Mon, Dec. 09

Letter: I'm not criticizing all Mingus teachers


I am writing in response to Kristi Maxwell's letter titled "Mingus teachers deserve better." I want to thank her for writing it and sharing her points of view. While I don't necessarily agree with all her opinions, I do respect them and I agree with her on a few points. I also want to say that I applaud her passion and support of the teachers she knows at Mingus.

First, let me say that the content of my editorial was written based on my observations as an open/closed campus committee member, which Kristi Maxwell was not a part of. While she and others are free to formulate her opinions based on the content of my editorial, she really was not privileged to the inner workings of the group, its dynamics or private e-mails and conversations. Without this, she is making some incorrect assumptions, one being that I am attacking all the teachers at Mingus.

My editorial was written after the conclusion of our final open/closed campus committee meeting and it outlined my concerns, the biggest being some very worrisome statements made by Mingus faculty members who served on the committee. I did not make those statements, I simply wrote about what those specific faculty members said. The only fallacy in logic would be to shrug off and ignore the actual statements they made and assume that their statements were taken out of context. Is it logical to assume that every teacher at Mingus has nothing but the absolute best in mind for their students?

Could it be, that maybe, just maybe, there are some teachers at Mingus. or any school for that matter, that have forgotten why they made the choice to become educators? Is it possible that there are some teachers who no longer have the interests of the students first in mind?

Let me give you just one example of two educators at Mingus who have lost their focus. While this is not a safety related issue, it does demonstrate that there are some educators at Mingus that think more of themselves than the students they are teaching. Mingus has a program that honors students who have shown outstanding improvement. These students are nominated by school staff and it's called Mobile Marauders. The Mobile Marauder traveling van delivers prizes, certificates, grades and attendance records to each winning student's home and it's a wonderful way to recognize their extra effort. As a business person, I asked the school if they would like to have a free ad placed in the Verde Independent, with the pictures of the students who were recognized. The school responded with a big yes, and approved the ad layout. All that needed to be done was to have a teacher take the students' pictures and e-mail them to the newspaper along with their names. The advertisement was placed in the paper and I paid the bill.

The Mobile Marauders ad to recognize the students was working well for a few months but suddenly the newspaper stopped getting the pictures. Long story short, when we inquired about what was happening, I was told by an administrator that "the teacher felt that it was too time consuming to e-mail the paper." I and the newspaper representative were dumbfounded at the teacher's response, and worse yet, the lack of the administrator to become involved.

How difficult was it to take the pictures of five students and e-mail them to the newspaper? A few minutes of work once a month to give these students an extra pat on the back and some recognition was considered difficult. Again while this is not a safety issue, it easily could have been, and is just one example of two educators at Mingus who were not working in the best interest of the students.

I believe the majority of educators at Mingus are committed to excellence but there are some who have demonstrated otherwise. It would be easy to assume this is an isolated incident but I know of many other examples where teachers at Mingus did not have the students' best interests first in mind.

While Kristi Maxwell suggested that I check my facts, let me inform her of a few things. I'm guessing that she is probably not aware that I do support the school. I take the time to be involved, I attend school board meetings, sit on two other committees, and have made numerous donations to the school from FFA support, Red Dot Sponsorship, paid for school banners, funded Marauder logo shirts for dress code violators, sponsored students who need additional funds to attend field trips, and supplied Wal-Mart gift cards for students who needed clothing to attend school. Most of the time, I was rarely ever thanked for these things, and I don't even have a child in the school system, yet I have done this because I support education.

Kristi Maxwell accused me of having my own agenda, and that's OK because I do! I have made this public knowledge through multiple editorials in the past. To recap some of them, I want the students today to have every advantage they can to succeed in today's ever-changing world so they are not just productive in society, but leaders in the future. I want Cottonwood and the Verde Valley to be known for the educational opportunities we create for students, so much so, that were considered the best place in the country to educate and raise a child where we set the standard that all other schools are measured by, and I want our students today to be educated in a safe comfortable environment by educators who put the students first.

I have had the pleasure to meet some exceptional teachers that do set the standard in educational excellence but I also have personally experienced some Mingus educators that lost the fire and passion long ago and have compromised their students' education opportunities and possibly their safety.

I don't profess to fully understand every unique challenge that educators are faced with but instead of sitting on the sidelines complaining, I get involved and when I see something that concerns me. In this case it should be alarming when faculty makes statements as I wrote about in the Jan. 27 issue of the Verde Independent. To confuse this or make assumptions that it is an attack on educators at the school is incorrect.

We need more people like Kristi Maxwell who are willing to share their passion for the school but in this particular case she is making few wrong assumptions.

Mark Miskiel


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