When parents drop off their kids in car line at Benton Elementary, they never know what they will see. Will the principal be in a turkey suit, dressed as Uncle Sam or in some other crazy attire? One thing for sure is students, staff and parents alike love the joyous spirit Kim Hawkins has brought to campus.
This is the first year Priscilla Borrego’s two children have attended Benton Elementary. They are a military family that transferred to Louisiana two days before school started and they could not love going there more.
“Every morning, every single morning, come rain or shine, the principal of this school leads by example,” Borrego wrote. “She is out there with her staff directing traffic to get these kids into class quicker and get parents off to work. She has a smile on her face, she dances for the kids, dresses up in fun costumes and my children and myself absolutely love it. My children love when she comes on the intercom and tells jokes that the kids submit … And my kids’ attitude about school is something that I haven’t seen before. I know it comes from excellent leadership, sprinkling down to the teachers to the children. This woman goes above and beyond.”
Hawkins has earned the adoration of her faculty and staff as well and is cited for putting others before herself.
“The positive and joyous climate change she brought to our school has saved many teachers,” said Reannon Moseley. “She is caring, supporting, loving and best of all good-hearted. She is always the last to leave our school and is constantly working on how to keep our students and all faculty loved and cared for.”
Normally the one to surprise her students and staff, the tables were turned on Hawkins recently when she was called to an “emergency” in the cafeteria. District administrators, teachers, the Borregos and representatives from Bossier Federal Credit Union were huddled inside to announce she was recipient of Bossier Schools’ Gold Star award for the month of November.
“I was so humbled to be nominated by a teacher and a parent,” Hawkins later reflected. “My vision for Benton Elementary is to create an environment where students, staff and parents feel welcomed and accepted. When I was listening to the letters from Mrs. Moseley and Mrs. Borrego, I felt like my dreams are becoming reality.”
The 15-year elementary educator and former Assistant Principal credits the incredible mentors she has had over the years for picking up great leadership skills and learning early on that the magic really happens when a student knows that you truly care about them.
It is evident Hawkins finds joy not only in building lasting relationships with her students and their families, but also interjecting fun into each day.
“Educators face so many challenges and I think it’s imperative for the leadership at the school to create pockets of joy in the day,” Hawkins added. “Just a little dance party or small treat brings so much joy to our teachers and lets them know that I am cheering them on. They truly do the heavy lifting at the school each day. I love playing little jokes on my staff and students just to make them smile.”
She went on to say, “We need to show the students that education is a joyful profession because we want to build an interest for the future educators. If the only thing a student sees about being a teacher is that it’s stressful and boring, then why would they want to join this profession? I have lots of students tell me that they want to grow up and be a teacher or a principal and I take that as a huge compliment!”
Like her parents and staff, Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey cannot sing Hawkins’ praises loudly enough, either.
“I admire her because she sees no titles. She just does what needs to be done to make things work. She’s all hands on deck and never asks anyone to do anything she’s not willing to do herself. That says something about her character and how she values people.” Downey added, “Sometimes we overuse the term ‘servant leader,’ but Mrs. Hawkins is the perfect example of a servant leader.”
And Bossier Schools’ latest shining Gold Star.
Editor’s note: Know someone who works for Bossier Schools that is deserving of recognition for going above and beyond? Nominate them for the Gold Star award, proudly sponsored for the last nine years by Bossier Federal Credit Union. Just go tohttps://www.bossierschools.org/goldstarnews and tell us what sets them apart.