Key Ingredients of a Great Education: Teachers and Space
I fully agree with the sentiments expressed by Jim Byrne and Robin Jovanovich in the article “The Need for Expansion at RHS” when the two authors mentioned that even having graduated from high school during different decades, the memories recalled are of great teachers and not the physical classroom space.
Although I graduated in yet another decade from the authors (the 1980s), I still think fondly of an amazing storyteller – my Social Studies teacher — who made Canadian political history fascinating (not an easy task, by the way). Many years later, I cannot hear Pink Floyd without recalling the English teacher who assigned our ninth-grade class to analyze the lyrics to “The Wall” after she heard her own teenagers playing the album at home.
I remember the scent of formaldehyde permeating the science lab when I made the first incision of our frog dissection after losing a coin flip to my Biology lab partner. I got to legitimately play with fire when I turned on the Bunsen burner in Chemistry class and watched solutions bubble and change color. Then I had to figure out what to do when the chemical result was completely unexpected. Do it again? Write it up as a negative result? Fake results for the lab report? (OK, I probably shouldn’t admit to my children that on one occasion I did “create” results!) My Physics teacher, Mr. Golightly (affectionately known as “Mr. Treadsoftly”) encouraged us not only to learn the math behind force analysis, but also to observe forces at work – I still have a picture in my mind of the effects of the small electromagnet we created in the lab. In addition to the teachers and hands-on learning, I also happily recall meeting with friends at the cafeteria in the middle of the day, and finding a (relatively) quiet corner where we could talk more than we ate.
The teachers of the Rye City School District are an extraordinary group of educators who are creating the memories of Rye High School that their students will recall decades from now. I would hope the young people of Rye can also have the hands-on learning experiences that I remember so many years later – which are currently not possible in science labs where teachers are only able to demonstrate Bunsen burner experiments or must crowd six or more students around a lab station to watch a dissection. I also hope that the scheduling difficulties of an overcrowded building might be alleviated enough that students can stop for lunch with friends in the middle of the day – instead of having “lunch” break scheduled during second period (before 9 a.m.) and racing out of Band class early to grab a bite and run to their next class at midday.
I will be voting yes for the school bond March 13 in hope that the students of Rye can experience the excellent teaching, hands-on learning experiences and time with friends that I recall from my high school.
Stop the Anonymous Campaign Attacks
Recently, Rye residents have been subjected to a barrage of robocalls and Facebook ads attacking our neighbor, New York State Assemblyman George Latimer. The occasion, of course, is State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer’s announcement that she won’t run for reelection, and speculation that Latimer may run for her seat.
The destructiveness of this brutish tactic cannot be overestimated. All of us lose when a man who hasn’t even announced his candidacy faces personal attacks and distorted accusations. This discourages decent people from entering the fray. It distracts voters from rationally examining the candidates’ positions and records. Perhaps, worst of all, it pits neighbor against neighbor in a community in which, up until now, people of opposing political persuasions have gotten along just fine.
We are appalled to see anonymous attackers shamelessly try to lower our community’s level of discourse and civility. We hope Rye folks, liberal and conservative alike, will unite in condemning this nastiness.
Meg Cameron and Jim Glickenhaus
Two Yes Votes from Longtime Residents
As grandparents of current Rye Middle and High School students we are committed to trying to give them the same excellent education that our three children received in these schools. Your article “The Need for Expansion at RHS” in the last Rye Record presented some of the reasons why we will support the upcoming revised bond, as we did the previous one.
The photos included in the school “tour” you took, which one can see on the Rye Record website, show more clearly than the text the decrepit condition of the science labs, the locker room fixtures, etc., which desperately need replacement. As we know, it is all too easy to defer needed capital improvements.
The feedback from our grandchildren is that the two schools are over-crowded; one expert has said that they are at 104% over capacity. But little mention was made in the article of the situation going forward, which is projected to be even more growth beyond current overcapacity.
In 1996 our K-12 grade enrollment was 2,202 students; in the current school year the number is 3,235. And we as taxpayers must be aware that the projections are for continued growth in enrollment — to 3,537 students in 2021.
We, as many of you I’m sure, came to Rye (in our case over 40 years ago) primarily because of the reputation of our good public schools. It’s to everyone’s economic benefit that Rye’s schools continue to deserve that reputation. We will vote for the upcoming revised bond in March.
Carolyn and John Cunningham