To the editor:
Having taught in Regional School District 13 for over 18 years, I am very pleased to share my thoughts on the importance of keeping Latin as a full-time course offering.
At Strong school, I frequently had the opportunity to cover foreign language classes as teachers attended parent meetings. This is what I observed: students in Latin class were focused, involved in authentic learning, challenged, interested in their own education, happy, and to use the latest buzz word in teaching: engaged. Their growth was focused on the love of learning about history, language and culture, yet it also enhanced everything else they did in middle school, including standardized testing. This is complementary to the lifelong skills they developed: appreciation of the classics, critical thinking, inquiry, social awareness and global understanding.
If you are very, very, lucky, at some point in your career, you will have the opportunity to work with a person like Katy Reddick. If you are a parent, and you are very, very, lucky, your child will have the opportunity to have a teacher like Katy. Why? Because she knows her subject matter, and she teaches it with a passion and a dedication that is unparalleled. Her classroom is a template for what is best in education: flexible grouping, integration of technology, consideration of the whole child and an unwillingness to give up on any student. This Latin program, and the teachers behind it, represent the very best in education.
You know how you combat declining enrollment? You are offer the best education possible. I respectfully suggest that our district keep the Latin program intact on a full-time basis for students at Strong Middle School and Coginchaug Regional High School.
I attended and spoke at the recent BoE meeting. And while many on the board seemed to be questioning the decision of making cuts to ABA, I got the sense that our point was still missed.
We were again told that the proposed cuts to ABA will not have any effect on our ABA children, as what the schools are federally mandated to provide was in the IEP.
Yes, the second part of that statement is true. However, the reason Durham has a great Special Education program is not because of its ability to provide what is mandated, like every other school district, it’s because of the quality of care provided by the staff!
Our ABA staff make this program what it is. They're the reason it's successful. To say making these pay cuts and forcing our staff to leave the district won't affect our children is complete nonsense. There are plenty of districts with sub-par ABA staff, and are known to have bad Special Education programs. We don't want to be them, and we sure don't want that for our children.
The fact is, causing our qualified ABA staff to leave will likely cause the out-placement of some of our children. As I stated before, out-placements costs can range from $75,000 to $150,000 per-year, per-child. The district is responsible for those costs.
This year, the budget is already $280,000 over budget in out-placement costs. I would think common sense would tell us we should be making it a priority to do everything we can to keep these kids in-district, to continue to provide them the quality of care they need and deserve. These cuts are not going to do that.
Last month our community lost one its finest people. Sadly, Mark Gribko of Middlefield passed away from this world for reasons beyond our reach.
Mark was not your ordinary Joe. His selfless service to friends, neighbors and our community started early and continued unabated all his life.
His numerous friends told of him being the nicest guy they ever knew.
But being nice wasn’t enough for Mark. He wanted to do things. Little things, big things, community things. He saw the Middlefield Lions as a way of accomplishing just that – helping people, and tackling needed projects.
He joined the struggling club in 2007 and became president soon after. His dedication was infectious. His energy and sense of purpose helped bring in new members and further motivate those already on board.
The club rebounded.
Mark had an eye for community needs and many “go to” friends and neighbors that knew the issues – where to go, what to do, who to call.
As an individual, Mark took on numerous community-serving roles and projects. As a Lion, he took on many more projects, but also fundraising – the milk that makes Lion initiatives happen.
Mark’s personal jewel in that regard was mini-donuts at the Lions Durham Fair booth.
Mark handled this tedious operation year after year, bringing in significant proceeds. Funds that went to many Lions scholarships and charitable donations.
The Middlefield Lions have lost a MVP.
The remarkable turnout for Mark’s funeral and reception revealed how dear he was to so many.
For quite awhile there’ll be a hole in the heart of Middlefield and Durham.
But in the meantime, hopefully each of us can kick our gear up a little – for Mark.
Reach out and join a club, help a stranger, lift the needy, right a wrong, forgive and forget, love all people, make something better – like Mark would do.
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