Showing appreciation for school staff

To the Editor:

Have you noticed that our Bedford High School administration and staff have been under the gun lately? I’d like to invite our community to go out of your way to appreciate what they do for us. As a former teacher, coach, and assistant principal over 25 years ago I know how hard it was in those days, but recently I have noticed some devastating challenges in education. Last week I read an email from Bill Hagen about security threats describing collaborative efforts with the police to guard the school against an angry parent who had threatened a BHS staff member. Just a few weeks back various students defamed Chip McGee in tweets complaining school wasn’t cancelled. A few months back I coincidentally arrived at BHS during an emergency lockdown drill and witnessed the school staff practicing to keep our kids safe. I’ve been talking to Scott Earnshaw, a high school classmate of mine and current school board member, and he has helped me understand the constant threats of danger or of court actions. I had no idea that the school administration and the athletic department have to verify hundreds of encounters to protect the school from being sued. I’ve heard stories about some students who are continually cheating their way through school to get to the Ivy League. It is in this difficult environment that our BHS staff rises to the challenge and has served our community in an exemplary manner.

Lately I have seen what they do from the inside because my son has been on and off concussion protocol for the last three years and I have had so many meetings that I’m on a first named basis with many of them. It seems to me that Chip and Bill initiate this first name atmosphere because they see themselves as partners with us in serving our children. I’d like to honor them and name so many that have helped us. Gary Dempsey gets around to so many meetings to be available and help kids in need or trouble—I have no idea how he does this. Nadine Palmer has been there for us working on problems, helping guide the college searches, and just understanding what is needed, and I notice Zanna always in the background supporting her whole staff. The other day I sat with Jill Romano in the athletic department who was helping me understand the concussion protocol–again, and this guy Eric Gelinas comes in to help all the kids recovering from injuries. Bill Whittemore has done a great job with all our coaches, but you will note that winning is not the priority, but preparing our kids for life. Kurt Hines is also extraordinary in recognizing that sports is all about building “relentless” character. My other favorite coaches are Jon Cannon and especially “peace, love, and funny” Robby Zeller. I wish I weren’t on first named basis with the nurses, Kim Hughes and Marianne Schalk-Glassman, who are managing concussions and much more; they are so professional and keep you informed of every detail and show up at “the meetings.” I’ve been to way too many meetings . . . and now I’d like to name the teachers, Elizabeth Charbonneau, Jennifer Baney (who always has a small crowd of kids asking for help with Physics), Jeff Stanwood, Jill Pearson, Katie Orrigio, Heidi Wehmeyer, Jim Pingree, and especially Jason Roy because one day he took my son aside to encourage him because he had noticed how difficult his life had been at BHS trying to cope with so many concussions. You are just a few of the excellent teachers who have made such a difference in so many difficulties my son has faced dealing with repeated concussions. Just watch out for Mrs. Edwards, the smiling secretary and receptionist, who always tries to steal your keys (she holds your keys in ransom so you can have a guest pass)!

Do you appreciate their excellence? Why don’t you join me and the next time you see them, honor them for all they do, and remember to keep them in your prayers.

Dick Kiernan