Past principal pens book

Proceeds to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Robert Kinsella was the principal of Minoa Elementary School from 1966 to 1984. During his 22-year tenure, he eagerly listened to countless stories about children told by their moms and dads and cherished every one. Now, the former head of the school has a story to share with others. Kinsella and college professor Janine DeBaise co-authored a book about their own school experiences; one from the perspective of an administrator, the other from a student's point of view. The book is titled "Both Sides of the Desk -- A Look Inside an Elementary School." Proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

"I didn't start out to write a book," Kinsella said. "I loved stories about children and urged parents and teachers to share their stories with me."

Kinsella said the exchanges were a great way to better know parents and gave shy ones a reason to visit him. Sharing stories also enabled him the chance to talk to teachers in a fun, relaxed manner.

"I recorded all these stories, jotting them on slips of paper and shoving them into a manila envelope," he said. "I was always telling stories -- at meetings, to other teachers, to parents and pretty much to anyone who would listen."

Kinsella shared the following story as an example:

A speech teacher was teaching the "th" sound and the children were having a difficult time understanding it. To help them, she put it into the question, "I'm not fat, I'm th__." A little boy looked at her and said, "I think you're fat."

"Good teachers always see the humor in kids and enjoy the little things that children do even if it is embarrassing," Kinsella said.

In 1983, Kinsella hired DeBaise, the 1979 East Syracuse-Minoa valedictorian, as a part time computer teacher at her alma mater. She now teaches college-level writing and literature. In the years between, however, they stayed in touch.

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