Melissas Kenneth Wooten Online TFATOC

2023 — NSDA Campus, TX/US

Welcome to Melissa's Kenneth Wooten Online TFA/TOC bid tournament! On behalf of Brenden Dimmig and Kyle Brenner, we are excited to host you for a second year in a row! Please see the "University of Kentucky TOC Bid Information". Before looking on the right-hand pages, please take the time to read about the background regarding the tournament's name.

Why is the tournament named after Kenneth Wooten?

After this synopsis, I hope the reader has a better glimpse into who Mr. Kenneth Wooten is.

Kenneth was an offensive coordinator and head softball coach who embodies process. Kenneth's processural nature helped lead and guide the transformation of various high schools: Rice Consolidated, Brownsboro, Nolan, and Van. Through his time being a history teacher, physical education instructor, and health educator, his deep administrative and pedagogical experience helped mold teachers such as myself. Moreover, his construction of the speech and debate team at MISD more than warrants this tournament being name after in his honor.

During my three years working full-time for my principal, Kenneth Wooten, and two separate years working as a part time assistant coach for Kenneth, stead-fast support is one of many emblematic characteristics of our now district Executive Director of Campus Development. Kenneth isn’t just supportive of speech & debate, but knowledgeable about the activity’s nuances. For administrators who haven’t participated at the high school or college level, this is a rarity. For example, as I sat down with him discussing this tournament’s significance, he already knew. This is illustrative of his continued learning that he constantly encouraged his staff members to operationalize.

During COVID, Kenneth had stead-fast support for the program. While the program had a low number of participants, Kenneth still made sure that the classes were equitable insofar as competition is concerned. This allowed the MISD’s Speech & Debate program to grow in the last three short years. After two years, MISD Speech & Debate was lucky to double the number of classes at the high school and create a middle school program. Middle School programs are rarities in the nation, and Kenneth participated in that national rarity. While many administrators flinch at expanding debate classes, Kenneth sprinted with the opportunity. In fact, MISD is a part of a small educational conglomerate where teachers only teach debate classes. This was spurred by Kenneth taking the mantle to materialize the endeavor.

As an administrator, Kenneth continually made sure that Speech & Debate was well funded. Through direct financial avenues or through fundraising opportunities via hosting more tournaments, Kenneth always made sure his team had the financial resources necessary to function. Mr. Wooten’s support for Speech & Debate is quintessential of his support for programs writ large at MISD. Kenneth was even a credit card or schedule run away (a poor inside joke, that I hope, is taken well).

Grace, love, and compassion isn’t just a mantra, but a guiding philosophy for Kenneth. Learning moments with Kenneth were guided by these three values. He imparted knowledge about the power zone necessary to help staff members become better teachers. His guiding principles about the Core-5 clearly spilled down to teachers across the high school to make them better educators.

Moreover, Melissa High School isn’t a home for just students, but also teachers. Homemaking entails providing teachers necessary support through their intrinsic and personal struggles. Kenneth, through his administrative prowess and empathy, created a space that staff members could home-make with him. Homemaking entails craving the success of others, and that core value is something Kenneth continually showed, and continues to show, for Speech & Debate at MISD.

Homemaking often entails difficult disquisitions necessary for growth. Difficult conversations were never obviated or ignored by Kenneth. While never accusatory or berating of staff members, Kenneth instead always parsed through difficult situations with his staff. Instead of reprimanding staff members, Kenneth rather provided opportunities for personal and professional growth. Difficult questions with Kenneth were never necessarily difficult emotionally or professionally because he believed in his staff: a characteristic many debate coaches need more of.

Homemaking also entails running the house in a healthy manner. Running is both metaphorical and literal in describing Kenneth’s actions. He encouraged staff to become healthier versions of themselves through whatever means necessary. Through informal temperature tests, many debate colleagues have been encouraged to stay at the school during their conference periods. Kenneth supported teachers by encouraging them to use conference periods to, for example, run. I can only speak for myself in saying running during my conference period helped me be a better teacher by keeping me mentally grounded. Kenneth encouraged healthy avenues and outlets for his staff via their conference period(s), a token to be grateful for.

Homemaking additionally entails being there for staff members when going through tumultuous emotional periods. Kenneth’s office was always open for periods to discuss these items. Approval of time off when going through unpredictable familial stress is something Kenneth always acted on. Time off during these periods provides emotional stability for when we come back to our second home, the school.

Homemaking is processural. This means that we, as debate coaches, continually re-make our second home to provide a better, contemporary space for students. While some administrators maintain the status quo, Kenneth sees opportunities for future growth. Kenneth cultivated leaders like Kyle Brenner, Emily Chapman, and Marcus Eckert to generate necessary changes, who came to the drawing board last March and helped cultivate pragmatic adjustments the program needed. This tournament is one of the many positive changes precipitated due to Kenneth’s leadership prowess.

This tournament was part and parcel of the homemaking process Kenneth envisioned for the community. Last year, when we launched the online tournament, there was never hesitation by Kenneth. The large quantity of financial items Kenneth had to sign off on physically and intellectually made the tournament work. Even through small complications, Kenneth made sure that the tournament was successful. Kenneth not only believed in speech and debate's liberatory potential, but his staff members' potential for substantive change. This is homemaking.

Melissa High & Melissa Middle School Speech & Debate are in a healthier position uniquely because of the quiet, staunch, but fervent support Kenneth provided. This tournament certainty wouldn’t have happened without Kenneth. So, to Kenneth Wooten, thank you for your continued support not just to the district, but to the Speech & Debate Community. Moreover, on behalf of the Speech & Debate community collectively, thank you, Mr. Kenneth Wooten. Melissa Speech & Debate are in a better place because of his leadership. More importantly, his staff are in a better, healthier, more viable space because of his personalized support.

Thus, on behalf of Melissa Independent School District, we welcome you to Melissa's Kenneth Wooten Online TOC/TFA. MHS Speech & Debate hopes this is a healthy competitive avenue towards the TOC that Kenneth envisions for the community.

Interested judges should apply here: