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This Valley elementary school principal has a unique way to keep up morale

“Surrounded by so many negative things over the past nine months, I just try to look for the opportunities to make people smile,” Owsley said.

PHOENIX — Whether it’s bouncing around a playground in an inflatable bubble, or rolling through campus in a mobile desk, Black Mountain Elementary Principal Matt Owsley knows how to get his students’ attention.

Owsley has been producing videos for Black Mountain Elementary for years.  

Some goofy, some touching, all keep the students and staff entertained.

“Anybody who works with me knows that sometimes I come up with some pretty crazy ideas.” Owsley laughed.

The latest video has garnered the most views, as Owsley dons an inflatable bubble, or body bumper, and bounces around his school, interacting with the kids in a delightful way.

“Really, it started with all of the craziness that’s going around with COVID,” Owsley explained. “We’re doing so many things to mitigate the issues that we are coming up with.  So, what I thought was, the only other thing we could do is wrap ourselves in bubbles. So, that was the spark from where that come from.”

Set to “Get Back Up Again," from the soundtrack to the motion picture “Trolls," Owsley spends the majority of the nearly 3-minute video letting students push him around and knock him over.  

There is also a good portion of Owsley showing of his body bumper dance moves.

“Surrounded by so many negative things over the past nine months, I just try to look for the opportunities to make people smile,” Owsley said. “Try to look for the opportunities to bring people together and to refocus them on what’s important and a lot of times that’s smiling and enjoying the time that we have together.”

While some videos are meant to put a smile on his kids’ faces, like when he reenacted a scene from “Annie”, dressed in full Annie costume, other times the videos are a bridge when the coronavirus causes the students to miss out.

It’s a tradition at Black Mountain Elementary School for sixth graders to take a final walk around campus before school lets out in the summer. During normal times, teachers and students line up outside their classrooms to cheer the sixth graders and offer hugs. This year, things were a bit different.

“I don’t think anything is going to replace having the kids physically there and being able to see them and experience those things together but we’re going to try our best through all of it, including the end of the year.” Owsley said.

Owsley created a point-of-view video of a student walking through campus, while encouraging messages from teachers were edited in.  The video gave the kids who missed the tradition a way to experience what students before them experienced.

From using Bobcat puppets- the school’s mascot-  to explain student pick up procedures to parents, to a video on the lost and found area at the school, humor plays in important role in Principal Owsley’s videos to the kids.

Owsley is quick to put everything in perspective, though. While the videos are fun, they are the easy part, he says. 

“The actual work that’s going on behind the scenes is really the tough, important work, that should get mentioned.  It is the amazing work that is going on by teachers in not just my district, but across Arizona: they’re rocking it!”

Fear not, Black Mountain students: Owsley has some more surprises up his sleeve for you before winter break. We’re not going to give it away here but trust us: You’ll like it!