May 16, 2007
Last Friday, I read the articles in the May 8 Deseret News and the May 7 Salt Lake Tribune about Gary Twitchell receiving the Huntsman award. I wish to add my congratulations to the long list of those who already have. Mr. Twitchell has worked hard to help bring us closer to compliance with "No Child Left Behind" and many other governmental edicts. He is very passionate about public education and wants students to succeed in the competitive global economy we live in. Gary has been good to me, selecting me as teacher of the month in the fall of 2005. He has been very generous with budget allocations for my program. He has been extremely supportive of my efforts to help raise test scores. He has given me much flexibility in my day-to-day work and has allowed me the freedom to take care of my duties as an agriculture education professional on the state and national level. I gratefully acknowledge him for these things.
I understand The Park Record ran a similar article, although I have not been able to locate and read it. I am a bit concerned with the general tone of the reports I had access to. I felt the D News implication concerning former administrators was excessively harsh and that the Trib took unnecessary cheap shots on our community traditions. One stated "he (Mr. Twitchell) was met with myriad challenges and concerns left by years of an attitude of complacency." As a teacher at South Summit for 29 years, I have some institutional knowledge and a historical prospective that those, who supplied information to the press, don’t seem to posses.
I knew and worked with Mike Matthews, Eric Moser, Doug Beer and Mark Littleford. Whatever they were, they were NOT complacent! We disagreed from time to time, but through it, remained loyal friends. They were champions of public education who were vigilant with the resources available to us to provide South Summit students with the best education those resources allowed. These men were hardworking and passionate about what they did. They fostered community involvement. They forever rearranged schedules and teacher assignments to meet changing conditions. They provided excellent in-service opportunities for faculty and staff. No one more then Doug Beer and Eric Moser cared for individual students’ well being. Mark Littleford was courageous and implemented innovative programs to improve our educational system. I have met few people who were more likable and had better people skills than Mike Matthews. As a friend and fellow educator I feel the need to mention these things in their defense. I am grateful that my wife and I were able to raise our three sons in a place where there is a sense of tradition and belonging, where many of America’s time-honored core values still exist. Our sons, by most standards, are successful, contributing members of our society. I attribute much of that success to being products of South Summit schools.
Congratulations Mr. Twitchell! Please keep up the good work. Thank you, Huntsmans, for this award. Perhaps those who gave the information to the press might consider an apology to these former administrators and the community of the Kamas Valley to be in order. Just as Mr. Twitchell is dealing with current political realities and educational fads, former school officials dealt with the political landscape of their time. All of us, myself more then anyone, need to be a bit more diplomatic with what we say and more appreciative of those who have gone before us.