06-28-2018 Letters and Commentary

More than a librarian!

Dear Editor,

Mrs. Vawter has been an educator in the Watervliet Public Schools for over 30 years. In her role as Paraprofessional and Elementary School Librarian, she has touched and impacted the lives of thousands of Watervliet students.

I have witnessed this impact myself over the last three decades, as countless people ranging in ages from 5 to 35 continue to approach her when she is out in public. It always starts the same, “Mrs. Vawter, Mrs. Vawter!” with an excited hand wave and gestures and she always responds to them by name and with genuine fondness and empathy for their wellbeing.

And caring passionately about her students and their progress is what Diane Vawter brought to the WPS EVERY day, ALL day! This passion (which is not taught) along with her copious skill sets in reading, writing, grammar and penmanship played a critical role in the educational foundation of so many successful WPS students.

About 20 years ago I was talking with the late Dan Stack (Coloma Elementary Principal & close friend) about kids and learning disabilities. I asked him what methods and techniques that he found to be successful. He responded, “Bill, in my 30-plus years of Public Education, the one factor that has always held true, is this. If it becomes important enough to a kid, they will find a way! That is our challenge as parents and educators – How do we make it important enough to the kids?”

Well, it has been important to Diane Vawter! Important enough that she spent countless UNPAID summer days preparing her library for the coming year. Important enough that she challenged kids to read, showed them it was cool to be smart and speak well, and turned them on to the lifetime of opportunity and enjoyment that strong reading skills provide.

Way more than a librarian! Worth way more than the cost of her salary! And since June 7, she has been enjoying a well-deserved retirement. She will still be my sister-in-law, but she will not be WPS’s Elementary School Librarian any more. It has now become very IMPORTANT to WPS to find another one. Wish us luck, but in the meantime… Mrs. Vawter, Mrs. Vawter!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!


Bill Spaulding

President of BOE – Watervliet Public Schools

Treatment of migrant families

Dear Editor,

I’ve never been more sickened by anything in my life than by what our government is doing to migrant families at our southern border. Screaming toddlers put in cages like animals, a nursing baby taken right from her mother’s breast, siblings forbidden to hug each other for comfort. Our government is terrorizing children in concentration camps.

Are these migrants “illegal”? Have they broken the law? No, and no. You apply for asylum by turning yourself in at the border. Those are the rules we made, and they’re following them.

As a Catholic Christian, I’m pleased that my church’s leaders have unequivocally condemned what our government is doing to families at the border. The U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference declared it “immoral.” One bishop has recommended denying Communion to anyone who participates in enforcing this government policy. New York’s Cardinal Dolan publicly told U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that there’s “no Bible passage” to justify family separation—in stern repudiation of Sessions’ claim that there was. Prominent Jesuit Father James Martin has called this psychological torture of children “evil.”

(Sessions’ own church, United Methodist Church, has formally charged him with “child abuse.”)

Father Martin said this past Father’s Day, “Please remember all the fathers in Central America who are fleeing poverty and persecution in search of a safe life for their families. This is why parents come to the border with their children… because they love them.” Like Joseph loved his son, Jesus, and fled with him and Mary to a foreign land for their safety. To all my fellow Christians: remember that your Savior was a brown-skinned child refugee running for his life. Jesus said: “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me… Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.” (Matthew 25: 35-46)

Before you trot out any justifications for what the government is doing, listen again to Father Martin: “The next time you are tempted to blame migrants for anything, ask yourself what you would do if your family were facing gang violence, persecution, famine, poverty or warfare. Would you have the guts to