Former U.S. skating champion and Olympic medallist Michelle Kwan visited sixth-grade students at Holliman Elementary School last Tuesday.
Kwan shared her story with students, relating the hard work and dedication that it takes to be an Olympic skater with the challenges required to achieve success in school. She also highlighted the importance of reading by sharing passages from a school library book on fitness.
School nurse Helen Bradshaw coordinated Kwan’s visit. Bradshaw said that she felt honored to have such an extraordinary visitor at the school.
“She is an exemplary role model and a natural teacher, who connected with students on a personal level. Rhode Island is lucky to have her in our state!” she said.
Kwan concluded her visit by fielding questions from students. Questions ranged from “What did you do to keep yourself calm before a big competition?” to “Did you ever feel like quitting?” With each response, Kwan helped students make connections to their own experiences. She also emphasized the power of hard work, dedication, and planning – relating those actions and qualities to her experiences as she worked to earn her Master’s degree.
Holliman sixth-graders had many positive things to say about the experience.
Brandon Smith said, “Ms. Kwan made good points about staying fit. I found her stories about skating interesting.”
Taige Socha felt that “it was cool to meet someone who had been in the Olympics.”
Alex Higgins said that she was “happy that Ms. Kwan took time out of her busy schedule to spend time with us.”
Kwan certainly is a busy person. She recently took on a new role as senior advisor and envoy for the U.S. Department of State. Just as she has done for years to benefit national and international organizations, Kwan now spends time assisting Rhode Island community organizations.
Holliman Principal Joseph Coffey said he was impressed with Kwan’s unassuming nature.
“Ms. Kwan is personable and kind. She did a great job communicating with our students,” he said. “She emphasized the importance of reading, exercising, and working hard to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. I believe she made quite an impression on our sixth-graders.”