Sedalia School District 200 teachers and staff were challenged to find their “why” as inspirational speaker Steve Gilliland addressed the district’s annual back-to-school assembly Monday, Aug. 19, in the Heckart Performing Arts Center.

Gilliland, a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame, weaved personal stories with a heavy dose of humor as he discussed the impact of key people in his life and encouraged the audience to stop saying, “It is what it is” and change their mindset to “It is what you make it."

In a survey of more than 500 respondents on the five most influential people in their lives, 97 percent named a teacher.

“This is not a job or a career, this is a calling,” Gilliland said. “(Y)ou can change the trajectory of a person’s life."

Gilliland urged those assembled to start the school year with three things: Purpose, passion and pride. He said, “Purpose is what drives us. … Passion is what fuels us and pride defines us.” He added that once a person figures out their purpose – their “why” – they will do it with a little more passion.

Fifth grade science teacher Phillip Ximinies, a first-year educator, found Gilliland’s address moving and engaging. “Gilliland really hit on the heart strings of all the educators in the building. He made it clear that educators play an important role in molding the lives of young students,” Ximinies said. “One positive interaction we make with an individual can benefit that individual in ways we never could have imagined.”
Sedalia 200 Superintendent Steve Triplett worked more than year to get Gilliland booked to address district staff.

“We like to start the school year off on an upbeat, positive note and having heard Mr. Gilliland speak at a professional development conference, I knew he would set the table the right way for us,” Triplett said. “I really embrace his points about having purpose, passion and pride in what you do.” Ximinies said Gilliland provided a morale boost for the entire district. “As a first year educator I want to be the best teacher I can possibly be,” he said. “I want to be that teacher on a student's top five list. I want to impact students’ lives for the better. Mr. Gilliland’s address has me pumped for the coming school year.”

In the photo: Inspirational speaker Steve Gilliland addresses Sedalia School District 200 faculty and staff members to close out the district's back-to-school meeting
Monday, Aug. 19, in the Heckart Performing Arts Center. Gilliland touched
on the influence of family and teachers in building personal success.