2009-06-25 / Letters to the Editor

Thanks for a great education

As my son prepares for graduation exercises at Lawn Avenue School, I want to express sincere gratitude to the educators, mentors, coaches and quiet heroes in the Jamestown community who have given this graduating eighth-grade class a strong foundation for later learning. If you have ever attended a PTO meeting, chaperoned a field trip, coached an athletic team, run for public office or simply paid your taxes, you have given these youngsters a leg up in the world.

It is particularly gratifying to see children who were identified with special needs at age 3 or 4 graduating on time with their peers– precisely because they received the early intervention and resource help they needed at the critical time.

We can be justly proud of our pre-school, autism program, dedicated teaching team, the activism of the Special Education Local Advisory Committee and a School Committee that believes all children can achieve high standards.

I see evidence, in the kindness and cohesion of this graduating class, that those with so-called “learning differences” have enriched and broadened the student body as a whole. Jamestown citizens have consistently supported a high standard of public education– and the outcome is priceless.

Describing to outsiders what it’s like to raise a family in Jamestown, I mention an island setting without shopping malls or urban sprawl. A place where kids are actively engaged, can explore the outdoors and grow confident with adults.

Our most respected citizens are those who volunteer: firefighters and rescue workers, coaches and classroom moms. Our teens are accountable because adults know who they are and can find out what they’re up to.

Thanks to the Jamestown Education Foundation, children from grades K through 8 can choose from a menu of free after-school enrichment programs. Our town center has become a “campus” where students can safely walk or bike to ball fields, tennis courts, the public library, playground, beach, community center and teen center.

They can audition for Jame stown Community Theatre, clean our beaches on Earth Day and snorkel at Save the Bay Summer Camp. Soon, with adequate support from the community, the nonprofi t Jamestown Arts Center will add a 5,000-sq. ft. education, performance and exhibition facility for all ages within the downtown “campus.”

For all its assets, Jamestown also can be isolative for youngsters living within “the bubble.” We are fortunate that Jamestown’s quality of life and fine schools draw approximately 50 families from the Naval War College each year. These families have lived all over the world and add diversity and a high level of volunteerism to the Jamestown Community.

My thanks to all for supporting Jamestown students.
Betsy Gooding

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