The 2017-18 school year begins Monday, Aug. 28, for the Glen Rose Independent School District, and there is one key thing all students should know. If any of their teachers show up wearing an eyepatch and pirate hat, don’t be alarmed.

They're just inspired.

The teachers who will be guiding the students got an energetic pep talk from a “pirate” of sorts when the author of a former New York Times bestseller titled “Teach Like a Pirate” spoke to them during the annual GRISD Convocation last week.

Burgess, a former U.S. history teacher at the high school level in California, now runs Dave Burgess Consulting and publishes books aimed at helping teachers. He’s also a magician/showman who entertains with high-energy, rapid-fire presentations that include baffling card tricks and humor. He has been doing teacher seminars since 2009.

Before he took the stage, Burgess explained that his idea was rooted in the image of a pirate having a “hook” — and that teachers need their own methods to “hook” students into learning.

He said he tries to encourage teachers to “be more engaging, creative and passionate” about their subject matter, along with being innovative and unconventional.

“He brings a lot of passion into education,” GRISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan told the Glen Rose Reporter later that afternoon. “His challenge to the teachers is to put that same fire into each day to make your classroom more engaging and make the lessons more applicable to life experiences.”

During Rotan’s segment of the convocation, his pep talk included that similar sentiment, encouraging teachers to “come with fire and passion to make your students better.”

Rotan added that he wants them to “set high expectations for all students,” and “create lessons to inspire, take risks and think outside the box.”

“We’ve got to have a growth mindset, not an excuse mindset,” stated Rotan, who is entering his 13th year as the GRISD’s superintendent.

TECHNOLOGY UPGRADE

The GRISD had previously announced school board approval of a technology upgrade over the summer, in part because of the changing world of technology and that “growth” mindset.

Students in grades 6-12 are getting new MacBook notebook computers for their school work, but they are easily portable and can be taken home each night as well.

Even in pre-kindergarten through fifth grades, students have MacBooks.

“As a district, we’ve certainly been on the forefront of technology,” Rotan said. “This year we purchased new MacBooks for high school and passed some down (to junior high) and bought some iPads to use at the intermediate and elementary campuses.”

It’s a necessary step forward in today’s world, in which there are no more graduating classes filled with students born in the 20th Century, Rotan noted.

“Today’s students, they’ve never known a world that didn’t include a smart phone,” he said. “Students come to us with unbelievable technology skills, and we try to build upon the skills they already have.”

GRISD will issue backpacks for the MacBooks to students in grades 6 through 12, Rotan noted.

MOST VALUABLE COMMODITY

Rotan said there are approximately 1,800 students enrolled in the GRISD for the 2017-18 school year. That represents an overall growth of 3.5 percent in student population, he said.

“I was expecting around there, and I think that number will go up,” said Rotan, who noted that the bulk of the student increase will be seen in the intermediate and junior high school grade levels, “particularly fifth and seventh grades.”

Rotan said the school district is starting to see some growth connected with the DFW Metroplex. He said that the Chisholm Trail Toll Road makes the commute to Fort Worth only about a 30-minute drive.

With everyone trying to get used to the normal school routine once again, Rotan noted that there will be inevitable traffic congestion, and potential danger. He urged drivers to slow down and stay alert to avoid any potential accidents involving children who may not be paying attention.

“I want to remind people that the first week around the school campuses there will be heavy traffic. We urge them to use caution in school zones when they see buses. School buses contain the world’s most valuable commodity — our children,” Rotan stated.

He also advised that parents should be aware that bus routes take a little longer to complete at the start of each new school year.