2013.06.19 Ashley Joughin: Concern for Morenci schools

Concern for Schools

As a young lady, I was blessed with excellent teachers in Morenci that influenced my desire to become a teacher myself. Not only did I have great teachers, but I went through the school system in a time where our administrators were outstanding. There is not one school function that I can remember Kay Johnson missing. She was constantly in the hallways and classrooms building relationships with each student. I’m fairly certain she could still tell you most of their names. When in high school, I can remember Mr. Griffith sleeping on the school’s roof, arranging a MEAP parade, and jumping into a kiddie pool during an assembly to reward and encourage us to do well in school.

It was always my dream to return to Morenci and “Pay it Forward,” if you will. I hoped to give to my students what my teachers were able to give to me. I have worked in four different school districts in seven years as a teacher and while some of them paid much more or offered better benefits for my family, my heart has always been with the students here. This past year, I was willing to cut my pay nearly in half to return and fill the spot of a retiree. 

However, as my first child prepares to enter kindergarten, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was concerned (as a parent) with the potential outlook for our district. Every teacher (with the exception of the new band director) was teaching in the middle and high school when I was a student. So it’s obvious to me that the change needed is not with the teachers here. We have exceptional educators who devote their lives to our students and their families. However, the example must come from the top. We need a leader that’s invested in this community and is going to be willing to go the extra mile and reach our students before and after school hours. We have qualified people inside our buildings that could step up as leaders if given the chance. They have already built relationships with students and staff and earned their respect. It is my hope that the school board will reach out to these people rather than bring in people from outside our community and put our students through another difficult transition period. I encourage parents, community members, students and other school employees to voice their opinions and concerns to school board members. This decision is crucial to the success of our students and the continued existence of our district. 

As all parents, I want my children to receive a top-notch education and multiple opportunities as they grow. But perhaps, just as important to me, is that my children are loved and cared for by people who have their best interests at heart. I want their teachers and administrators to know them by name and speak to them when we see them outside of the school building. There was a time when we were most definitely one of the top schools in the county and it is my hope that we will return there in the near future.

– Ashley Joughin