To the editor,
I enjoyed your article “Saved from the chopping block,” in last week’s issue. It reminded me of an article I read years ago, in which school administrators at the time argued that if the school budget was not approved, the school would no longer be able to provide milk for children, many of whom did not have breakfast at home.
After reading your excellent article, I was struck with the similarity of the school milk argument to the potential firing of teacher Mary Kate Lonergan.
In the 2012 situation, the school budget is described as bare bones, and failure to pass the budget is likely to result in firing a teacher who must be the best, or one of the best teachers at the school.
Based on the testimonies in your article describing Lonergan, I strongly suspect that she is all she is described to be: “She assists numerous students as an academic intervention instructor, is co-advisor for student government, coaches the Mock Trial team, is a member of the school’s Student Success Team, and a faculty trainer for literacy strategies.”
Her highly-respected department leader describes her as having a “far reaching impact on students throughout the district.” He describes Lonergan as “extremely skilled as an educator, knowledgeable, organized, creative and brings exceptional enthusiasm to her job. Her colleagues, her students and their parents are all delighted that the district was able to find the resources to retain her services. Her loss [would have been] a major blow to our academic success.” She is a huge part of enabling “99 percent of our students to pass the U.S. History Regents over the past three years.”
Former students stated, “she has been the best teacher I have had so far. Her passion for teaching has really affected my learning … She gets the class very motivated and she truly makes me look forward to global studies … She has taught me not only social studies, but how to write a good essay … [She is] not only an amazing teacher with a ton of energy in the classroom, but a teacher I can trust and know that she can always help me. She goes out of her way to make time for me and my classmates, and going into [exams] I feel very confident thanks to her.”