GEORGE—Teachers at George-Little Rock High School have great expectations for their students.

The school in George has a program that English and social studies teacher Brenda Sandbulte calls Great Expectations.

“For the last three years, we’ve been working with classes on what many would consider to be a nonacademic quality, but yet a life need,” she said.

The idea for what originally was called the Perseverance Project started during a faculty meeting three years ago.

“Everyone was throwing ideas out there about possible interdisciplinary projects, and the conversation turned to nonacademic subjects — perseverance, self-discipline and integrity — and Great Expectations was born,” Sandbulte said.

Freshmen learn about perseverance, sophomores are educated on self-discipline and juniors gain knowledge about integrity.

“Eventually, it’ll be collaboration when this year’s juniors are seniors next year,” Sandbulte said. “We decided not to jump in with all four classes all at once because we’re a small school and we don’t want to be stretched so thin.”

Students who are juniors for the 2019-20 academic year were the first class to take part in the Great Expectations program when it was started.

“We want kids to understand that life is about challenges and seeing it through,” Sandbulte said.

To kick off the Great Expectations program for 2019-20, freshmen had fun on Sept. 11 at Camp Foster YMCA near Spirit Lake. The ropes course was quite popular.

“Perseverance is seeing challenges through despite our own desire to run the opposite direction,” Sandbulte said. “A lot of kids said that they didn’t want to zip line, but with encouragement from their classmates, they persevered. They climbed up there, and they did it.”

For their kickoff event, sophomores and juniors participated in activities — such as geocaching and canoeing — on Sept. 20 at Lake Pahoja Recreation Area near Inwood.

Sandbulte described the Great Expectations program as a “passion project” of hers.

“I just really like the conversations,” she said. “I like the relationships that are being built between students and between students and their teachers.

"It’s about relationship-building as well because the No. 1 way to keep kids in school and to keep kids engaged is to have a relationship with them,” she said.


George-Little Rock High School in George is planning on hosting its third annual Day of Great Expectations on Friday, Dec. 13.

The event will include a panel discussion on perseverance, self-discipline and integrity with:

  • Rob Roozeboom, the founder and president of Rise Ministries of Sheldon, who was diagnosed at age 5 with a form of muscular dystrophy. He shares his story at speaking events across the country and tries to teach others how to overcome adversity through strong faith and perseverance.
  • Julie (Hollander) Ver Steeg, a 1996 George-Little Rock graduate who owns online boutiques called the Rumor Mill Boutique and The Crop in rural George.
  • Deb Remmerde-Leusink, a 2003 Rock Valley High School graduate who holds numerous Iowa high school girls basketball scoring records and later starred and coached at Northwestern College in Orange City.

“I try to find people that are from our area,” said high school English and social studies teacher Brenda Sandbulte. “These are people that our kids can relate to.”

In addition to the panel discussion, teachers will have breakout sessions with the freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

“That whole day, the kids are doing different things,” Sandbulte said. “Those workshops are again to emphasize those skills in a different way than just having us show them YouTube videos of Will Smith giving some kind of motivational speech.”