Just to Clarify

I have received various amounts of comments and responses about my last blog post from people I know and people I don’t know. I understand that this post has reached out further than I imagined, and I am sure this has to do with Social Media and good ole southern gossip. However, I would like to take the time to clarify what the intent of the letter was. Many of you were drawn to the link most likely because of the rather blunt and harsh title. As the post was rather long, I doubt many people read the letter in its entirety. I know I would not have done so, if I had been in the position of many of you readers.

I too hold the same diploma that many of you have or will be receiving shortly, whether that be on Sunday or in the next few years. In no way am I devaluating the SCPS diploma. The SCPS High School has set a wonderful foundation for me to succeed at Georgia Tech. I feel like I was well prepared for the rigor and academics here. I would not choose to attend another high school in Savannah if I was given the choice. I know many of you worked hard in school. I did not shy away from hard work either. There were many times in High School where I felt like I worked twice as hard as the other students in my class, yet only had average grades. I agree that without Savannah Christian I would not be where I am today. It is a unique school with many opportunities. The majority of the teachers I had, had a passion for teaching and wanted to impart their knowledge to their students. Sometimes I did not mesh with their style or approach to teaching, but it did not stop me from trying to absorb what they taught me nor did it prevent me from respecting them as an educator. There is always something to learn from someone, and sometimes you don’t realize until further down the road in life.

With this blog post, I merely wanted to express that I believed that these teachers that were let go were a real asset to the SCPS, especially the middle school. (I personally believe that the middle school could be reworked to be a little more academically challenging, that it does not quite call students to the same level of academic standard as the high school does.) I question why such an event would happen, when these teachers have made a lasting impact on me and many others. I am sure you have had teachers that have done the same too you. What I want to know is why the school administration who is in charge of hiring/firing doesn’t see the value in these teachers, that by letting them go the quality of the education goes down, that by letting them go the school appears to not care about fostering the students. I am sure there is a back story that I am unaware of and administration steps that I do not understand as I am not a teacher.

In hindsight, the title may be too harsh, but the letter itself is just an attempt to show how these amazing teachers have influenced me. It is a credit to their skills and passions to educate the next generations that flow through SCPS’s doors.

We all have our opinions, have our own experiences with the school. For some SCPS was the best thing that ever happened in their life, others feel an indifference towards the school. I respect your opinions and your right to express them, even those who disagree with me. I appreciate those who have taken the time to respond to my blog and have voiced their opinions. I hope that this post helps to clarify the intentions of my letter.

Savannah Christian: A school that doesn’t foster the growth of students.

Savannah Christian Preparatory School(SCPS) has, over the past five years, slipped from being highly esteemed in the community to being disrespected by the alumni and the parents. I have personal accounts of families warning other prospective families not to send their children to SCPS because of the lack of respect the upper administration has for the teachers (the teachers who do the most to foster and develop your children), the people who influence your children the most after you, the parents. There have been a handful of teachers outside of Hancock Day School, my elementary School, that have influenced me significantly, and five of them have been fired. And who is to say that others won’t be?

Here is the letter I plan on sending to the Middle School and the Headmaster, concerning the latest rounds of firing of teachers:

It has come to my attention through Twitter that certain a Ms. Davis, who has taught in the Middle School since 2009 and has long been a substitute teacher, was fired recently as well as Ms. Fidler, Ms. Duffy, and Coach Wuest. As an alumna of SCPS, I would like to take the time to explain and to convince why the recent decisions of the Middle School administration is of poor taste.

In 2006 I transferred from one of the best elementary schools in Savannah, Hancock Day School to SCPS (Hancock did not offer a Middle School and High School program).  I proceeded to earn straight As in middle school as a student athlete, taking the academic electives over the goof-off classes while participating on the Pep Squad, Cheerleading, Soccer teams,and various other clubs. However, the academics were of sub-par, even in the advanced classes. This was not always the fault of the teachers as the academic standards and curriculum is decided by the department heads and the principles. Most of my middle school career was spent reviewing topics that I learned in fourth and fifth grade, even second grade, especially in the English classes. Yes, there were classes and teachers who taught me a significant amount but not every class was this way. 

In January of 2009, Ms. Davis was hired as a permanent sub for the eighth grade English classes (if I remember correctly both regular and advanced) as the previous teacher was on maternity leave. At the time I was in Adv. English and planning on taking Adv. English in ninth grade with the aspiration of taking AP English later on; therefore, it was of the up most importance to both my parents and myself that the Middle School English curriculum prepare me for the demanding English courses of the High School. I knew several students who had older siblings that had gone the Advanced track in the MS and moved into the Advanced/Pre-AP English in ninth grade. They said that they were not prepared for the rigor of the High School English class. They wished the Middle School had prepared them better. When Ms. Davis stepped into the role of our new teacher, she went straight to business. One of the first things she said was that the High School English courses were much harder than what we were used. (She had first hand experience as her eldest daughter was in High School at SCPS.) She wanted to try to bring us up to par and to prepare us. She wanted us to succeed in the next level.

After entering the ninth grade and completing the first semester of Adv. English, I knew that there would have been no way that I could have managed the B that I had if Ms. Davis had not held us to that high standard. She made us write timed essays on a range of topics to ensure that we were accustomed to the idea of spitting out a coherent essay in 40 minutes. Honestly, I would have failed the first English timed essay if it hadn’t been for Ms. Davis.

