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Community welcomes teachers to Union County schools with breakfast

Posted on August 9, 2019

Caleb Slinkard / News-Times

Former El Dorado School District Superintendent Bob Watson encourages new area educators during

the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce's New Teacher Breakfast, held at the College Avenue Church of Christ.

More than 75 area teachers school administrators and community members attended the breakfast.

By Caleb Slinkard
Managing Editor

If you’ve ever met former El Dorado School District Superintendent Bob Watson, you’ll remember at least one thing about him: he’s pretty tall.

Six-foot-ten, by his count.

He could be an imposing figure, if he wanted to be. But he’d rather encourage and advise. Thursday morning at the College Avenue Church of Christ, he did just that to dozens of new area educators during the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce’s New Teacher Breakfast.

“You learn something in 45 years; that’s what my wife prays about daily, that I learn something,” he joked. “Never have I ever regretted a minute of it. If you really want to get the respect of students, you need to be fair… firm and friendly. I’m sure you’ve heard all of this, and you’re going to have lots of guidance and help.”

Watson noted that, in light of changing cultural norms and evolving demands on teachers, keeping a secular application of James 1:19-20 in mind is a good idea as well.

“With social media the way it is, I think you have to go beyond being firm, fair and friendly in order to be effective today,” he said. “Basically what James says is to quickly listen, to speak slow and be slow to anger. Very simple. That was written in the first century.”

To strike his point home, Watson asked the group what the three things he wanted them to remember were. He got a smattering of different responses. He rephrased, and got the answers he was looking for.

“We don’t listen very well today,” Watson said. “Our problem is, when people are talking to us, we’re already formulating in our mind what we want to say, and we miss much of what they are saying. We don’t hear, we don’t listen up like we should… It affects our ability to communicate, it affects our ability to invest in one another. It affects our ability to support one another.”

Watson pointed out that speaking slowly often involves asking for clarification from whomever you’re communicating with first. He added that it’s human nature to get angry when someone aggravates you, but educators can’t afford to allow their anger to impact their relationships with their students.

“Don’t let [anger] get a hold of you and let it keep you from being as effective as you have trained to be,” he said. “Remember, that they’re speaking through the eyes of a 13, 14, 15 year old, not as an adult, and they’re going to see things differently.”

Last year’s Teacher of the Year Award winners were recognized as well: Dr. Cindy Meyer from South Arkansas Community College, Jessica Bailey of West Side Christian School, Scott Bounds from El Dorado and Gretchen McCurry of the Smackover-Norphlet School District.

The final minutes of the event featured a variety of gift cards and other door prizes from local businesses handed out to contestants.