Educator's story was inspiring
I read, with a mixture of amusement and admiration, your article on the life and influence of Mittye P. Locke. Even though I never met Mrs. Locke, I have known educators like her. In the current atmosphere of standardized testing to rate schools and teachers, I find it interesting to see the words "caring" and "paddle" used in the headline.
I wonder how she would have adapted to today's attitude of protecting "self-esteem" by lowering standards, instead of fostering esteem through pride of accomplishment. I'm not a big fan of the paddle for everyone, but it did have its place. In my 30 years of teaching at Ridgewood High School, I have to say that I miss the years of Coach Larry Beets as dean of students and wielder of the paddle. (If you think that students didn't appreciate discipline, you would have been amazed that, when the administration and guests were introduced at graduation, Larry always got the biggest ovation from the students.)
Caring educators like Mrs. Locke are not as rare as you might think; however, I'm seeing a disturbing trend in education. Young, enthusiastic teachers are faced with mind-numbing pressure to get high student results on standardized tests. Instead of guidance, patience and nurturing, they often face mountains of paperwork, low-achieving classes, discipline problems and demands for individual plans for each and every student. The fact that they do care and want desperately to help students often leads to frustration and depression. It's no wonder that many of them don't make it past three years.
You stated that Mrs. Locke "always supported her teachers." If you want to find successful schools, find ones in which the administration supports the teachers and substitute teachers.
Thank you for dedicating so much space to a truly worthy woman. When reading about the people she inspired, I think about my ninth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Bloch, my inspiration, and hope that in my 31 years as a teacher I have inspired even a fraction of the number she inspired.
I remember when they changed the name of the Elfers school to Mittye P. Locke, but until now I never realized just how well-deserved that honor was.
Bob Selfe, New Port Richey
Re: Hudson swamp fire
Firefighters did a wonderful job
As a resident whose house backs up to the Buckhorn Creek area where there was a fire Feb. 23 near the intersection of Balsam Avenue and Misty Lane, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to the Department of Forestry fire professionals and to the firefighters of Pasco County Engine 28 for doing an incredibly efficient job.
Watching these men attack the fires within close range of the flames using their fire hoses or moving their large bulldozer/trenchers into the burning, dry swamp brush to dig fire lines to contain the fires makes you appreciate the danger these professionals are willing to face in order to protect the public. They offered concerned residents like myself reassurance that they would do everything in their power to protect our homes, and they certainly did.
I am deeply impressed with both departments for continuing to monitor the smoldering brush and providing the neighborhood with a sense of security that the fire is no longer a threat. Seeing their trucks coming down the street is a wonderful sight and very reassuring to those of us who have had to go through this frightening experience.
Jan Cummings, Hudson