Letters to the Editor

Letter | Great teachers are making a difference

The Mercer Island School District is facing dramatic cuts in state funding that will directly impact classrooms. The sheer magnitude of the anticipated deficit can sometimes seem overwhelming and a little depressing. As we all contemplate the challenge before us, we would like to tell one story of what can happen when a local community rallies to support its schools.

Last year at this time, when faced with a similar — albeit smaller — budget deficit, our community responded by raising the unprecedented amount of $850,000 to offset state funding cuts. Not only did this generosity prevent teacher layoffs, it allowed our school district to hire additional teachers to support smaller classes in the most needed areas. One of those areas was second grade, where classes have seen reductions of approximately five students per class as compared to that cohort’s first grade year, when classes of 26-28 students were common. This reduction means every child receives more individual attention and more personalized instruction. Second grade is a critical time for many children’s development in literacy, when the light bulb suddenly switches on for reading; increased personal attention made possible by smaller classes has ensured those lights continue to shine. It has been so exciting to see these young children flourish as developing readers and writers.

Smaller classes are great, but quality teaching is also essential, which brings us to our children’s teacher, Cindi Pacecca, one of the newly hired second grade teachers. Mrs. Pacecca is a wonderful instructor who strikes a perfect balance between maintaining discipline and focus in the classroom while also instilling a love of learning in her students. She has that very special empathetic quality so crucial in teaching and so commonly present in great teachers. At curriculum night last fall, she closed the evening by reassuring us all that, when our children arrive at school, there would be another adult (her) who would care for and love them. Yes, she actually said she would love them! We have all seen her in action and can testify that this promise has been kept.

Mrs. Pacecca is a great teacher, but we know our experience is typical in Mercer Island schools. Selfless, tireless and sometimes heroic efforts are made every day by our teachers. We are very thankful for their service to our children and our community.

Unfortunately, many of our great teachers (including our own Mrs. Pacecca) are again at risk due to state funding cuts. In many school districts, the result is a foregone conclusion. But we live in a special place, where the school and community are bound together geographically, socially and economically; where we expect the best from ourselves, our children and our schools; and where we never give up. Please join us in continuing to support the Mercer Island Schools Foundation and PTA’s campaign to Bridge the Gap and thus ensure we retain our great teachers and maintain the quality of our schools.

Respectfully submitted,

Lakeridge parents

Jackie Brown and Alesia Pinney, Joe and Judy Dixon, Julie and Ken Duffie, Susan and Gordon Empey, Jennifer Headrick, Emily Norden, Lisa and, John Novak, Monica and John Phillips, Alex Schmidt-Warnecke

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