Hickok visits Mark Twain | NevadaAppeal.com

Hickok visits Mark Twain

Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal U.S. Department of Education Deputy Secretary Gene Hickok, front, stands with Mark Twain Elementary principal Kathy Adair and a group of students during his visit to the elementary school. He was visiting the school to recognize the academic improvements the students have made.

Marching in step with first-graders to “You’re a Grand Ole Flag,” Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education Gene Hickok felt the energy of Mark Twain Elementary School.

His academic curiosity was piqued In Gary Morrison’s fifth-grade class, where students were studying a glacier in the back of the room and charting its coordinates.

“These are stories I’ll take all across the country,” he said. “People talk about test scores and data, but it’s the faces that matter.”

Hickok visited the Carson City elementary school Wednesday morning to recognize the improvements the school has made under the federal No Child Left Behind guidelines. After several years of falling short of meeting the requirements, the school achieved the “adequate yearly progress” designation this year.

“This is a school that is making the kind of progress we hope all our schools can make,” he said. “And they’re doing it despite the fact they have a diverse population.

“It’s because of the spirit and the attitude – the sense that anything is possible. You’d like to think this is what the country is all about.”

Hickok toured the school, visiting Christi Schmid and Joan Emehiser’s classroom just as the first-graders began their morning ritual of marching while singing the patriotic tune, “You’re a Grand Ole Flag.”

Hickok joined in.

He encouraged the students in Morrison’s class to continue their studies of math and science.

“I love science – it’s so interesting,” he said. “I appreciate what you’re doing. It’s terrific.”

Before leaving, Hickok left his business card with Morrison.

“I’d love to find out what you discover about the glacier,” Hickok said.

He credited teachers, students, administrators and parents for the success of the school.

“The law creates the infrastructure for people to make it work,” he said. “All the public policy in the world doesn’t work without the right people getting the job done. I appreciate what they’re doing.”

Jessica Daniels, vice principal, appreciated him in return.

“The validation and celebration of everybody here is what’s so exciting,” she said.

Contact Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1272.