I Was Born in a Small Town…

I was born in a small town; well…actually I wasn’t.  Where my parents’ lived and I grew up is extremely rural and the nearest town (25 minutes away & where I graduated High School) was too small for a hospital. So actually I was “Born in a City” about an hour and a half from my home.  I was only there 24 hours; then it was off to the country for me!

Over the past four weeks of the new school year I have had a renewed appreciation of life in small town America & in small, rural schools. I have been reflecting on various experiences from these past four weeks as a Principal, Parent, and Community Member. I feel so blessed to be part of rural small towns & schools.

Here are some of the “Small Town” & “Small School” things my family & I have been part of in the past four weeks:

  • Reading “Rally” where I was the top of a Human Pyramid of Teachers. (Cheerleader Style) The students screamed in delight; the staff screamed because they were scared!
  • At the same Rally I was dressed as an Owl (Trash bag stuffed with paper towels, mask, paper wings & belly, & glo bracelets). I fluttered out in the dark to climb up & perch in a tree (a 10 foot ladder with tree branches allover it- crafted by one of our student’s grandpa’s) in honor of our Elementary Reading Theme: “Owl” Be Reading at St. Paul Elementary. (Of course this made the local paper!)
  • Bought “Bull-Drop” Tickets in support of our High School FFA (Classic Southern Small Town Fundraiser!)
  • Signed on to mentor 2 of our amazing teachers in their Administrative Internships this year: YAY! (These same ladies told me they would never be Principals when I started in on them 3 years ago!  Teacher leadership really does matter!)
  • Did the #ALSicebucketchallenge with my whole staff; student body got to do the “water dumping.”
  • Hosted the annual “Pioneer Days” completely on our school campus: THE EVENT in our small town; bands, vendors, lots & lots of people!
  • My 10-year old daughter sang the National Anthem to kick off “Pioneer Days”- and she #rocked if I do say so myself!
  • We brought back the “Miss St. Paul Pageant” an age-old tradition that had died a slow death and hadn’t been done since I arrived in St. Paul Schools.  We had 43 contestants K-12 (that’s huge when you remember we only have 225 students!). We provided dresses, hair, and makeup free to anyone who asked. This was an awesome community event and everyone involved was a winner
  • One of our teachers was so impressed with the courage and poise of the participants in the pageant she gave CASH prizes to all finalists and winners – this was an unbelievably generous gesture!
  • My husband has his first practice as coach of our son’s 5 y/o football team tomorrow night in the small town where we live (40 mins from my school).
  • My daughter’s first peewee basketball game is tomorrow night @ Oark, one of the few schools in Arkansas that is actually smaller than ours!
  • I’ve spent 2 hours operating the commercial dishwasher in our cafeteria during our PTSO Chicken Dinner; as y’all can imagine, IT WASN’T PRETTY!
  • I’ve had more obligations afterschool than I can ever remember; yet I’ve never had to worry about my kids because other staff or parents consistently offer to help me.
  • Our first graders chose to do this writing prompt: “What makes Mrs. Duerr a great principal?” Now reading those made my month!


So…..WHAT MAKES “Small town life” SO GREAT? All of these things & the bad stuff too! It’s the fact that I know every single child on my campus’s name & their parents’ name (& probably their grandparents’). I know student’s academic strengths & weaknesses. As their Principal I know their current dreams and talk to them about pursuing them. I see students who would normally never participate in extra-curricular activities due to introverted personalities or economic difficulties now playing sports, being in pageants, and going on field trips where they go out to a restaurant for the first time in their lives.

I LOVE WHAT A SMALL TOWN OFFERS…however, honestly I’ll probably live in a “Big City” someday and I bet I’ll be writing a blog similar to this one singing the praises of city life! I love my job (education), I love my family, and I love making a difference…from anywhere!

Just a little FYI…Miss Arkansas competing in tonight’s 2015 Miss America Competition is from “small town” Arkansas: my hometown.

One Response to "I Was Born in a Small Town…"

  1. Teresa said:

    They are very fortunate to have you. Your enthusiasm is inspiring. 🙂

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