Flatts presented with Maple Leaf Medallion

Claudia Loucks
Southwest Elementary School Principal Brian Hofer, at right, presented Steve and Linda Flatt with a Maple Leaf Medallion for their support of the “Teach, Learn and Care” philosophy in the Geneseo School District. Each year, with the exception of the last two “years of the pandemic,” the Flatt’s have invited third graders from Southwest School to experience “Pioneer Days” at their Geneseo home.

The field trip was planned by Southwest third grade teachers Michelle Craig, Shawn King, and Kate Witherspoon to offer their students a peek at what life was like at the turn of the century. In addition to the trip to the Steve and Linda Flatt home, the “lesson” included a showing of the movie “Little House on the Prairie.”

Students and teachers were dressed in “pioneer” clothing for their outing.

The Flatt couple transformed the interior and exterior of their home into an “earlier time,” and the third graders were able to take part in living like pioneers and spent time visiting different stations where they participated in activities that included spinning and carding wool, making music on homemade instruments, churning butter and cooking on a wood stove, school room using slates, kneading bread and grinding wheat, churning ice cream and then tasting, laundry using wash boards, games, hair braiding, shaving, gardening, quilting, broom making and games.

According to the three teachers, the students learned what it was like to work in a pioneer kitchen and thoroughly enjoyed pretending to make baked goods and pumping water from a hand pump.

“After completing a mini-unit on Pioneers and the Westward Expansion, students were able to experience life as a pioneer,” Michelle Craig said.

The activity was funded by Steve and Linda Flatt.

“This project would not be possible without the cooperation of Steve and Linda Flatt, the help of community volunteers and parents of students” Craig said.

Craig explained this year after the students visited the Flatt home, they brainstormed ideas of how Steve and Linda Flatt support the district’s philosophy of Teach, Learn and Care.”…”That generated a lot of ideas and we filled in an application for the Maple Leaf Medallion with all 52 students who were present.”

She said a favorite part of the philosophy for the third graders was the “Care” portion and Craig shared quotes from students about Steve and Linda Flatt that included, “They are kind-hearted.” “They taught us things we didn’t know and let us touch things from the pioneer days.” “They let us come even though the weather was rainy.”

The Maple Leaf Medallion was introduced in the Geneseo School District when Dr. Adam Brumbaugh was named Superintendent of Geneseo Schools.

He explained the Maple Leaf Medallion is awarded to deserving individuals, both students and staff, who demonstrate ‘Teach-Learn-Care’ of the highest order in the classroom, on the court, or in the community.

Community members also are eligible for the award.

Nominations forms are available at the Geneseo School District website, or by contacting the superintendent’s secretary, Jill Hamer, at the District Unit Office, 309-945-0450.

When I first learned about the Maple Leaf Medallion and asked the superintendent about it, he said, “If you’ve ever in the military or worked for the Defense Department, you know what a challenge coin is. They’ve been an American military tradition for a century, meant to instill unit pride, improve esprit de corps and reward hard work and excellence.”

“The coins represent anything from a small unit to the offices of top leaders, such as Defense Secretary,” he said. “There are also coins made for special events, anniversaries and even nonmilitary leaders. Many service members and veterans proudly display challenge coins at their desks or homes, showing off the many missions they've been on, the top leaders they’ve met and the units for which they’ve worked.”