A legendary emcee, George Shea is best known for his over the top, July 4th, introductions on ESPN for the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. A master communicator, and the fire behind the popularity of Major League Eating, and the IFOCE (International Federation of Competitive Eating), Shea magically brings competitive eating contests to life. Dressed as a sideshow barker, his banter and fast-paced turns of phrase, keep the energy high and the competitors motivated at the international events.
Energy and motivation, these are two things Montville Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. René Rovtar is known for. As the district prepared for the challenging reopening of schools, following the abrupt and lengthy COVID-19 shutdown, Rovtar searched for a fun way to inspire and maintain energy and motivation for the district’s outstanding educators, who are facing unprecedented challenges.
“I reached out to George at the beginning of August,” Rovtar said. “George is probably the greatest emcee on the planet. He was very willing to provide a greeting for our faculty and staff.”
The result is a one minute and thirteen second motivational message of pure enthusiasm. As faculty and staff returned to both in-person and virtual classes on Tuesday, September, 8, 2020, they were greeted by an e-mail from Rovtar with a link to a welcome back video of Shea with inspiring words:
“We face a challenge like none other,” Shea begins. He speaks as though he is one with the faculty. “An enemy we don’t understand. And we have no tools. And we have no resources. And we have no weapons. But we are not alone. We stand shoulder to shoulder…. And we will charge the hill together, and, if one of us falls, we will pick them up and we will advance the cause, because we are the Montville Schools’ faculty and staff, led by Rene Rovtar.”
Rovtar, a competitive eater, when not at work, explained that Shea took only a few days to prepare the video in time for the first day of classes.
“I was delighted when he sent it to me,” Rovtar said. “When you listen to some of his carefully chosen words: ‘We are the first and final pillar of civilization,’ for example, that really captures the importance of the work that teachers do every day.”
With a combination of true showmanship, and heartfelt admiration, Shea’s words of comfort and gravity both inspire and elevate:
“We are the first and final pillar of civilization,” Shea proclaims about the Montville Township educators. “Education. Take a look around. It’s our last hope. And it is GO time.”
Alluding not only to the immediate future of the district’s 3,416 students, but also, the future of the state, the nation and the world, Shea emphasized:
“It is GO time, TIME.”
Montville Township Public Schools completed the first four days of the 2020-2021 academic year on Friday, September 11. The pre-kindergarten to grade twelve district supports 3,416 students in seven educational facilities. This school year, due to the Corona Virus pandemic, roughly one-third of the students are full-time virtual students. Two-thirds of the students are attending schools both in-person and virtually. Many will be in-person on an AA/BB schedule. All are half day. Additionally, due to a state-wide substitute teacher shortage, only five of the seven district schools could accommodate in-person instruction beginning September 8. Currently the district’s middle school and high school students are 100% virtual. Those who have opted to attend in-person will return to the middle school and high school on Monday, September 21. In the classrooms, students and teachers are wearing facial coverings, maintaining social distance, and interactively learning together with remote students. On the first day of classes, as the final 841, of the district’s 3,416 students, logged-in to their first day of school, there was a town-wide power outage due to an unrelated transformer failure. Yet, despite the challenges and the unexpected, faculty and staff are providing an engaging, child-centered, educational environment of cooperative learning and instructional scaffolding. Students are learning.
“We have the best faculty and staff assembled to overcome any challenges that might arise,” Rovtar said of the Montville Township Public Schools faculty, staff and administrators. “I thought George’s video would be a different and fun message to share for our school opening this year.”
Shea concludes his message with a unifying command: “Onward!”