role that your parents have played in your success?

Thurl:
Well, my parents obviously played the major role in me being the type of person I am today. And as a parent now, I understand the job of a parent is to be that influencer and teacher at home and disciplinary. And then, growing up in DC, a lot of kids didn't have that. They didn't have a mom and a dad that were there and parented jointly. So I was very fortunate. They really laid the foundation for us as kids. Education was number one. I was threatened that I couldn't come home with C's or below by my parents. And, in your mind, you wonder why, because a lot of people will say, well, a C is a passing grade and my mom made it clear that C was average and she didn't raise average kids.

And so our goal was, our job was to go in and do above average work, do the work and, and ask the right questions to the right people. And so it was just a great foundation, especially in an environment I grew up in. And I just believe that everybody we come across are influencers and educators in one way or another on the positive side and on the other side of it. So in the end, it really is about having information. It's about getting that education. And it's about understanding that people are there for you and to help you if you want it. We know a lot of people who will sit there and not ask a question and fail because they don't take it the next step further and ask the question. So my parents really gave us a really good beginning of how to communicate and then just how to progress in your life.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I love the message from your mom about expectations, that she expected you to be working hard and to achieve. And she would accept nothing less and expectations make a big difference, right?

Thurl:
That's what was implanted early. And that's really a good point you're making because if it's implanted early on, the parents are reinforcing that, right? The kids have a certain expectation. It's not just about their achievement. They want to do it for other people. They want to show their parents that they're working very hard, but until that's consistently planted in you in the beginning, a lot of kids don't have that for one reason or another. Maybe some of the reasons aren't their fault, but that's when you have other people like these educators and the administrators that come into their lives and tell them, I see that potential in you. I know you can do it. And I'm here with you. If you want to commit.

Superintendent Godfrey:
You know, it's really hard to hold the microphone up that high. It kind of wears on my arm a little bit. Any last words of encouragement for our students that, you know, times are tough. There's a lot of anxiety out there. Kids are working hard. Social, emotional wellness is something we really focus on. Any words of encouragement for kids out there that may be struggling or questioning their own worth.

Thurls:
Yeah. I say, you've got so much potential. One of the things that I try to encourage kids to do is to find what they're passionate about. Find something that they're passionate about and don't ever, ever think that they can't achieve it or should go through it alone. There are people that care, there are people that want to help and their development and in their success. I know you don't know anyone who's ever been successful on their own. And so they have all the tools and the help that they need, but sometimes it takes a little courage, right? To take that step and say, listen, I need help. This is what I want. I'm passionate about it. Can you help me get to the next level? Or can you help me find someone who can help me with this? And I think that's one of the things that a lot of technology has taken out of a kid's somewhat, is the ability to communicate and do that without having to be through a phone.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Thank you so much great messages. And I've watched you for a long time as a player and a commentator. And I can't tell you what a thrill, it's been very inspiring day to spend time with you.

Thurl:
Thank you very much. Take care of the best you.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're back in studio. Thanks again to Thurl Bailey for sharing his thoughts on education. Now, we have superstars of our own who've been kind enough to join us.

Students:
Gabe I'm from Oquirrh Hills and I'm going to ninth grade. I'm Emily, and I'm going to be a senior this year.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Tell me about what you're looking forward to and what your plans are and hopes are for the coming year.

Gabe:
I'm looking forward to meeting a lot of new people, a lot of the new teachers that are transferring into the school, and I'm hoping for it to be a great year and have some pretty good teachers.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah, that's great. I'm glad that you're looking forward to meeting new people. That's a big part of being in school. It's kind of a target rich environment for making your friends and for being able to connect and have some fun. How about you, Emily? What are you looking forward to this year? Senior year?

Emily:
Yeah, the big one. I'm really excited for the classes that I'm taking. I'm through with all my required classes. So I'm doing business law and sports marketing, just getting into some more specific classes that are gonna be really interesting to me.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So do you know what you want to do?

Emily:
I know I'm interested in marketing, but hopefully the classes will give me a little bit of direction because right now, I don't know.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's a great part of high school. You get to try some things that maybe you won't be able to do down the line that gives you a little bit of a chance to experiment and see what you like.

Emily:
Yeah. I'm really excited for it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's great. Lincoln, what are you thinking about for this coming school year? What are you hoping for this year? What are you excited about going back to school, going to second grade?

