News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Teachers are handcuffed by rules, society

One reason I decided to teach was because of two teachers who took a chance to get close to me in high school. I knew they loved and cared about me because they showed me they did. I wanted to be that kind of teacher. I wanted to make a difference and let my students know someone cared.

It seems most people expect teachers to be perfect. Teachers must have classrooms conducive to learning, but that completely conform to society's ethics. We must adhere to the state curriculum, challenge the exceptional, remediate weaknesses, and identify and cater to the at-risk. We must incorporate technology, define boundaries, assess learning, modify for the learning disabled, and promote good character — all while keeping students at arm's length. But teachers can't make a difference in children's lives without getting next to them. Only they aren't supposed to get right next to children.

I agree there are teachers who have no business being around children. They should be investigated and held accountable for their actions and words.

But there are also good teachers trying to do the right thing. They take risks to get close to students, to make a difference. Teachers are expected to perform miracles every day. I am tired, frustrated, losing enthusiasm every day, and I'm only 15 years into my career.

It's about getting in the trenches. Teachers have to get close and get personal with students or they'll never reach them. But teachers are afraid to get close to them. We're afraid our pictures and names will be splashed all over the news with accusations of child abuse. It's better to remain gray and unnoticed than to be colorful and stand out.

What's the answer? I don't know. But if some things don't change, there won't be any teachers left.

Sheri Brown

Teacher, coach, parent

Priceville High School


Fire response exemplified neighborly spirit

This is to thank those who so wonderfully and tirelessly responded during and after the Sept. 17 fire in downtown Decatur.

First and foremost, there were no deaths or injuries. For that, we are thankful.

To the Decatur Fire Department and the firefighters involved, we give high praise. They responded quickly with the necessary equipment and manpower to contain what could have been a disaster for an entire block. Both during and after the fire, they acted in a disciplined and professional manner. The fire marshal was courteous and gracious, but professional and firm regarding public safety.

We also want to thank and commend our tenants. They took strong command of their needs as they emptied their buildings after the fire. I heard no complaining, no negative remarks and only saw strong, hardy souls working long hours, doing what they knew had to be done. Their friends, fellow merchants and block neighbors were there, supporting and working right with them. The community spirit was inspiring.

Space does not permit all that could be said about so many persons and agencies and we will, I'm sure, miss some. Forgive us. We do want to mention those we can think of: Community Development, insurance agents, adjusters and investigators, the Decatur Building Department, Decatur Utilities, the ServPro folks who responded to us, professional friends who have quickly helped us analyze our buildings so we could move quickly, tenants who want to stay in their locations if possible, Main Street of Decatur, the Downtown Merchants Organization, a personal friend who stayed with me all day Monday, quietly and efficiently helping organize and move things forward, the City of Decatur Street Department, the Decatur Police Department, and on and on.

Our Decatur community is great. Thank you.

Glenna Dee Jones


MCATS drivers courteous, well-informed

I am not used to writing letters applauding services by a company or government, but Morgan County Area Transportation System deserves such a letter.

The services they provide are irreplaceable, without a large increase in price or cut in services.

Since becoming unable to drive and in need of wheelchair transport, I have had the opportunity to meet all the drivers and have talked many times with the dispatcher. They are all very courteous and well informed of their duties.

I can only rate this service as AAAA+

E.C. Hall


DU workers dependable, professional

I would like to take a moment to recount two instances of truly great public service by Decatur Utilities workers.

Back in June, we had a street lamp that was burned out on our cul-de-sac. I had mistakenly assumed this would be the responsibility of our developer; but was informed that we needed to call Decatur Utilities.

We called them to fix the light and they came out that afternoon. Once there, they determined that it was not a lamp they supported. Much to my surprise, at roughly 8 p.m. that evening, they arrived back on our street and replaced the lamp fixture and did so with a smile and warm greeting.

These men obviously are fond of their work and provide a great service to the community. They are a tribute to Decatur Utilities.

The second event happened this past week. I ruptured a water line late in the evening. I called Decatur Utilities to explain the problem. They sent the repairman on call. He had to come from home to respond. Not only did he have a great attitude, he solved the problem quickly and in a professional manner.

From these two events, I am convinced that Decatur Utilities' employees display great pride in their efforts, are dependable, professional and proud to be serving the citizens of Decatur. Thanks. I, for one, appreciate it very much.

Mark T. Waters


Two sides to annexation proposals

Seems to me that the folks over in Morgan County are a little hypocritical on this annexation issue. They all jumped on the bandwagon when Decatur wanted to annex into Limestone County. The folks north of the river were against this, but they eventually got what they wanted.

Now this one doctor wants Huntsville to annex his land that is in Morgan County and they start kicking and screaming and hollering that he can't do that, that it's illegal and they won't let it happen.

Well, it looks like they have stopped this for now, but all the elected leaders might want to put the shoe on the other foot next time an annexation battle starts and think about what Decatur has done in the past.

Phillip Pettie


Letter wrong about Carter, patriotism

The letters to the editor in the Wednesday and Sunday papers are a good way for readers to express themselves on local and world issues. Some are interesting and some are trite. We read them and forget them. However, the letter from James O'Hara on Sept. 20 calls for a response.

Jim says that Lyndon Johnson's and Jimmy Carter's presidencies were failures. (I can't believe he left Richard Nixon out.) I won't defend Mr. Johnson because he led us deeper into the Vietnam War, while lying all the time that we were winning. (Doesn't this sound familiar today?) We eventually lost more than 45,000 of our young men and women and then turned tail and pulled out.

The criticism of Jimmy Carter was totally uncalled for. When Mr. Carter left office, he went back to Plains, Ga., where he still teaches in his local Baptist church. He has stayed active in world affairs, assisting other countries where he is needed. He and Rosalyn are deeply involved in Habitat for Humanity, building houses for people who need adequate housing. Can you imagine George Bush and Dick Cheney building a Habitat House?

Jim's letter ends with him saying that his party is the party of patriots and that all Democrats are unpatriotic because of their declarations that Mr. Bush's presidency is presently a failure. After over three years in Iraq, spending more than $300 billion, with thousands of men and women killed or maimed for life, there's no end in sight. We never finished our mission in Afghanistan, our national debt is fast approaching $9 trillion. This spells failure to me.

Despite our differences, I would never call Jim O'Hara unpatriotic, and I resent him saying that I am.

Charles D. Dunlap


Parking lot mishap calls for honesty

In your paper, I have read about children finding money who were honest enough to return it to the owner. It would be good if grandparents could learn this lesson about honesty.

Recently, West Morgan Elementary held grandparents' day for the fourth grade. I was there and so were many others. Someone hit my car at the school but didn't leave a note for me that they did it. I have white damage marks on my car and they have my red paint on theirs. They may not know, but their insurance will pay to repair my car (if they have insurance).

They must have some feelings of guilt. They need to be honest and contact the Trinity Police Department

Faye Standridge


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