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I have long been an avid newspaper reader but have never before felt compelled to write a letter to the newspaper.
Newspaper articles are written and placed in such a way as to attract the maximum attention and to increase sales of papers.
That is the way it is done in big cities where the faces are unfamiliar and apparently also in small communities where we should actually know each other.
With this knowledge, I take their content with “a grain of salt” and assume that all other thinking people do the same.
The one-sided reporting of a recent incident at Bowers Elementary involving Debbie Hayes has, however, motivated me to provide other readers with my knowledge of her good character.
The Rev. Jeff Jenkins has written a well-balanced evaluation of her teaching ability through his personal experience with his child. His letter was recently published in the Roane County News. Likewise, I want to share my personal knowledge of her character through my 55-year friendship with her.
Debbie was the first in her family to graduate from college. From the time her child was a few months old, she reared her as a single parent.
She lovingly cared for each of her parents through their extended illnesses.
She served many years as a CASA volunteer, providing a voice to the court for children identified by state social workers as being at risk for neglect or abuse.
She has ably nurtured and guided hundreds of kindergarten students for 38 years with no other incident.
None of us are perfect, but this is clearly not the record of a person that would have anything but the best of intentions when dealing with children.
Many friends, teachers and parents of former students have reached out with support for Debbie. They realize that this incident is not descriptive of her character or behavior.
The community and the press, as the Rev. Jenkins correctly observed, should “let our school system deal with incidents.”
Hopefully, future school administrators will learn from this situation and be able to provide cool professional resolutions.
Amanda D. Miller
Editor’s note: The Roane County News takes issue with the letter writer’s depiction of the news account as one-sided. Teacher Debbie Hayes was contacted and what she said was included in the story. Hayes also offered to meet with the reporter who wrote the story to talk more but, in spite of repeated calls, never did.