In a normal school year, students slowly get to know their teachers through daily conversation, classroom jokes and banter. But, what about the mysterious hallway figures? The ones that–if you are doing what you are supposed to– you rarely interact with. These are administrators and, behind the intimidating exterior, they are people with a great story and, truly, your best interests at heart.
One of these administrators is John Slaton, a lifelong advocate for learning and education. Slaton attended McCamey High School, a small school in West Texas, where he participated in nearly everything: football, debate, band, theater, number sense, and more.
“From the earliest days, I loved school,” Slaton said. “I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity and love for learning. [But] the one aspect of my high school career that was missing was adequate preparation for college. I started at Angelo State, but finished at West Texas A&M, with many a bump along the way, to say the least. I did, though, have perseverance and an unwavering belief in the importance of an education.”
Initially, Slaton wanted to go into law, but when a few of his college professors had a great impact on him, he decided to become a teacher. In Bryan, Texas, he taught every kind of social studies course and even started a few of his own. To this day, AP US History is his favorite to teach. One day, however, Slaton decided to go into administration. He got his degree at Texas A&M and has been an administrator for 18 years, 12 of which at Medina Valley.
“To be honest, if I wasn’t fortunate enough to be at MVHS, I think I would have left administration long ago,” Slaton said. “The best part of being an administrator is getting to work with teachers to impact instruction. MVHS has some amazing teachers and being able to offer any and all assistance we can to make their lives easier and enable them to give students the best education possible, is what we strive to do.”
Slaton is definitely a great help to students, teachers, and administrators alike. With so much to do to keep a school running smoothly, Slaton takes on all kinds of duties.
“We administrators always collaborate and with Mr. Slaton’s wealth of knowledge and experience, he has great ideas in order to assist our students and staff,” Principal Lange said. “Mr. Slaton puts together our Staff Newsletter that we send out weekly. He outlines the week for the teachers including shout-outs, birthdays, etc. He also includes inspirational quotes for the staff to help motivate them and thank them for the hard work they do.”
Motivation is key when you are an administrator. But, despite the stress and endless challenges, Slaton always sees the importance of his role.
“Each day I am motivated by the reality that what we do here at MVHS matters,” Slaton said. “Some days are challenging, and some situations are frustrating. But every day I know, some child’s life was positively impacted and perhaps changed by their interactions with a teacher or another adult at school. While I may not be the one making that impact, I do what I can to enable others to make those connections and change lives. It may sound cliche, but it is true. Every teacher will positively affect the trajectory of countless students’ lives. To be a part of that is priceless.”
Of course, in this year, there have been more challenges to overcome than ever before. For administrators, it has been a matter of adapting to sudden changes and helping every teacher and student give and receive the best education possible.
“Challenges are what this school year has been all about,” Slaton said. “Teachers are bearing the greatest burden, so the challenges they are overcoming dwarf what I have faced. Additionally, so many students are dealing with pressures they have never encountered before. Our role as administrators is to do anything and everything we can to help lighten those loads.”
This year and a bit of last has deprived students of the best parts of high school. For the graduating class, Slaton says:
“Persevere! No matter what obstacles you encounter, and there will be many, fight through,” Slaton said. “You are stronger than you think. With grit, you can achieve your dreams. Nothing is going to be handed to you, but if you persevere, you can make for yourself a life worth living. And, life is short. It passes in the blink of an eye. Make every single day memorable. Make each day count!”
Many students do not realize that administrators are our advocates. Too often they are misjudged for a confiscated phone or dress code enforcement. Students, take the time to get to know your administrators and you will find that all their work is for your safety and education.
“I wish every student truly knew that we are on his/her side, always,” Slaton said. “My mission is to enable every student to maximize his/her potential. Sometimes that requires corrective action, but that action always comes from a place of love and concern. Life is hard. Learning as a teenager how to face life’s challenges and make good decisions is critical to having a chance at success and happiness.”
Thank you, Mr. Slaton, for all that you do for Medina Valley! Your impact is remarkable and your time and efforts endlessly appreciated.