Campbell's® Chunky® is recognizing and celebrating everyday champions in our lives and communities for their tremendous work through the challenging times of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Today's spotlight is on Principal Jason Rivers, a true Community Champion.
Rivers has served as the principal of P.S. 165 Ida Posner School in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the last five years. When he initially walked through the doors of P.S. 165 as a first-year principal, his mission was to save the school from closing. But as he quickly realized, it did not need saving. Instead, the school and its staff just needed a boost to help the teachers once again find their passion.
P.S. 165 was classified as a consistently failing school. In fact, the New York State Education department placed it on its list of schools that may need to be closed down. When Rivers became principal, he knew he could not allow the school to close, for both the students and the Brownsville community. It was then that Rivers created a new school motto: "College is not an option, it is our next step." This was done in order to set high expectations for the students and staff, and to remind them that failure was not on the table.
Within three years of Rivers becoming principal, P.S. 165 was removed from the list of schools to be closed down and instead placed on the list of schools in good standing, where it remains today. Rivers has provided Brownsville and all of its students with the rejuvenation they needed to set them up for a brighter future. It is because of his work in the Brownsville community that Campbell's and the New York Giants have chosen to honor Rivers and his inspiring work.
To show appreciation, Giants linebacker David Mayo thanked Rivers for his efforts on a video conference call.
"On behalf of the Giants and Campbell Soup Company, we would like to honor you as a Campbell's® Chunky® Community Champion for the impact you have made on P.S. 165 and the Brownsville community," Mayo said. "Champions of Chunky® recognizes someone who has devoted their time and effort to supporting their community in extraordinary ways. Campbell's® Chunky® will be making a contribution in your name to United Way of New York City and to benefit P.S. 165.
"Plus, you will also be receiving some gear from Campbell's® Chunky® and the Giants. We know that these last few months haven't been easy. They've been very hard, and through it all, you were always there for your students and staff. Please know that you inspire all of us, and your effort does not go unnoticed."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, classes at P.S. 165 have been held virtually. Of course, this represents a tough challenge for both the staff and students. However, Rivers has not allowed the difficulty of online learning slow down the amazing work being done by him and his staff in the Brownsville community.
"Thank you, this is a surprise," Rivers said on the video conference call. "I'm sitting here like, 'Wow, I'm being thanked for something I love to do.' That's a lot because I do, I love my kids. I think it shows. I miss them. Gosh, this is a rough year. But thank you so much, I appreciate it. I really do."
As hard as he has worked, especially during this past year, Rivers would not accept sole credit for the encouraging progress seen at P.S. 165. Instead, the principal sincerely thanked his entire staff for making sure the students of Brownsville receive the best possible education, and for reminding the kids of their mission.
"Just to be recognized, it means a lot. My staff has gone above and beyond," said Rivers. "They have pushed to the limits … [on] weekends, talking to them after hours. I couldn't do this without my administration team and then my staff. Just everybody has gone above and beyond because they just love these kids. We don't want to see them fail. For us, failure is not an option for the kids. It's not."
Due to the pandemic, Rivers has truly had to step up to the plate in order to make sure that things continue to run smoothly at P.S. 165. His days consist of calling students' homes in order to ensure that they log on for class, after-hour discussions with his staff, and even weekend meetings so everyone remains on the same page with the school's upcoming plans.
Mayo and his Team of Teams, the Brooklyn Nets, have been working with Rivers since last summer and have gotten a front row seat to witness the principal's hard work and dedication to his students. Mayo noted that Rivers' commitment to enriching his students' lives and futures was an inspiration to everyone on the team.
"We got in touch with P.S. 165 and Principal Rivers and got to learn about the city of Brownsville. We really learned just the struggles that you teachers and staff and students have had during this pandemic," Mayo told Rivers on the video call. "There's nothing like it. I remember sometimes on the calls, me and my teammates felt overwhelmed. Honestly, we felt overwhelmed and just couldn't believe the things you guys were going through and just had to persevere through. Through that whole time, Principal Rivers, to us, it was so obvious the love and dedication that you have for your students. Just your dedication to enrich their lives and prepare them for the future."
Rivers' enthusiasm for doing everything in his power to benefit his students and their futures has been a true inspiration. Through his hard work and dedication to Brownsville, Principal Rivers represents what it means to be a Community Champion.