Jefferson Students Get History Lesson from Governor

Governor Terry Branstad visited 4th grade students at Jefferson Elementary School to talk about Iowa history and government.

Fourth graders at Jefferson Elementary School have been studying Iowa history and government this semester and this morning they had a crack at a real expert, what educators would consider a primary source, in the flesh.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad paid them a personal visit and fielded questions that amounted to a trip around the world (and back quite a ways in time) in less than an hour.

It all came about when student Marcus Stutz reported on the goings-on at school to his parents. Turns out he has an aunt that works on the governor’s staff. One thing led to another and whaddaya know, Jefferson was contacted to see if they might be interested in having the governor drop by for a visit. And judging by the patch of hands that sprouted up as soon as Governor Branstad threw it open for Q&A, yes they certainly were!

  • What does he like most about his job? All the interesting people he gets to meet. “When the leader of the most populous country in the world refers to you as an old friend, that’s pretty neat.”
  • Ever met a U.S. president? “I’ve personally met every American president going all the way back to Richard Nixon.”
  • What’s it like to live at Terrace Hill? “We live on the 3rd floor so it’s kind of like living in an attic.”
  • Where are the best places to visit in Iowa? “How many of you have been to the Iowa State Fair? There’s no place anywhere that’s better than the Iowa State Fair.”
  • Hardest part of the job? “All the time you have to spend signing documents. Sometimes I even have to sign things in the car and if we go over a bump the signature doesn’t look very good.”

On and on they volleyed. The governor recalled meetings with popes, presidents and potentates around the globe and told stories like the one about the time he and his family spent Christmas Eve in Salzburg, Austria listening to Silent Night, the place where that iconic carol was composed and premiered way back in 1818. He said there’s a big Halloween party scheduled at Terrace Hill next week called “Scare Us Hill” where he and his family plan to dress up as the Ghostbusters. He didn’t say the place is haunted, but he didn’t say it isn’t either.

So many questions, so little time in a governor’s busy schedule. If he could have stayed Governor Branstad would probably still be there. But as any good teacher could tell him, it’s not a bad thing when the bell rings and there are still hands in the air. As it was, Jefferson Principal Mary Minard suggested that perhaps the 4th graders might like to plan a return visit field trip to Terrace Hill. That proposal was approved by acclamation.

To be continued?

Photos of Governor Branstad’s Visit to Jefferson

DMPS-TV Story on Governor’s Visit to Jefferson

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