Schools are back in session. As a small child, this was the highlight of the year. Even though the youngest of seven siblings, I was bored. I was also pretty excited to see my friends again. Besides, I actually liked my teachers — all nuns at a Catholic school in Colorado Springs.
After leaving Colorado Springs for Boulder while entering public junior high, it wasn’t quite as exciting.
It was a new town; I didn’t know any of the other students at the school; a big new facility stumped me; and a big public school for ninth grade after eight years in a small Catholic school brought on quite a reality check just as my parents’ divorce was going on. That precipitated the move in the first place.
Ninth grade was a bear. There were some behavior problems related to the move/divorce, etc., but let’s just say I was happy when ninth grade was over and it was on to Boulder High School.
I must add here that the drug scene in Colorado was probably at its peak in Boulder from 1968 to 1972, the years I was at Boulder High School.
I also must add here that the drug scene, while rampant in Boulder from the junior highs up to and past the University of Colorado, never played a major role in my high school career.
High school, each year on, got to be easier and yet was less enjoyable. As with most teens, I was anxious in my senior year to move on and put all the public schools behind me and either go to college or get on with life.
I made a big mistake.
While I found a job in journalism, following the start-up of a high school newspaper in Boulder from 1968 to graduation in 1971, I postponed the college education, a mistake I learned later was bigger than I thought it would be at the time.
I had decided to take that proverbial year off with plans to return later.
I returned two years later and I wasn’t the least bit interested in doing much studying at Mesa College (the last year it was a two-year college). After that one year, it was back to the real world and real jobs.
I made the mistake of waiting two years, and I know a number of folks who never did go back — all to their regret.
I was fortunate to find a journalism job in Aspen that eventually evolved into my becoming a managing editor in 1974. That newspaper career, actually started in 1968, has held me aloft for 46 years, working at papers ranging from the smallest, here in Meeker/Rangely, to the Casper Star-Tribune, with a circulation in excess of 51,000 at its peak, which was when I was there in the early 1980s — during the first big oil boom.
But I was lucky, having started when I did. It wasn’t quite as important in 1968 to have a college degree although a high school degree was a necessity.
Now, many years later, I would truly tell any student to stay with the education as long as is tolerable and to pay attention in class because you just might learn something.
Sound pretty cliché?
I would have thought so, too.
Now, looking back, I wish I had paid better attention.
I wish I had gone right after high school to college, where the pattern I had learned and expected would continue. Returning after two years of “the real world” was tough. Really tough.
School is a routine, and to break that routine is to make your education much tougher to continue or complete.
But now, as an experienced adult, I can assure all that the one regret I have is that I didn’t listen more closely.
I feel pretty good about most subjects I did take. But also as an adult who has been very fortunate to have lived around many parts of the West from Northwest Arkansas to extremely Northern California, I wish I had listened better. I wish I had taken better advantage of that education.
The information I gleaned from my education as been most useful.
But it is tough to look back and not remember all the information I was taught.
It would have made my education more fulfilling, my life experiences more enjoyable and my conversational skills more broad.
Take advantage of your education, I would tell the students of today.
If you don’t understand something — then ask the teacher to explain it to you. No question is a stupid question when it comes to understanding something, and that is perhaps the biggest lesson I learned in journalism.
It is easier to learn the first time through then to go back years later and try again. A solid education is without a doubt the key to good employment, with the farther you go in college usually meaning the farther you will go in life and, let’s face it, the income is much better on the average.
An education is a bad thing to waste.
And I cannot emphasize anything more than to say: the better education the better your personal, financial and social lives will be. Take advantage — full advantage — of that education.
Listen, students, and take advantage of your learning as the you enter another year of education. Education never stops, so why not take advantage of it now?
It will pay off for everyone involved — particularly you, the students.
Pity the person who asks a journalist what their opinion is about something because, chances are, they have an opinion on everything. As an editor, it is part of the job to have an opinion. That’s why there are opinion pages.
So pity those who have asked me point blank with I thought of the situation between the Meeker School District and Dr. Robert Dorsett.
I am not afraid to say, but it needs to be taken as “just another opinion out there.” As we know, everyone has an opinion and, in this case as with many others, there are valid opinions on both sides of nearly all issues.
I started out completely on Dr. Bob’s side of the issue, particularly since he has had special or “edited” contracts before — within the Meeker School District. Apparently he is not alone.
Dr. Bob and I got off on the wrong foot with each other shortly after I moved to Rio Blanco County, and I would not say the first time we actually met was overly cordial.
We met each other repeatedly after that and dealt with each other on a basis of respect — saying hello, discussing only what we had to and dealing with the other on a professional basis.
I heard people say some things about Dr. Bob along the lines of “It’s either Dr. Bob’s way or the highway,” or “He’s very smart but you don’t want to disagree with him.”
OK. I’ve known others like that.
For some reason, I got to where I liked Dr. Bob. Yes, he is not lacking in self-esteem, but that is all right with those who know what they are talking about.
Dr. Bob did seem pretty smart. OK. I can live with that.
But what really got me thinking was to hear from the current students and Meeker High School graduates about what a great teacher he is and how much they like him.
When I first heard about his request, under a new administration at the high school and within the Meeker School District, for a different or edited contract, I didn’t see a problem with it since he has been doing this for years.
But things do change. The new king (and, in this case, queen) has taken over the kingdom and set the new rules; all of his prerogative and in his power.
“There will be no special contracts,” he decreed. And he has a right to do that.
He was supported by the queen and the Cabinet, although they were not unanimous in the unanimity.
All the while, I was hoping that Dr. Bob would prevail — for the sake of the students. I have never met a teacher yet who was irreplaceable, but Dorsett came about as close as possible.
Then, at the last meeting, it became immediately clear that the “special” or “edited” contract wasn’t going to happen.
(Remember that Dorsett wanted a contract that would have removed MHS Principal Kim Ibach as his supervisor, and he also wanted contractual protection from a hostile workplace, saying that he had filed a complaint with the king that had gone nowhere.)
I also heard a charge made by one of the board members at the meeting on Monday of last week that “several” of the returning instructors at MHS had voiced to her that they don’t like working with Dr. Bob.
I don’t believe that statement at all. And while those teachers who are returning that I have spoken with denied they had said they didn’t like working with Dr. Bob, they were pretty vehement that they did not like the idea of his asking for or receiving a “special” or “edited” contract. They don’t want to see him or any other teacher get special treatment.
I agree with them. It isn’t fair.
During that Monday meeting, it eventually became obvious that negotiating with Dorsett wasn’t going to happen.
It was suggested that Dorsett sign the standard district contract and that: 1. The king would intervene between Ibach and Dorsett and have them try and work out their disagreements; or, 2. that the king would encourage Dorsett to immediately file a formal and followed-up grievance with the district and that he would make certain the complaint is followed up.
It became clear at that point to everyone there that Dorsett could and would return to MHS if he agreed to either of those proposals, and that he would not be back at MHS this year if didn’t sign the standard contract.
Silence prevailed for few moments before Dorsett turned down the offer.
Everyone there, I believe, knew then that it was a dead issue.
The school board, the superintendent and the principal didn’t win. Dr. Dorsett didn’t win.
It is a shame that the future students at MHS are the losers.
But it is tough to argue against the belief and reality in this case that those in power will prevail.
Dr. Bob believed in what he did. The school board and administrators did what they felt they had to do.
Life does go on!