Lincoln:
So you're excited about moving on to second grade by the end of first grade where you kind of looking forward to second grade already.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What do you like most about school? You like what? You like the end of school? Well, I think we all liked the end of our day and when we feel the accomplishment of getting to the end of the year. We'll come back again to you, Lincoln. Let's talk a little bit about, there's actually a book out there that you probably haven't read because it really wouldn't apply to you. But I think you may have some insights the book has to offer. And the book is "What I Wish My Teacher Knew". So I'm wanting to ask you that same question, not any specific teacher of yours, but we've all been through school. All adults have been through school at one time or another. And so we all sometimes get the impression that we know what it's like and that we can remember what it's like and that we haven't figured out. So can you tell me anything that you wish adults knew that they don't seem to know about what it's like to be in your shoes?

Emily:
I feel like a lot of classes that I have just so many assignments and so many worksheets, and you're moving through these units really quickly. And there isn't enough time. I don't know. I feel like there's too much emphasis on turning in your homework and getting a good grade on a test rather than actually understanding what you're doing. And so I wish that classes could move a little slower and I know there's curriculum that you have to cover, but sometimes I think it could be a day or two extra, like to fully learn things.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So sometimes it feels like maybe there's too much happening in too short a time.

Emily:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. How about you, Gabe?

Gabe:
I wish the teachers knew they need to get more involved with students because kids learn better when they're having fun. I remember things when I was having fun back in elementary and I remember those things more than I did when I was just sitting behind a desk, looking at a paper.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So when teachers are engaging, when they make things fun. And they involve their students. Okay. So you definitely couldn't tell a class that's focused on students and that brings that out. Okay, great. Lincoln, what are some of the things that you really like that your teachers have done in your class? What are some things you really liked about your first grade teacher?

Lincoln:
She started with an ELA class. So you like your friends in the class and her name started with L like your name.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh, Ms. Lee Lincoln. That's awesome. Can you remember any of your favorite books?

Lincoln:
The book with no pictures.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Alright. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back. Stay with us.

Sandra Reisgraf:
If you're always looking for opportunities to learn something new, why not join us for the next Jordan Parent University? Jordan Parent University is an opportunity for parents to better understand issues that impact their own students and education. It's an evening class designed to help parents with things like planning for the road beyond high school, better understanding  of students' social and emotional health and wellness. And knowing who to call when there are issues involving a school or a student, Jordan Parent University is free and open to the public. For a list of upcoming classes, times and locations go to jpu.jordandistrict.org. See you there.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Welcome back. We're here in studio with Gabe, Emily, and Lincoln, talking about the coming school year and asking what their goals are for the school year to come. So I'm just going to ask each of them to talk about one goal that they have for the school year. Okay. So Gabe, why don't you tell us.

Gabe:
One goal I would like to see the school year is to have classes that are more in depth into certain subjects, such as salesmanship and marketing.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. So you want to get a little deeper into some of the subjects?

Gabe:
Exactly.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Salesmanship and marketing. Is that something that you're interested in? Maybe down the line?

Gabe:
Yes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Alright. Very good. What do you want to sell? Whatever's thrown your way?

Gabe:
Exactly. Whatever works.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. Awesome. And Emily, tell me, what's your goal for this year?

Emily:
My goal for this year is to make more friends and be more outgoing than I have been the past two years.

Superintendent Godfrey:
It's a little bit hard sometimes. Isn't it?

Emily:
Yeah. That's about it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And talk to any old person like me who graduated in the 19 hundreds and they will tell you that they wish they could go back and be more outgoing and be more friendly and make more connections.

Emily:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's great. Great goals. What do you like to learn about Lincoln? If you have a favorite animal, what's your favorite animal?

LIncoln:
A horse.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What do you like about horses?

Lincoln:
Oh, sorry. A horse just walked by.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What do you like about horses? Do you ride horses?

Lincoln:
They're cute. Faces.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Do you know what I say when I see a horse that seems sad? Say, why the long face you haven't had a horse before? Would you like to have a horse someday? Your mom doesn't want a horse?

Well, my mom didn't even want a dog. So Lincoln, do you have a question for me?

Lincoln:
Do you have a dog?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Thank you for asking. I have a dog named Molly. Molly is a white dog. And if I say her name in particular way, she knows, I just might give her a walk and she knows how to sit right on the carpet in just the right spot and look at me and pull your ears up. I'm ready to hear my name called for you to take me for a while. So she understands that she doesn't understand. I've had a long day and I may not want to walk around the block a few times, but I always feel better after I do walk her.

