Lessons From My Version of MacGyver

As I was dropping my students off at music, I spotted our plant manager, known as Miss Shannon, who was walking a comically tiny bike across the courtyard.  As I ran to open the door to the main building, I joked with her about fitting onto the child-sized bike.  She explained that a student was upset because his bike had broken on his way to school.  She had fixed it for him and was cruising it by his classroom so he would see that it was fixed and have a better day.


Shannon is not only our incredible plant manager.  She’s also our current Parent/Teacher Organization (PTO) Vice President.  When we were encouraged to blog about those people who help make our schools work for American Education Week, Miss Shannon was the first person to come to my mind.

Shannon didn’t actually show up at the PTO meeting last year with the intention of running for Vice President.  She was setting up chairs for our 8th grade promotion and sat down to listen to the PTO meeting when the Board asked for nominations.  Some co-workers jokingly added her name to the list and she thought, “I can do more.  I’m here every day anyway!  And I have all the keys!”  She credits her POW grandfather and teacher sister as her inspiration for getting involved with our PTO.  Their examples taught her to help people who need help.

Shannon shared some insights with me, especially about what she’s learned about schools in her three years as plant manager.  She likens a school to an Emergency Room where someone always needs help right away.  But she says that is exactly what keeps her job interesting – it tests her, and keeps her learning and overcoming circumstances.  She has a lot in common with MacGyver.   MacGyver was always saving the day with little more than what is in his pocket and some duct tape.  Let’s just say I’ve seen Shannon do some amazing things with Saran wrap and a seat belt.  She calls students her “job security” because they will always put pencils down the toilet, bleed, vomit, and draw on the walls.

Interestingly, Shannon experiences the plant manager version of “teacher guilt” (teachers feel terrible about being home sick and leaving their students with a Guest Teacher).  She knows that when she is gone, we rely on a plant manager located somewhere else and “messes” can take hours to be cleaned.  We certainly miss her when she is out!

After a successful first big event, the annual Sunset Hills Fall Festival, Shannon looked at her pedometer and saw she had logged 22,328 steps in six hours.  In spite of her hard work, she passes along the credit to the teacher and parent volunteers for the outstanding event.  She said she was happy to help with what they needed.

I also asked Shannon what message would she have for the governor and legislators regarding education funding in our state.  Though reluctant to share her opinion for fear of repercussions, the bottom line for her is that we need better base level funding for every school across the state.

The students, staff, and families of Sunset Hills are lucky to have Miss Shannon in our lives.  Who do you rely on to help your school operate on a daily basis?  I hope some of you are lucky enough to have your own MacGyvers…or Miss Shannons.




Beth Maloney

I am in my twentieth year of teaching and enjoy every minute of my time in the classroom. I have taught kindergarten, third grade, and currently teach fifth-grade science and social studies in Surprise, Arizona. I am an enthusiastic public school advocate. I am a National Board Certified Teacher and a Candidate Support Provider for the Arizona K12 Center, where I coach and mentor other teachers undergoing the rigorous National Board certification. I am the past president and co-founder of the Arizona National Board Certified Teacher Network and president and founder of the Arizona Chapter of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. I am honored to be Arizona’s 2014 Teacher of the Year and appreciate having the opportunity to represent the teachers of Arizona. I love talking with and learning from other teachers around the world. I strongly believe that teacher voice in the public education dialogue is the best way to make change for the better for all students.

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