On Thursday night, the board began it’s meeting by honoring the coaches and players of the Huntsville High Baseball team for their state championship. It was an honor well deserved. While doing this, Dr. Wardynski stated that honoring these achievements reminds us of excellence, and “excellence calls us to our better angels.”
He’s correct. Seeing excellence in our community does call us to our better angels, and it’s important to recognize it when we see it.
I saw excellence in the form of two dedicated teachers who took time out of their busy summer schedules to celebrate my son’s birthday on Saturday.
(To all those wonderful families who also joined us in celebration at Pump-It-Up on Saturday, thanks for loving our boy and accepting him for who he is. Even though I’m not singling you and your children out this time, each of you made the party wonderful for a kid who sometimes has difficultly playing with others. We love and appreciate each one of you.)
These two examples of excellence are Mrs. Susan Cooley and Mrs. Terri Klinkhammer.
Mrs. Susan Cooley was the boy’s substitute teacher for the second half of the year last year. She came into his classroom halfway through the year when Mrs. Bowling had to be out with a complicated pregnancy.
She was his sub.
But because she is a dedicated teacher, she went out of her way to learn and love each of the boys in her special needs classroom. Wanting to see her student, she re-worked her schedule at the last minute so that she could attend and cheer for the boy as he played with his friends.
Mrs. Terri Klinkhammer was one of the boy’s aides. Because of the disruption that my son’s class experienced this past year, the much of the burden of his education fell to his the aides working in his classroom. Mrs. Klinkhammer was one of those who helped to shoulder that burden. She, along with Mrs. Kim Collins, brought my boy out of his shell, taught him to interact with his friends and learn to operate independently in a new setting. Without their dedication and excellence, my son’s kindergarten year would have been wasted.
She was his aide.
Their presence made my son’s day. He sought them both out, made eye contact, flirted, gave high-fives and big hugs to his two teachers who made time to celebrate his big day.
This is why I love teachers: they aren’t teachers when or because they get paid to teach. They aren’t teachers because they get paid a huge salary. They are teachers because they love students and education. And they need our support.
Miss Susan, Miss Terri, and Miss Kim are all are currently without positions for next year.
And yet each of them remain committed to caring for and loving my son.
To Miss Susan, Miss Terri, and Miss Kim: Thank you for being excellent teachers and for all your hard work with my boy. He loves you all. And so does his family. Y’all are truly special.
These three teachers are among the 420 employees laid off by Dr. Richardson when he was collecting $41,687 for his four months of work with the system. While I don’t know exactly how much they made, Richardson’s four month salary would have easily covered their salaries for another year.
If we’re going to honor excellence, Dr. Wardynski, we need to start by keeping the excellent teachers and aides who were unceremoniously fired last year. We need to start by putting an end to the hiring of consultants to produce shoddy work at exorbitant prices as we did with Dr. Salmon and Dr. Wilson. We need to start by following the system’s hiring policies in hiring assistants to the Superintendent, like Mr. Aaron King from Mississippi, at a rate of $59,211 a year. We need to start by not paying Dr. Moore $99,000 to stay at home for the rest of the year.
Mr. King is costing us six dedicated and excellent aides. Dr. Moore is costing us three dedicated and excellent teachers. Your salary, itself $55,000 above the minimum, is costing us at least five aides or two teachers.
You claim to support excellence. It’s time to back up that claim with actions. So far, with the addition of Mr. King and the continued employment of Dr. Moore, your misguided actions are screaming much louder than your words.
Dr. Wardynski, you were sold to the community as a leader who would bring a difference perspective to the table. So far it seems that you’re following the same patterns as before. We won’t be fooled again.