Some teachers at Clovis Unified’s annual school kickoff Tuesday were hired by Floyd “Doc” Buchanan. Some never met him.
But all 5,000 employees at the general session, a staff pep rally held at Save Mart Center in Fresno in anticipation of next week’s return to class, had heard much about the longtime Clovis educator, who died last week at age 91.
Buchanan, Clovis Unified’s first and longest-serving superintendent, is credited for molding the high-achieving school district into what it is today.
On Tuesday, teachers wore T-shirts with different “Doc-isms” written across the back, like “A fair break for every kid” and “Get back in the fight.” Buchanan was known to use many such sayings to inspire teachers and students over his 30-year career in Clovis.
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“I will be forever grateful,” Clovis Unified Superintendent Janet Young told teachers about her time with Buchanan. “Remember that we are all living Doc’s legacy.”
While Buchanan retired from the district 25 years ago, administrators encouraged teachers Tuesday to continue his mission of pushing children to achieve.
Clovis Unified school board president Ginny Hovsepian remembered Buchanan for caring about the district in ways big and small – recalling him replacing broken light bulbs in schools.
“Let’s continue to build on Doc’s foundation,” she said. “Watch for ways that we can be better, and speak up or act when you see opportunities for improvement. From top to bottom, we must be open to suggestions and ideas on how we can improve.”
Catherine Alkire first met Dr. Buchanan when she was a Clovis Unified student. He later interviewed her for her first job as a Clovis Unified teacher in 1986.
We want you to teach students to win with class and to lose with dignity, but we also want you to teach them that there is a lot more to being a winner than the final game score.
Floyd B. ‘Doc’ Buchanan in ‘Doc’s Charge,’ the contract given to new Clovis Unified teachers
“Your final interview was with Dr. Buchanan, and that was a really big deal,” said Alkire, now a teacher at Weldon Elementary School. “He used to come to the schools and actually help teach in classrooms, which I don’t think many superintendents do. He was always out and about and visible.
“My hope would be that now that he’s really gone, the district can continue to remind us of who he was so that the younger teachers know about the philosophy of Clovis Unified.”
Changes were made to this year’s general session after teachers raised concerns about the cost of the mandatory event. The district has no teachers union, but Faculty Senate representatives requested that the district avoid hiring costly outside speakers like in years past, according to Duane Goudy, Clovis Unified Faculty Senate president.
“We decided that we have enough people here that are high-quality speakers that we didn’t need to bring people in from the outside,” Goudy said. “We did have some issues, but we work together. We’re a family, and every family has its issues. But we’re here for the kids – I’m not just saying that, that’s the way it is.”
Instead, much of Tuesday’s event presented teachers with different awards and featured videos of former students, now spread out across the country, telling stories about their favorite teachers.
The district also pushed the event to Tuesday after teachers asked tohave their first day back to school to prepare their classrooms for students.
$15,000Clovis Unified’s cost to rent the Save Mart Center
The primary cost of this year’s event was about $15,000 – the amount that the district spent to rent Save Mart Center, according to Clovis Unified spokeswoman Kelly Avants. The district also paid for things like transportation and T-shirts.
Fresno Unified School District heard pushback from teachers last week about the cost of their annual employee convocation, also held at Save Mart Center.
Fresno Teachers Association said the event, held on the first day teachers are required to report back, should not be mandatory and that the money spent to host the event could be put to better use. Fresno Unified hired David Coleman, president and CEO of the College Board – the organization that oversees the SAT college entrance exam – to speak.
Fresno Unified officials have not responded to questions about the cost, only saying that several sponsors contributed funding. Fresno Unified trustee Carol Mills posed questions about the cost of the convocation at a board meeting last week.