BETTENDORF — Each morning at 7:30 a.m., Kevin Skillett walks through the doors at Bettendorf High School expecting to make a difference.
The associate principal at BHS not only wants to make an impression on as many of the nearly 1,600 students as he can; his hope is that he also will make every teacher and paraprofessional better at their jobs than they were the day before.
After a few early-morning meetings and a look at his email, Skillett settles in the Commons area as students begin to trickle through the front doors.
As he scans the open area, Skillett takes a few minutes to talk about his college days and how he made the decision to get into education.
A 1990 graduate of East Moline's United Township High School, Skillett went to Augustana College in Rock Island to play basketball. That lasted a year, and then he moved on to the University of Iowa, where he went from being a walk-on basketball player to a scholarship player for the Hawkeyes.
"I wanted to go into education, but because of the basketball season going over two semesters, I had to wait," Skillett says. "I moved on to St. Ambrose (University in Davenport) to get my education degree and worked for two years as a graduate assistant coach for the women's basketball team.
"I went into education because my experiences at UT were great with my teachers. I have always enjoyed helping people and trying to make a difference in someone else's life."
It is 8:10 a.m., and Skillett shouts, "Let's go!" to the students in the Commons. It is time for them to break up their conversations and start heading to their lockers and then to classes.
A few minutes later, he walks out of the Commons and surveys the hallways while talking to staff members as they begin to go about their day.
A short meeting in his office with a member of the teaching staff about a student ends at 8:27, and Skillett thanks the staff member and says, "Let's walk" and heads to the hallways.
"This is where I love to be," Skillett says. "The key to me is getting in the hallways and classrooms so the students see us. The key these days is getting the kids in the building — attendance has become an issue at every school in recent years.
"I enjoy supervising in the halls because that is a great time to talk to the kids outside of the classroom atmosphere."
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Skillett spent his first first 15 years as a coach. He was the girls' head basketball coach his first three years and then moved to the boys' team. He then took over as athletic director for five years.
As a coach and AD, Skillett had just a small number of students he dealt with on a daily basis. That's why he decided to make the move to associate principal when the position opened up.
"My brother, Jeff, is in his 27th or 28th year in education. He became an administrator and then got out of it to get back to the classroom," Skillett says. "I think for both of us, we couldn't ever see doing anything else. I miss the coaching, especially when practice starts in November.
"But I want to have the ability to impact every student in the building. Would I want to be a principal? It would have to be down the line when I learn more, and it would have to be the right opportunity. I just know I love Bettendorf. I started here, and I want to finish here."
It is 8:45, and Skillett returns to his office to talk more about his love for the school and the job.
As he looks out at the office secretaries, he notes he would be remiss if he didn't mention how important the administrator's secretaries are to him and the rest of the office staff.
"There is no real day-to-day here because you just never know what will happen when you walk in the building," Skillett says. "What I do know is we have an amazing staff of teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, nurses and secretaries. That's what runs the school.
"There are so many things that happen that we never see because we have trust that those people can make the right decisions and do the best for our students. We work as a team, and we want every student to know that we are here for them."
As it nears 9 a.m., Skillett considers the following question: What is a perfect day at BHS?
"The perfect day to me is one where I get a lot of student contact and have an opportunity to make an impact on a student and his family," he says. "I want them to feel appreciated. I also want the ability to have interaction with staff members, even if it is just popping in to say, 'Hi.'
"We have 1,500-some students and 200 or so staffers, and we know not everyone is going to have a great day. I just know that being in meetings all day is not a perfect day. I know they are responsibilities, but they don't do what I want to be doing."
And that is making an impression.