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Children, like horses, require gentle handling; Flippen

Once M.B. "Flip" Flippen walked onstage at the first General Session of the IASB/IASA/IASBO Conference, you knew the subject matter somehow would involve horses.

And it did.

But the lanky Flippen, whose image in a colorful horse wrangler's outfit immediately spurred thoughts of "Woody," the principle character in the computer-animated film, "Toy Story," explained how he used the same techniques to successfully raise cattle, horses, and kids.

Comparing a wild Mustang to a troubled teenager, Flippen suggested that school leaders and parents need to develop their non-verbal skills in order to secure the trust of their charges.

"Horses are prey animals, and if they become socially isolated, they become vulnerable to attack," Flippen said. "The same thing happens to kids."

Showing numerous film clips of the renowned "horse whisperer", Monty Roberts, Flippen demonstrated how non-threatening tactics involving touch and signals can be used to effectively gain control of highly spirited or even damaged animals.

"Horses, like kids, come with baggage," he continued. "But we tend to use the same techniques with all of them. Because it's the only way we know how and what we are used to doing."

His message, reinforced later by a young man who survived a brutal childhood to join Flippen in his educational work, concluded with, "if you have a child's heart, you can have his head."

Earlier in the session, introduced by IASB President Christy Coleman, Geneseo CUSD 228, awards were presented for outstanding school architecture and reducing workmen's compensation costs.

Presented by Coleman and exhibit co-chairman Wil Helmick, Phillips Swager Associates, Peoria, an Award of Distinction in the 2003 Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments was presented to Bailey Edward Design and representatives of their project, the Early Childhood Learning Center, Champaign CUSD 4.

Joanne Binotti also presented the Risk Management/David Binotti Award to representatives of Clinton CUSD 15.

Also joining the first General Session was Carol C. Brown, president of the National School Boards Association. Her message of community engagement was directed at grandparents, business owners, teachers, parents, and community leaders.

"The job of education children requires the collaboration of all of these people. Successful schools are the heart of successful communities," she said.

Other participants in the opening session included the posting of colors by East Aurora District 131 NJROTC Color Guard, Angie Clark of Geneseo, who sang the National Anthem, and Joe Alesandrini, of Pekin CHSD 303, who sought support for the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance PAC.



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