It isn’t unusual for St. Joseph principal Sara Myers to pop into the elementary classrooms unexpectedly. So why was there such an uproar when Mrs. Myers did so last week?

Maybe it had to do with her red feathers.

St. Joseph pastor Fr. Chris Ankley brought one of his hens to visit the children, the one bearing Mrs. Myers’ name.

Mrs. Myers, the chicken

“I’ve had the chickens for a couple of months now, and it was just the right time,” Fr. Chris said. “On a whim, I brought Mrs. Myers over.”

“The kids in the office literally lept from their seats and wanted to pet it, but it was wrapped in a towel for safekeeping,” St. Joseph administrative assistant Jeanine Winkler said. “I could hear the squeals of excitement as she met the preschool students.”

Mrs. Myers, the person, was at St. Philip High School donating blood, but heard all about it.

“Some of the first-graders came up to me and said, ‘We saw Mrs. Myers the other day, Mrs. Myers,’” Mrs. Myers said. “When I said, ‘What?’, they said, ‘The chicken!’”

Mrs. Myers isn’t the only staff member so honored. Father named one of his hens Ms. Reed in honor of assistant-principal Katie Reed.

“I’m not very creative,” Fr. Chris said, who had chickens at his last parish, also named after staff. “I just go for the people around me.”

This isn’t the first time our veterinarian pastor has brought an animal friend to the school. He often visits with his dog Edward and, before Palm Sunday this year, he came to school with Paul the Donkey.

Fr. Chris and Edward visit the preschool. [Photo by John Grap; courtesy of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.]

Fr. Chris and the Paul the Donkey came to the school before Palm Sunday.

What Fr. Chris didn’t know, was Mrs. Myers isn’t a stranger to hosting feathered friends at school. She once kissed a duck, dressed as a duck.

During the 2015 Jump Rope for the Heart fundraiser, Mrs. Myers agreed to wear a duck suit all day if the children reached a certain number of donations. The children made the goal within a week, so Mrs. Myers raised the bar to include kissing a duck.

Mrs. Myers dressed as a duck, kissing a duck,

“The duck was very beautiful,” Mrs. Myers said. “The kids went crazy when I kissed him. He was very warm, just sitting there like he had gone through it before.”

As for the duck suit?

“It was actually quite comfortable, like pajamas with feet,” Mrs. Myers said.

Mrs. Myers wearing her duck suit.

“She’s such a great sport,” Mrs. Winkler said, recounting times when students covered Mrs. Myers in silly-string or challenged her to guess the flavors of “icky” jelly beans. “She’s does anything for student support.”

There is a reason Mrs. Myers is willing to be a good sport. She doesn’t want students to think of a principal as only a disciplinarian.

“Some parts of my job have to deal with discipline, but I want kids to know I can be silly and I can have fun,” Mrs. Myers said. “I love all these kids to pieces. I want to do fun things with them and make some good memories with them.”

Mrs. Myers, the person

As far as having a feathery namesake, this animal-loving principal considers it fate.

“My brother and sister and I would spend our summers in the UP on our grandparents’ farm,” Mrs. Myers said. “I was responsible for feeding the baby chickens in the coop and collecting the eggs. And now I’m back around chickens again.”

Mrs. Myers, the person, finally meets Mrs. Myers, the chicken.

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Questions? Call Cathy Erskine at 269.963.1131