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Dear kids and parents

Vicki Baumgartner, Frisco

Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw your letter in the Daily last week. It was enormously gratifying in and of itself, but even more so because of the exponentially cascading effect it created. Literally hundreds of kids and families have called, e-mailed, stopped by my house or classroom, or written a card to share a special moment of joy or inspiration. Everyone from 6-year-old Nicholas Zaitz (taking my hand and asking why I could not be his teacher) to 28-year-old Nathan Kibler-Silengo (now a successful Denver architect with his own firm, showing up at my house to see how I was doing) and everyone in between – you have all made this difficult decision sustainable. I wish to thank every one of you for the support and loving kindness you have shown me. The exemplary standards of my teaching practice and my ethical beliefs do not align with the management techniques of Summit School District, so I determined the best course of action was to resign. My life has encompassed so many inordinately fabulous experiences that I have no doubt more will reveal themselves. I will take the next year to focus on some old favorites – tennis, bridge, sailing, poetry – and the next challenge will present itself. Many of you inquired as to what you might be able to do to help me. The suggestions ran the gamut from phone calls and meetings to recall petitions and everything in between. I besieged you to refrain from becoming involved, lest you too had to pay an unconscionable price. But now, from my calm, confident place of complete freedom, I recognize what I want from all of you. One of my favorite movies is the one wherein a boy is challenged by his teacher to embrace the idea of service learning to the max. He is to create a positive situation for three other people and then ask them to “Pay It Forward.” So if I really have affected your lives in such powerfully positive and personal ways, find a way to do that for someone else – in large and small ways – over and over – with careful thought and personal sacrifice. Seek altruism in your daily existence to improve a life or even just a moment. And then, if they notice, ask them to pay it forward also. And of course, when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance!Finally, please know how extraordinarily blessed and happy I feel when I think of the many words you have all shared with me to lift me up to this new and joyous place of authentic living. I don’t do “phony” very well. It seems so demeaning to both parties. I was watching some of my present and former kids play baseball yesterday when a younger brother asked me to Rho-Sham-Bo something with him. I thought later that the moral conflicts of this world – in the confrontation of the rock hard brutishness of power with the tender vulnerability of paper-thin heartfelt beliefs – may seem unjust and calculatingly vicious. But sometimes … just sometimes … as in the children’s game, paper overcomes stone. One must be patient. Truth overcomes mendacity. Courage overcomes bellicosity. Sometimes … just sometimes … justice delayed is not justice denied. I stand for children, just as so many of you have stood up for me of late. I thank you again and always.


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