Time is an Asset: Making the Most of Educator’s Time

By Jeff Ellsworth, Principal, Chapman School, Chapman, NE

There are 365 days in a year; 8,760 hours in a year, 24 hours in a day, the typical school day is 8 hours.  How can you make this time most valuable for your school and students?

There is never enough time!   Educators all over America feel the pressures of curricular demands, administrative demands, personal demands, and the demands of everyday life! We are all short on time, which leads to being short on patience, as well.   

A Nebraska Fellow on the most valuable aspect of the TrueSchool experience: We were given the time to collaborate and just THINK!”

Chapman School, though small and set in a rural town in the middle of Nebraska, where all of those pressures and more are always prevalent, found “extra” time to devote to our school, our students, and their families.  We would love the opportunity to help you do the same.

Last year, a team of six educators from Chapman School decided to give of themselves and make time to impact not only their students, but the families of the students that attend Chapman School.  

Our mission was and continues to be engaging our families to help us better educate their children and improve literacy skills and build a welcoming environment where people are not judged by their appearance, their wealth (or lack thereof), or their own educational backgrounds.  

The TrueSchool Fellowship helped us to find this focus.  Through several collaborative TrueSchool Studios (face-to-face sessions) and Zoom meetings with our Coach, we were able to dig down and find the one common strand we didn’t know we all shared.  

We came to realize that the one piece that was missing from our school was parental engagement. 

We made it our mission to find ways to involve parents in their children’s education by offering opportunities to come into our school for fun activities and offer parental guidance on topics of interest such as: Reading for Fun; Internet Safety; Bullying; to name a few.  Our staff put together mini-seminars for parents and enticed them with freebies and our Booster Club pitched in with some free food. We now hold an annual “Special Person Day,” a School Carnival, “Bingo for Books,” Author visits…and we are still developing topics and events to share with parents!

Throughout this process, time was the one variable that we stressed about most in developing our mission

We were giving up Saturdays (during college football season, this was a killer for me!  I have a Division I student-athlete at UNI-University of Northern Iowa-GO PANTHERS!), time after school for team meetings, and for Zoom meetings with our Coach.

We gave up 4 Saturdays, an hour after school three-to-four times per month, and several evenings to make our mission a reality. Most of our parent engagement events are held on weekends or on weeknights.  Again, time was and still is the variable.   

We saw this time commitment pay off in the relationships we developed with parents and families.  You can read more about our impact here!

Some of the benefits from our year with TrueSchool include:

  • Our families appreciated the time we gave them on a personal note in their homes.
  • We built a better camaraderie amongst our staff.
  • We found commonality in our beliefs.
  • We discovered about our community and their willingness to help us with our mission
  • This was a very worthwhile venture for our school and we will continue to plan and provide.

Our mission is not your mission.  You may not know what your mission is, yet.  It took us three TrueSchool Studios and several follow-up meetings with our TrueSchool Coach to find our mission.  

Our experience tells us that you too can find your mission, if you are willing to give up some time.  Life happens for all of us, but I bet you could find 2-3 hours per day that you could dedicate to something more.

What will you do and how will you do it?  How will you make the most of your team’s time?


JEFF ELLSWORTH, TrueSchool Coach, 2018-2019 TrueSchool Fellow

Jeff Ellsworth is currently the principal of Chapman School, a small PK-5 school in Chapman, NE, part of the Grand Island Northwest school district. With 26 years of experience in education, he is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Middle School Education, and a Master’s in Educational Administration.

Jeff is also a proud husband and father of four girls ranging from a senior at University of Northern Iowa to a 4th grader, who are actively engaged in sports, cheerleading and dance.

Jeff and a team of five of his staff members, joined the TrueSchool Team in 2018. Their successful mission was to build strong family connections by engaging the whole family in activities hosted at school centering around literacy. He is very excited to now be part of the core TrueSchool Team and looks forward to helping schools to find their mission and help them to impact students more deeply and meaningfully.