We must believe in our students

Published 12:42 am Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I was highly disturbed in reading an article written by Shawn Smith that was printed in The Natchez Democrat on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

In this article written by Smith, he stated, “The majority of the students we teach in the Natchez-Adams School District come to us from a culture that celebrates ignorance, defiance and criminality. These students lack even the most basic social skills and speaking a language that is so far removed from common American speech that they can barely understand academic English at all. Their parents are part of the same environment. The students I am describing make up nearly 90 percent of the student body.”

First, Shawn Smith teaches music (strings) to approximately 26 of 650 students at Morgantown Elementary, 15 of 607 students at Robert Lewis Middle School and 8 of 1,100 students at Natchez High School. How in the world can Smith ascertain that nearly 90 percent of the students enrolled in the Natchez-Adams School District account for the above description when he presently teaches only 1.3 percent of the students in the district?

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Furthermore, I do now know of any culture that “celebrates” the culture that he describes.

Evidently, they are speaking the English language because every student that I have spoken to articulates the English language extremely well.

Being an educator for 22 years, I have never frowned on a student. I have always looked for the best in my students because they all have the potential to be great and productive people of our society.

There is no socioeconomic specificity or cultural specificity of success; there are rich and poor people who have made great contributions to this world. There are rich and poor people that are in prison.

I have personally seen people labeled by people like Shawn Smith and many of these people hold doctorate degrees from Ivy League universities, and they have become great success stories.

I believe an overwhelming majority of the students in the Natchez-Adams School District have proven Shawn Smith wrong and will continue to prove him wrong.

I strongly believe that as long as we have faculty and parents that motivate and encourage them we will continue to produce successful students.

Darryl V. Grennell

Adams County supervisor