Starfish Story: Jeff WintersPublished 2:00pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The starfish thrower story tells of a young man on a beach, seemingly unaware of his surroundings as he is focused on the task before him: to throw as many starfish that are stranded on the beach back into the sea to save their lives.
As we look around our district, we find many examples of starfish throwers, but one person at Dowagiac Middle School seems to exemplify this hero.
Jeff Winters is a student advocate at DMS, and day in and day out, he walks the halls of our school finding ways to move our students in a direction that will ultimately save their lives. He is focused on his students, and he isn’t distracted from his purpose.
In one version of the starfish story, an old man peers down the beach and sees a figure off in the distance moving like a dancer.
On any given morning if you peer down our hallway, you will see a figure zigging and zagging through the sea of middle schoolers in an on-going dance, touching base with all of his students.
Every morning, Jeff checks in with his “starfish” to make sure they are ready for a successful day.
While it may seem insignificant to you and me, that morning contact can mean the world to our students.
The story goes on to describe the old man asking the young fellow why he would keep going with such a daunting task before him.
“You can’t possibly make a difference,” he says.
But much like the young man in the story, Jeff doesn’t give up. He spends many hours working one-on-one with students throughout the day. They talk about grades and school and organization.
Jeff can be found eating lunch with a student as she finishes missing work or at a child’s locker that has just exploded with papers: The two carefully sort through the mess to reorganize the student’s papers.
Because of Jeff, many students now know where to find their homework from the day before. Students are prepared for class, and they are excited about school and taking control of their learning.
Because of Jeff, students know they have someone who is looking out for them, someone who is proud of them and someone who will move mountains for them.
If you ask Jeff what he thinks about the middle school, he will chuckle and say, “It’s fun. It’s a great age, and I can make a difference. I don’t think I have ever had a boring day here!”
Just like the young starfish thrower’s response to the old man, “I made a difference to that one,” Jeff knows he has an impact and he continues to be a hero for so many middle school students.
— MATT SEVERIN, DMS Principal
Tags: Dowagiac Middle School