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LETTERS

All Talk and No Action
Congratulations to Patricia Calhoun for an excellent column, "The Smother Brother," in the January 12 issue. She may be the only person who ever gets the last word in with Ramblin' Hamblin.

Sophia Thomas
Denver

I very much enjoyed Patricia Calhoun's piece on Ken Hamblin. However, I have seen her on Channel 12 and I must agree: Her hair is a mop.

Richard Brackett
Arvada

It is unfortunate that Patricia Calhoun chose to take a humorous approach in her article about Ken Hamblin. There is nothing funny about sexual harassment. From everything I have read about the situation, including Ms. Calhoun's aside about Mr. Martishang's comments, the amosphere at KNUS is indeed hostile to women.

J.S. Sterling
Denver

Principal Reasons
Regarding Robin Chotzinoff's "Class Dismissed" in the January 5 issue:
As her principal in her last school assignment, I feel compelled to write a response to the attempted expose regarding the tragic death of teacher Hillary Adams. I feel compelled because I do not believe that a news article can provide a single cause for anyone's suicide.

Clearly, people in addition to the Barnum Elementary staff have been affected by Hillary's death. She worked two and a half days total at Cheltenham Elementary School last fall, yet a classroom of children and their parents plus a team of teachers and other staff were deeply shocked, confused and sorrowful. We, too, were left with a number of questions and mixed emotions.

When I received news of Hillary's death, I realized that our understandings of Hillary were superficial at best. It seemed that her ability to see her effectiveness as a teacher and person had snapped. So when I received a call last September from a former colleague of Hillary's that was an attempt to console me by the news that my staff and I were not to blame, I wondered how anyone could lay blame for such a complicated action. When I was informed that, in fact, Ms. Judy Chavez, her former principal at Barnum Elementary, was to blame, I could only feel pity for the caller who was so impacted by grief for her colleague and friend.

Hillary's decision most likely had something to do with things unknown to us. She was inherently a "giver"--like most people who go into education. For a dedicated teacher there is always the danger of giving too much, of seeing oneself as indispensable to others, then all of a sudden having nothing to give to oneself.

I will not pretend to know the kind of support that helps suicidal people stay in life. I do know that public education is of late the "whipping boy," especially in the media, in the legislature and with the voting public. The profession of teaching is blamed and degraded for the failings of society as a whole. Every day I work alongside dedicated teachers who continue to provide the best possible learning for our students with little outside recognition and much outside criticism.

Judy Chavez is also giving and dedicated as an educator. I refuse to let the myopia of one reporter slant the words and actions of a school principal, page after page, without taking a deeper view. There are in fact many lessons in Hillary's death. One lesson is of support--support for teachers to thrive and to take risks in an ever-challenging environment. Similarly, school principals need the support to guide and to reform schools. Another lesson could be that what we do for a living, no matter how passionately, is only a layer of who we really are. The main lesson in this lovely woman's death is that we risk being open to others and risk loving ourselves for the benefit of the children we raise and teach.

Hillary continues to teach us in her death only if we seek to understand her life and STOP THE BLAME. We cannot educate children without the support of the Hillarys and the Judys of this profession. Indeed, Ms. Chotzinoff, there are no Snow Queens in this world, only multifaceted and very vulnerable human beings.

Paula Arroyo
Denver

I thought nothing could be sadder than Robin Chotzinoff's story about Hillary Adams's suicide. I was wrong. The letters published in Westword the following week, showing the depth of teachers' despair with the system, were incredibly moving. Thank you for sharing them with us. I know I will think twice before I become impatient with my child's teacher.

Joni Samuels
Denver

Denver Public Schools' solution to cutting administration was to send administrators to the schools as principals. Did Hillary Adams die so that DPS could balance the budget?

Name withheld on request

The Apes of Wrath
Regarding "Gorilla Tactics" in the January 12 issue:
Another excellent story by David Chandler about the empire-building out at Denver International Airport. Let us just hope that the $5 billion gorilla never lands on Denver taxpayers and demands that they bail out the project.

Henry Hanson
Adams County Editor's note: "Gorilla Tactics" erred in reporting electronic failures at the control tower at Vance Brand airport in Longmont. The airport actually has no control tower; the radar and radio communications breakdowns (including radar screens showing planes flying backwards) occur at the nearby Federal Aviation Administration control center in Longmont. These problems were confirmed by the FAA's regional headquarters in Seattle, which, like Westword, thought the tower was located at the airport. As for the radar, at last report it still wasn't working right.

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