It’s been a few years since Madison International Speedway owner / promoter Gregg McKarns was standing in front of a fifth grade classroom, but it all came back to reality this week when he visited the 5th Grade students at Waubesa Intermediate School in McFarland, Wisconsin.
McKarns and Madison International Speedway are part of the McFarland School – Business Partnership where classrooms across the district partner up with a local business. In this case the connection with the speedway was an obvious one since the teacher is John Wells, a long-time employee at the track as well as a twenty-eight year veteran in the classroom.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to speak to kids about something I love so much,” said McKarns who seemed very at home in front of the classroom.
Besides talking to the students about his involvement in racing from a very young age as well as sharing his daily responsibilities in running a race track, McKarns took time to focus on what’s really important.
“Whatever you do in life, find something that you are passionate about and do your best at whatever it is,” said McKarns. He shared some of his hopes and dreams which connected well to a recent writing activity the fifth graders completed. “Always have goals and work towards them. Make your lists of things you want to do, places you want to go, and stay focused.”
The students have been working on improving their growth mindset something that Wells reminds them of each day. This has the students working on improving their perseverance, accepting failure as part of the learning process and not fearing it and being willing to think “outside the box.”
“This is so important in life,” added McKarns. “It’s reality in the business world and especially racing. There are going to be times when things get tough and you have to keep going by sticking to your goals. You may come up short and have to start over, but always believe in yourself.”
His visit was much more than talking to the kids about the racing business. It was about seeing how what you are learning today will go much beyond the classroom. Skills like cooperation and compromise, listening to others and accepting differing opinions, organization, and keeping a positive attitude are tools for success.
In early 2017 McKarns will return to the classroom where the students will be working on a kids’ night promotion for the upcoming racing season including designing posters, activities, and writing a press release. The class of twenty-three students will also be visiting the speedway during the upcoming season.
“It was fun. Any time you can talk about something you are passionate about like racing is to me is a good day,” said McKarns.
Before leaving McKarns donated water bottles to the class along with 2016 MIS Yearbooks that the students quickly recognized their teacher as the author of many of the stories.