Thank you

Posted: Friday, July 08, 2005

... to Mary Borthwick

The end of this school year marked the end of a very important period for education in Juneau. With the retirement of Mary Borthwick, a math teacher at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, so goes an entire method of teaching.

I had the great fortune of being in her classes for two years and being under her mentorship for three years. I was afforded this privilege because of her dedication to the MATHCOUNTS program, which became the most important extracurricular activity I've ever participated in.

Mrs. Borthwick was different from all my other teachers in that she demanded not necessarily the best, but the best you had. Woe to the student who didn't turn in a homework assignment or who forgot to study, but the rewards for doing these things went far beyond a grade. Her template for homework taught me about far more than mathematical concepts; it made me think through problems and show my work on paper in an organized fashion. Her classes kept us all on our toes; there was no being unprepared.

This type of education is nowadays lost on many of our teachers. The idea that students need constructive criticism to grow is frowned upon by bleeding-heart parents who refuse to shake the perfect little world they have built for their children, in which they are never criticized and in which their actions (or lack thereof) have no consequences. I fear that this method of teaching children will become completely prevalent, and the risk is producing a generation of people who can't think for themselves or take responsibility for their own actions.

Beyond the classroom, Mrs. Borthwick gave students the opportunity to compete in MATHCOUNTS, a national math competition. Through this, she gave me the opportunity to travel to Anchorage and Fairbanks for state competitions, and Chicago for the national competition. Without her dedication and attention that she gave to my learning, I never would have had this chance.

So raise your proverbial glasses to Mary Borthwick, a teacher in the purest sense of the word, and take time to realize how lucky we were to have a teacher whose sole aim was to promote the desire to gain knowledge, a teacher who gave me and countless other students the confidence and knowledge to achieve our goals.

Logan Spencer


... to Kake

Recently a group of terminally ill young men came to Alaska, as reported by Brandon Loomis in the June 19 paper.

We are the Alaskan, not Wyoming as reported, business owners that provided the boats and other donations for these young men to come to Alaska. We would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to Kake, Alaska, for providing these young men an adventure of a lifetime that will live in their hearts forever.

We thank the Empire for sending a reporter to do the story, however we would like to give more thanks to the individuals, businesses and others that provided these young men a real Alaskan welcome.

The village of Kake opened their arms and hearts. Mike Jackson organized a great welcome for the young men. The Kake tribal dancers in traditional regalia shared wonderful songs and dances.

Thank you also Kee Kwan lodge, Paulette Jackson and Organized Village of Kake, for making a most comfortable stay and providing some of the meals.

Thank you village of Kake for providing the young men with T-shirts. They will remember their adventure when wearing them.

Thank you to the Nugget Inn, Audrey, Billy and Jen, also for providing meals.

Joel Jackson, thank you for taking a couple of the young men and their guardians fishing. They had a great time.

To all the others that provided snacks, good wishes and kindness to the young men, thank you.

Thanks to the governor, Fish and Game, James Lakeman and all the assistants that were with the young men.

A sincere thank you from our hearts.

Jim and Vicki Jairell

Port Camden

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