Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Job perk: Meeting some great people right here in Kuna

What a great job I have. Just in this week’s issue alone, you can tell I had the opportunity to meet some really fascinating people. This is my job. I get to meet great people, interview them, write down what they have to say, then share it with the community. Unbelievable.
I’ll start with Russell Hayes and the family of Abdul Farhan Salman, the Iraqi family who now live in Kuna because of the efforts of Russell and several others.
Russell is an unassuming person, quiet, humble. He believes in providence and miracles. Well into his 50s, he gets called up for military service in Iraq. Rather than fight his deployment, his wife tells him that perhaps he’s being sent there for a reason. He goes to Iraq, meets a family in need and helps them come to the United States. Russell almost seems to shy away from taking credit, preferring instead to list off the names of all the people who helped.
But, obviously, were it not for Russell, these folks would not be here.
Abdul, himself, is a welcome addition to the city of Kuna. We should be proud to call him neighbor. He is to be considered an American hero. Putting his and his own family’s life at risk, he refused to act as a terrorist and turned down a request to help others kill Americans in Iraq. You hear stories all the time about roadside bombs and suicide bombers. Yet here is someone who refused to go along with one such plot and in the process saved countless untold American lives. And he paid a serious price. He lost a nephew, who was kidnapped and beaten to death for refusing to aid the terrorists.
I had the great good fortune of being invited to lunch at this family’s home a few weeks ago. What an honor I felt to share a meal with this family. I am proud to have them as my neighbors, and I can only hope that their children will go to Crimson Point and perhaps my own sons can become their friends.
And speaking of school, another terrific person I got to meet was Donene Rognlie, the new principal at Hubbard Elementary School.
Donene is just what the Kuna school district needs. She is fired up about teaching, about education, about methods of educating, about helping students learn and about helping teachers teach.
And best of all, she’s from Kuna. She’s a 13-year club member and Kuna High graduate, inspired to teach by one of her Kuna teachers. She has taught in Kuna for the past 12 years. Her first year of teaching was in Melba.
It is heartening to see the Kuna school district recognize internal talent and reward that talent by promoting from within. In fact, Donene told me that she would have waited for a principal opening in Kuna rather than go to Nampa or Meridian. That tells you two things. One, she loves Kuna and doesn’t want to leave, and two, she was still happy teaching and could have continued teaching indefinitely. She wasn’t moving up just for the sake of moving up or getting ahead. Congratulations to Donene and congratulations to the district for moving her up.
This job affords me a tremendous opportunity to meet such a wide range of people, and I think I’ve taken advantage of that opportunity over the past three years. It still amazes me, though, just how many wonderful people can live in one small community.

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