One Word of Mouth caller, the parent of a Mendenhall River Elementary School first-grader, claims to "spend hundreds of hours at a local elementary school, but rarely sees teachers working." The anonymous caller also claims to know the average salary of "well-compensated' teachers in Alaska. Unlike the unidentified caller, my husband and I are not experts on the contracts or salaries of Alaskan teachers. However, having nine children ranging in age from 2 to 24, we have spent some time in Juneau schools and have had an experience entirely different from the nameless caller.
The caller correctly stated that students leave the elementary classrooms for gym, music, lunch, recess, computer lab and counseling. However, for the caller to suggest that the teachers do nothing while the children are attending these activities leads me to question how much time the caller really spends at MRCS. Our children, for instance, have received one-on-one instruction from their teachers during this time. These teachers have also been available to our family before and after school, during lunch, the evenings and even weekends.
Five of our children have individualized education programs. Some are gifted and talented, some learning and developmentally disabled. The paperwork and team meetings associated with the Timothy family IEP's alone leaves teachers little time to twiddle their thumbs. Though we could name dozens of extraordinary teachers, administrators and staff throughout the Juneau School District, we will focus on the teachers at MRCS, the school with which the caller takes issue. We have nothing but respect for, and will be eternally grateful for MRCS teachers Jan McPheters, Diane Desloover, Terri Dilts, Katherine LaPlaunt, Rosary Lombardo, Carol Fujioka, Richard Fagnant, Geoffrey Wyatt, Scott May, Carol Burrows and Principal Diana Gifford. These teachers have positively impacted the Timothy family by committing generous amounts of time for which they will never be monetarily compensated. We don't know how much these teachers are paid, but would find it difficult to place a value on the priceless education these teachers have provided our children (and us). We appreciate their words of encouragement, their caring and concern, and their willingness to help us find the most effective way to teach each individual child. We want to publicly thank these teachers for all they do for our family.
Jackie and Gary Timothy
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