Gov. Sam Brownback was in Lawrence Friday to address the 36th annual class of Leadership Kansas, a program of the Kansas Chamber that prepares selected young adults to be leaders in business and government.
But he also managed to avoid the roughly dozen or so teachers who had gathered to greet him outside the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St. He entered and exited the center from the alley behind the building instead of in front, where half of New Hampshire Street remains closed because of construction.
Addressing the leadership class, as well as the dozens of alumni of the program who attended, Brownback spoke about the importance of having role models and mentors, recalling one of his own mentors, Roy Cook, from near Brownback's hometown in Linn County. Cook advised Brownback to keep his promise not to seek more than two terms in the U.S. Senate.
“If a man breaks his word, it breaks the man,” Brownback recalled Cook saying.
He also spoke of the importance of resting and enjoying each moment, recalling a passage by St. Augustine: “There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise.”
“I think the best thing often we can do in busy lives is rest,” he said. “Rest right where you are and see what's going on right around you.”
Outside the auditorium, teachers clad in red T-shirts had gathered hoping to confront the governor before the appearance, something that has become common wherever Brownback has gone since he signed a school finance bill that repeals teacher tenure rights.
“If you support teachers, you support children of Kansas, and he is not supporting Kansas kids at this point,” said Lori Greenfield, a fourth-grade teacher at Prairie Park School in Lawrence.