Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Are our Schools In Crisis?: Even the Children Know the Answer

My name is Jonathan Vasquez, I live at --- Engle Street, and I am a student at JDMS.  Two weeks ago I heard my mom ranting to my father about injustices, broken promises, submissive community and so on.  What really caught my attention though was when my mom said that if no one was going to watch out for the kids in the school, then who will?  I thought, and I believe I am talking for the entire school population, that Mr. Thomas was our actual principal.  My reasons are that in structure, schools are run as the country, and when the president, in this case the principal who happened to be Ms. Ortiz, steps down from authority the “vice-president”, in this case Mr. Thomas, would take over.  This did not happen though, and now we are stuck without a leader for the school, and as far as I know, Mr. Thomas has the qualifications to become a principal and he is well liked and known in the community, so really the only reasons that certain board members will not vote for him is because of personal reasons, and that is not right.

As adults, people are always asking us to do this or to do that, telling us how we should act and what their expectations of us are and so on.  But the problem is that, most adults hear us but do not listen to us, they look at us but do not see us.  That is what makes Mr. Thomas different, he not only listens and see us, but he motivates us every day to excel with his positive attitude and messages.  Mr. Thomas treats everyone the same with kindness and respect.  He shows us with actions and not words that he really cares about us and wants the best for us, he shows us how to be better students and better people. 

Therefore, I am respectfully asking you the board members, for Mr. Thomas to have the title of principal for JDMS.  I know that everyone in the district main wish is for the Englewood Schools to become one of the bests in the state, but for that strong leaders are needed to lead us there.  Archimedes once said “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world”.  To me and I truly feel is the same thought of most of JMDS student body, Mr. Thomas is our lever.  Thank you.

                   Jonathan's actual speech to the Board of Education

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The statement above was read by the author, a 7th  grade honor student, at the November 17, 2011 school board meeting. Before listening to this young man and a group of Janis Dismus children speak, I did not think one way or the other about Mr. Thomas. I did not have any first hand information about his leadership qualities or abilities. I did know that  he did not enjoy the confidence of the Board President, because of remarks made by Mr. Garrison outside of the Municipal building after one of the "Meet the Candidates" sessions. A group of students from Jan Dismus Middle School attended the meeting and spoke up for the man that they thought was already their principal. These young people demonstrated great pride in their school and in their principal. It was obvious that Mr. Thomas was doing a job that was satisfactory to them and their parents. I was impressed with the children. We encourage and support education, not indoctrination.

Mr. Thomas has been running the middle school since September. The candidate suggested and appointed by the Board of Education and Dr. Carlise turned down the job after attending a meeting in the middle school during the summer. At this meeting, concerned parents were very vocal about what they thought was a poor plan for their school. Mr. Thomas was forced to step in and explain the plan and strategy utilized in reorganizing the failing school. Mrs. Ortiz (the appointed principal) does not hold a standard New Jersey Certification and works in a school with less than 100 students. Perhaps the challenge presented by Janis Dismus was slightly over her head and beyond her skill set.

   How are the children? If this young man is any indication, they are well.

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