Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
When the principal walks into a classroom, it isn’t usually something the students are excited to see, but, for the students at MacArthur Elementary School, seeing Principal Tyler Fowler is the highlight of the day, especially when he is wearing his celebration shoes.
“I spend a lot of my summer reading and trying to improve as a leader and one of the things I always read about is making sure you’re celebrating at your school. That is something I know I could get better at is recognizing and celebrating,” Fowler said. “We don’t always just have to celebrate the big things. Even if it is a small victory, it is still a victory.
“This year, we are introducing WIGs — Wildly Important Goals,” he said. “My original idea is that if a staff member, class or student reached their goal, I would wear the shoes to celebrate … and it has become a fun way to celebrate all of the great successes, large or small, that we have at Mac.”
Fowler came up with the idea for the shoes when his son, Carson Fowler, designed a similar pair of shoes that represented Brown University in Providence, R.I., where he is currently a student.
“I watched him do it and thought, ‘I could do that,’” Fowler said.
Over the summer break, Fowler said he ordered a pair of all white shoes, and then used permanent markers to decorate them in MacArthur Mustang designs. The shoes include a mustang on the vamp of the left shoe; the words “Learn. Lead. Achieve” on the vamp of the right shoe as well as the collar bindings to represent the school’s new mission statement; the words “All In” on the heels of the shoes to represent the catchphrase “Mustangs Are All In;” five stars on the outside quarters of the shoes to represent the five stars on the MacArthur shield and the school namesake Gen. of the Army Douglas MacArthur; and “MacArthur Mustangs” on the inside quarters.
“It is all free hand, so it took a while,” Fowler said.
Gretchen Martens, MacArthur art teacher, said Fowler has always had a creative side.
“He is very artistic,” she said. “When he was a classroom teacher, he had works of art that he had done on display in his room. … We are lucky to have such a creative principal, always looking for new ways to motivate our staff and students.”
Since the beginning of the schoolyear, several students, staff and classes have given Fowler reasons to sport his colorful shoes. Students in Tammy Irminger’s fourth-grade class got their turn Sept. 26 when they colored a paper with the word “SPECIALS” after earning a letter for eight consecutive days during their four specials classes throughout the week — art, music, library and physical education.
“Typically, the beginning of the year, (the students) struggle to show the same level of expectation in specials because that teacher they only see once, maybe twice, a week,” Irminger said. “We can earn a letter in specials occasionally, but I said that the goal needed to be something that was hard to reach and a challenge, so they had to get it consecutively.
“That way, they had to hold each other accountable,” she said.
Aiden Madetzke, 9, said he was excited to see Fowler come in the classroom wearing his shoes.
“We don’t really see him around the building a lot because he is usually in the office working,” Madetzke said. “This is the first time he’s come in for us, and it was pretty exciting.”
Irminger said she likes that Fowler came up with the shoes just for that reason.
“That was his way of personalizing the way that he is going to motivate and inspire not only the staff, but the classes,” she said. “I like him getting involved in everything that we’re doing in the classroom, and it shows the kids that not just the teachers are behind you, but the staff and faculty and even the principal, he notices when you’ve made a goal.”