Also, she took her time grading the essays and our written work, ensuring that each student’s work had constructive comments. She was approachable making it easy to ask her advice when we struggled to fix her corrections. It is to her and a few others among a small group of English teachers that I have had over my 15 years of schooling that I accredit my writing success to. I recently finished my second year at Georgia Tech. I am currently working at my second Journalism Internship. I am strong writer, with a strong style. I have received praise for my writing from friends, professors, and bosses. I perform well under time pressures. Because of her I was able to define my style. It is because of her I learned to love writing again. It is because of her that I find myself successfully pursuing a Journalism career. It is because of her that I learned that academic writing could be as easy as creative writing. It is because she set the basis, the ever-important rock foundation that later teachers and professors were able to build off of. It is her I have to thank.

I am not the only student that she has touched. Soon after that semester, Ms. Davis went on to become a full-time staff member of the SCPS MS, if I remember correctly. She taught both History and English. She called students to a higher standard whether they be in advanced or regular. She made sure that students understood that is the student himself who earns the grade, through their work or lack thereof. No teacher, no parent is responsible for what grade a student makes. She was fostering a new generation of students who were not entitled to an A, but a generation of students that were willing to come to class and do the work for the A.

Aren’t those the kinds of students that SCPS wants to boast about? Those that have a love for learning and academia. Shouldn’t you want to push students to work for their A? Shouldn’t you focus on not creating an entitled generation? Don’t you want teachers that push and encourage students? Don’t you want teachers that take these students and mold them into God-fearing, intelligent beings that will better the world? That is what MS. Davis did. Each student will tell you that she impacted their life in one way or another. Each student has a reason to love her, respect her. Each student has a reason to thank her.

As for the other teachers who were also distastefully fired, I have the upmost esteem for them. Ms. Fidler was an amazing Math teacher, who broke down the concepts of Math effortlessly. I used her tricks for years afterwards. My grade in her class soared from not-so-great to one of the highest in just a quarter because she took the time out of her schedule to approach me and to help me. She was the one who pointed out that I could be successful in Math, that I was a gifted Math student. She found a talent in me that I didn’t even knew I had. She nurtured the Math “youngling” in me. Her Latin class has stuck with me for what is now nine years, as well.  Ms. Duffy’s passion for History drove me to fall even more in love with History. I loved talking with her after class about what we were learning in class. She was full of interesting facts. She also nurtured my love for History. She let me grow and expand in it, at a time when it is so important. She let me decided what was right and wrong in History. She provided the facts and let me run with it. Coach Wuest pushed me on the soccer field and in the classroom to another level. The amount I learned and developed in his class is exponential. I have heard many, many times on several occasions that Coach Wuest’s class was the only English class that they learned anything in. His class was the first time that I had been exposed to non-creative writing in an English class. It opened a new world to me, one that would drive me to Journalism.

I hope you have realized that by firing her and the others, you have only hurt the school’s name. This is one act in a long list of events over the past five to six years that soiled the name and image of SCPS. As you know Savannah is a small town that gossip and news flies through. Acts like this leave the SCPS community in a negative state of being and impacts the decisions of prospect families. I can personally tell you that I know of people who have told families new to the area not to send their children to SCPS because the school doesn’t value the teachers and the drive to educate the students to be competitive with the students who apply for Ivy and second tier schools. The foundations of those students start in Elementary School, continue through Middle School, and develop in High School aided by teachers like Ms. Davis, Ms. Fidler, Ms. Duffy, and Coach Wuest.

Sincerely,
Katherine Hewitt
SCPS Class of 2013
Georgia Tech Class of 2017. International Affairs.
http://www.ka2t.wordpress.com

Behind Every Idea is an Economic Issue

As a former Economics major, when I look at certain policies proposed and platforms issued for humanitarian aid groups, I am constantly looking at the economic side of the idea.  Every action that you will want to take will have a side affect in the economy, and sometimes (most likely) it will be against a group/idea that they claim to support.

Many organizations look for ways that governments can redirect spending to aid those in need around the world.  I think we can all agree that the ideas laid down in the UN Millennium Development Goals would be a significant project to complete; however, it is not feasible from an economic standpoint.  There must be losers and winners.  (Even in communism and fascism there are losers and winners despite the philosophies striving for equality and the end to using people as a means for the ends.)

There are reasons that certain economic principles are in place. For example the subsidies that U.S cotton farmers receive.  Yes, that money could be used for some amazing utilitarian project. But let me ask, What happens to these farmers and the U.S. market when we take those subsidies away???

Basic econ lesson: Subsidies are usually but in place because a good that country A produces can be produce cheaper in Country B, whether that be to tariffs, access to raw material, ect. If country A wants to protect the makers of the good, they let the sellers sell their commodity at the World Price for a loss.  That is where the subsidy comes in: to make up for the difference.

If the U.S were to redirect this money or even a portion of this money for helping the poor of another nation, then the U.S. has to deal with thousands of farmers who have lost their livelihood and can’t afford to contribute to the economy, which only causes a downward spiral.(One’s spending is another’s income.)  The U.S. would then be stuck trying deal with increased poverty rates and the adverse side affects that go along with it within their own borders.  And a country has a duty to protect its citizens first before helping those of another country.  It is why we willingly go along with rules and regulations because we hope that government will protect us and our rights and security.