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Tierney gives high-fives with big heart

September 24, 2018 | 3:10 am

Updated September 25, 2018 | 7:18 am

Photo by AP Imagery

Country Heights Elementary School recently took first place in the district for high attendance, an accomplishment that can be attributed to the fun environment for learning fostered by teachers and staff — especially Family Resource Coordinator Patrick Tierney.

In his third year at Country Heights, Tierney works to help students with any non-educational barriers they may face. Those services could range from providing clothing to a student for the winter to prepping weekend food bags or helping a student’s family pay a utility bill.

“If a kid doesn’t have electricity all night, it will probably overlap to school,” Tierney said.

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While Tierney deals with a lot of serious situations every day, he also brings a lot of fun to the school day. He volunteers to greet students every day in the car rider line during parent drop off each morning. Calling most students by name, Tierney helps each child get out of their car and greets them with a loud, “Good morning!”

“Sometimes these kids get out looking a little depressed,” Tierney said. “A high-five, fist bump, maybe a compliment or two… anything to get their day started off on a positive note and help wake some of them up sometimes.”

And children aren’t the only ones in on the fun. Parents ask Tierney for high-fives too and some even try to compete with the music he is playing on a Bluetooth speaker in the drop-off line.

“I always try to drop my kids off at school on a positive note – either playing fun music and dancing or talking about fun things happening that day,” said Amanda Lamar, a parent to two boys at Country Heights. “Mr. Tierney definitely has that same spirit to start everyone’s day in a positive direction.”

Lamar says her oldest son has enjoyed Tierney’s leadership in archery club, which Tierney has been coaching since he started at Country Heights three years ago.

“Mr. Tierney started an ‘All Pro Dad’ club for dads to get together and support and learn from each other,” Lamar said. “He has made such a big impact in student lives at Country Heights.”

Barbara Poynter, an art teacher at Country Heights, says Tierney always has a smile on his face and is a “fun, cool” role model for students. But Poynter says students also respond to his kindness and the respect he shows them during their time of crisis.

“Mr. Tierney is good at comforting them when they are in a vulnerable state,” Poynter said. “He respects the family and the child.”

Poynter says it is that “yin and yang” that makes Tierney an asset to the school and students.

“He is very ‘kids first,’” Poynter said.

September 24, 2018 | 3:10 am

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