Betsy Chase: Forgive Dr. D
I would like to share my experiences working directly with John DeVincentis for eight years at Strawberry Park Elementary School and indirectly with him for more than eighteen years.
First let me say that I understand the concern around John’s comments, which were recently published in the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
I am equally concerned about the Pilot & Today’s judgment in publishing those comments (public record or not) and even more concerned about the recent public lynching of John. I do not believe any member of our community deserves to be maligned to the degree John has been this past week, and I am disappointed that some in our community have been so vigilant in their public condemnation of him.
During the years I taught under John’s leadership, I witnessed a most hard-working, dedicated, intelligent and creative leader. John’s car was in the school parking lot most mornings by 6:30 a.m. and was still there at 7 p.m. (or later) many nights. The same was true on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to carrying out the many routine administrative responsibilities of a principal, a typical day for John included frequent visits to classrooms, regular attendance at special education staffings (where he completed the IEP record-keeping – a loathsome task), lunch with small groups of students every Friday, and continual daily efforts to insure the best possible education for every one of the students in his building. He was devoted to unlocking new and better methods for reaching each varied learner, be that learner “average,” “learning disabled” or “gifted/talented.”
He implemented multi-aged and multi-graded classrooms and worked diligently with his teachers to make these educational strategies a success. He knew the name of every student in his building and can still greet them by name many years later. During my 25 years teaching in public schools and eight years instructing at the University of Colorado, I have not known a finer administrator than John DeVincentis. To lose his valuable expertise and input to our school system would be a sad loss.
I urge the Pilot & Today and our community to forgive John for a harmful mistake and let the “Dr. D” who has given so much continue to make our school district a better one.
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Work to form a new strategic plan for the Steamboat Springs School District will start next week with the first sessions of a listening tour aimed at getting broad community feedback.