Do you have chickens?

Likes chicken is White Dandelion, Dandelion, the White Chick. When he grows up, he'll eat the most eggs for breakfast. When he grows up, he'll lay the most eggs. Tell you all of them about the eggs, because the ones that lay cool eggs. So some of them lay cooler eggs than others.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's so cool. You know, Lincoln, I might need you to name my next dog because I named my dog, Molly. And that's not halfway as exciting. Given your chickens. I'm glad you liked the name. I feel better about that. Now, Emily, you have two dogs.

Emily:
I do have two dogs. They are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and yeah, I know. And they act the part. They are, have to be waited on hand and foot constantly. Yeah, Barclay and Freckles. They're brothers. They're Barclay and Freckles. Barclay as in Big Bird's dog andFreckles because he has freckles on his mouth and I love them. They're the best.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's fine. How big are they?

Emily:
They're pretty little. They probably each weigh 15 pounds and they're full size. Good size dog to have in the house. Just about Molly. What kind of dog is Molly?

Superintendent Godfrey:
A West Highland Terrier.

Emily:
Don't think I know what that is.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. Gabe, any pets?

Gabe:
I have a cat.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What's your cat's name? Fiona. Fiona. Very nice. That sounds like a cat name.

Gabe:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Interesting. Yeah. A lot of personality?

Gabe:
That's not how I'd put it, but personality. Yeah, pretty much. Fiona just lays around the house or why she lays around and hunts and that's pretty much it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh, she lays around except when she's hunting.

Gabe:
Yeah. So she was an alley cat and she came to her back door and so we pretty much just adopted her from there, but ever since we bought her, we've never had a rat problem.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I can imagine. Sounds like Fiona gives the impression of not being ready to pounce, but then comes out of nowhere.

Gabe:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. She's brought some interesting stuff. She wants brought us a snake to our back door.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh yeah, absolutely.

Gabe:
Yeah. She sat there at the door and just started meowing until we came out to look at it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Wow. And so how does one show appreciation? Do you scratch her and say good kitty?

Gabe:
Oh, I'm terrified to. Better to kill a snake. Who knows when she can?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh yeah. I'm with ya. Okay. Do you have another question again?

Gabe:
How do you decide the lunch schedules? Because at Oquirrh, we are getting an insane amount of new kids and how are we going to decide the lunch schedules?  How does that work?

Superintendent Godfrey:
The school works to set up the lunch schedule and sometimes we have to, every once in a while, we have to have three so that you are split in between class with lunch and you can actually get two tardies in the same class if you're tardy, before lunch. And after that, what we really try to do is boil it down to two lunches. And we have a requirement for the number of hours and days that we held at school. So we try to balance that out with the number of hours that we need to provide instruction and getting everyone through the election. So your school be working on figuring that out.

Gabe:
Awesome.

Emily:
So this is a little bit of a piggyback, I guess, off games question. Just in general, do you ever create a policy for an individual school or is it usually just directing like blanket policies over the whole district?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Our policy manual started back in 1969 and it gets thicker every time something happens that is unique or that we're trying to help protect people. Sometimes something happens at an individual school and we make a policy and every policy applies to every school, every school. We try to provide as much flexibility as we can because just like Gabe pointed out, different schools have different needs. So we try to do things in a way so there are policies that cover issues that relate to every school, but enough flexibility so that schools can do what they need to with their lunch schedule or with their bell schedule and meet the needs of their students.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Lincoln, do you have another question for me?

Lincoln:
Saturdays? What do I like to do on Saturdays?

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's a great question. I like to avoid email if I can, but I really like to go to concerts and listen to music. I love live music, so I like to go to concerts and I like to go out to breakfast with my family. I have two sons and I like to go out to breakfast with my wife and two sons. Molly has to stay at home though. She doesn't get to come with us for that, but that's what I like to do on Saturdays.

Lincoln:
Cause a lot of restaurants don't like dogs to come in? Some of them let dogs come in. Does she likes to stay home?

Superintendent Godfrey:
It's okay. She lays down in the sun. How about you? What do you like to do on Saturday?

Lincoln:
Stay home, man. She knows my mom and dad. That's a good way to spend a Saturday for sure.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Gabe, Emily Lincoln. It's been a pleasure. Have a great school year. And if I can help you with anything along the way, let me know.

Students:
Thank you so much. Thank you.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Thanks everyone out there and join us next time for the Supercast. And remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today.

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