Holliday Montessori Students Get Mayor On Board

Students lead phone, letter and video campaign to get mayor to visit the school


Kansas City, March 20, 2017: Harold Holliday Montessori School students proved that persistence and hard work pay off as they spent a productive hour today engaging with Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

Mayor James illustrates the amount of paperwork that he does every day.

Mayor James visited the school after first, second and third graders inundated his office with requests during a phone and email campaign that started in early February, according to Julie Holland, James’ education advisor.

James spent about 30 minutes answering questions posed by the students in teacher Jovita Rafferty’s class. Her students led the effort to get the mayor to the school, with help from Holliday parent and community organizer Joe Toney.

“We thought it would be a great idea to get the mayor here for Black History Month,” Toney said. “It’s important for students to get the hands-on experience of getting involved and making a difference. Now they know that this kind of campaign really does work.”

Toney, who founded The Sacred Samaritan organization, facilitated student phone calls and delivered student letters to the mayor’s office. He also helped produce a video with the students asking James to visit.

Among many topics, James talked about his family, his job and why the students should consider a career in public service.

“If you think you can help make your community a better place to live, then that’s what you do,” James said. “That’s public service.”

Mayor James reads Scott Brown’s book, “Our Home, Kansas City.”

James did warn the students that being a leader often means having to spend many hours a week in meetings and dealing with a lot of paperwork.

“Let’s just say that I do a lot of paperwork. It piles up and up and up and up!” James said. “That’s why I try to do as much of it as possible electronically.”

Following his visit with Ms. Rafferty’s students, the mayor then read Scott Brown’s children’s book, “Our Home, Kansas City,” to a larger group of children in the school’s foyer.

“The moral of this story is to read every day,” James said. “Reading is absolutely important!”

Visit the Kansas City Public Schools Flickr site to view more photos of Mayor James’ visit to Holliday Montessori School.