To the Editor,

   Wow, how could there be a `gorilla in the room that no one talks about' when it seems as though at every possible opporunity the editor of our local newspaper seems bent on discussing School District 509-J in a negative manner. How does promoting negativism toward the school district in the newspaper add to the problem of perceived perceptions? Why is it going to be up to the new superintendant to change "this culture, this reputation, this perception, this stigma"? What part do you as a `responsible' news person play?
   It seems as though the newspaper writer should collect information from all angles before making generalized statements, which may or may not be accurate. How often has the writer visited the schools to actually see personally what is happening in the classrooms and in the hallways? Why would you take the word of one local official? For you to solely blame, or quote someone else who blames the school district for the `relatively stagnant economic growth' is unconscionable.
   I for one am tired of sitting back and getting bombarded by the newspaper in negative ways.
   My first job with the district twentyfive years ago involved traveling among all of the district schools as the school nurse, getting to know students and their school staff. For the most part, the teachers and the staff in all of the buildings were working their hearts out for students. All sorts of expertise were applied, using as many creative ways in working with students as possible `for classroom excellence.' School staff has always had this amazing way of quietly collaberating about students, trying to figure out the best way to work with kids to have the most positive outcomes. The staff continuously pays attention to what is going on with students and they address whatever issues that surface.
   The last 12 years, I have been in two buildings, as a counselor at the high school and now as an elementary school counselor. Again, any of the staff that I have had the pleasure of working with, have been bright, caring people, who are extremely tuned in to the student's and their needs. I have the responsibility of running a weekly meeting where various district professionals come together to discuss certain student's needs. The teachers have usually tried everything possible with a student before their name is brought forth. They do not give up and they are open to trying new ideas or approaches. I continue to be amazed and grateful for their neverending dedication to serving students, their families and the community.
   Now, is every school employee perfect? Does every staff member always do the right or perfect thing? Do we screw up sometimes? Do some people who work for the district choose (this is America after all!) to live elsewhere/have their children go to schools outside the district? Yikes! Give us a break already!
   Schools have somehow been given the job of trying to fill a lot of gaps for kids, in addition to educating them. Why can't you (the newspaper writers) research things carefully, and then think of constructive ways to present the information more accurately to the public? I believe that you play a huge role in making sure that we promote Madras and Jefferson County School District 509-J in the best possible way.
   Lynn Gassner
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