During my Global Experience class freshman year we were given the opportunity to visit a local elementary school in Alamance County. The school that we attended was Harvey Newlin Elementary School. The school is a Title I school consisting of 99% free lunch for children located in Burlington, NC. A Title I is a school that receives funding from the US Department of Education to help meet the needs of low income and at-risk students. Maybe this elementary school was similar to yours; maybe it was entirely different. I can guarantee that you probably didn’t have a principal like Larry Conte.

On the first day that we visited the school we were lead to a conference room where we were introduced to Larry Conte. He came in with this infectious, lively personality that seemed overwhelming to a freshman education major during an 8am metting. He came in and asked me, specifically, when the last time I told my mom I loved her. Thankfully, I had told her the night before on the phone. He insisted that I call her right then and there so he could talk to her. After I dialed her number he took my phone and left a voicemail thanking her for raising me and letting me know that I was making a difference in the lives of children. This principal didn’t even know me for more than 5 seconds but he was able to see something in me because I was an education major. He informed the class that he sends letters to parents of all new teachers to let them know how thankful he is for them. Could you imagine a person who has to attend to all the needs of students, teachers, administrators, AND still takes the time to write ‘thank you’ letters to parents. Words cannot even express how in awe I am of him.

I have meet him once personally and have heard him talk publicly twice so this is probably a little creepy that I’m writing this about him, but that just shows how much of an impact he has had on my life and he doesn’t even know it.

One of the Newlins student teachers Emma Lindsay said, "Mr, Conte is a man and a principal unlike anyone I have ever met. His passion, enthusiasm, and most of all, love for each and every student creates an atmosphere where teachers love teaching and students love learning. I have been blessed to have had placements at Newlin for all four years that I have been at Elon, so I can truly contest that the school is magical. Mr. Conte has shown me what it truly means to give your students everything you have and encourage them to be anything they can be, and I know that I am a better teacher because of him and the students."

To have a student teacher say such kind words is astounding.

Larry Conte is a man that loves his school. He loves the students that he works with. Conte has said, “I have 620 academically gifted students.” He speaks so highly of his students because he wants the students to believe that of themselves. Every child needs someone to believe in them. After hearing him speak it is hard not to want to become an educator because you see how much he loves what he is doing.

As an elementary school student I would have loved to have a principal like him. A person that makes me excited to come into school everyday. A person that I know, without fail, would always be there for me. A person who will always be my biggest cheerleader when I need the most support. Truthfully, I don’t remember much about my elementary school principal and I wish we had had a closer connection just to know that I had someone looking out for me. I wish that I had a Larry Conte as a principal.

So Mr. Conte, sorry to be super creepy about writing this about you. I swear we have met but you're practically famous in the Alamance-Burlington School System so it’s understandable that you don’t remember me. I just want to thank you though. Thank you for constantly being the reinforcement that I needed in my life to see all that being an educator can give me. I aspire to have the energy, enthusiasm, optimism, and hope that you do.