Mrs. Juntti was my first and second grade teacher in a small Finnish community in northern Wisconsin. My mother was too busy working on our farm to read to me. I still remember, after 66 years, the sheer delight of listening to stories read to us by Mrs. Juntti.
One of my favorite stories was Horton Hatches an Egg by Dr. Seuss. The lesson in the story (an elephant sitting on an egg abandoned by the mother bird) reminds me to be faithful and persevere despite the challenging conditions surrounding me. The faithfulness of Horton and his perseverance have been guiding forces throughout my life.
Mrs. Juntti gave me the gift of literacy. She inspired me to become a life-long learner. She challenged me to be a problem solver. She lit up each day with music and art. She inspired me to love my country and honor the achievements of those who came before us.
I will be forever grateful to Mrs. Juntti and the powerful teachers I had. I will forever be grateful to the people of Maple who believed in public education knowing that a strong public education supports our communities and our democracy
My mom had to quit school after eighth grade to go to work to help support her family who were poor farmers. My dad quit school even earlier because his dad died and he had to go to work to support his family. We didn’t have books, but we always had several newspapers in the home. I am grateful to my parents who wanted a better life for their children.
We must now carry the torch to assure the present generation and future generations have equal access to a high quality public education.
Here are some suggestions:
***Send a monetary contribution to your local public school. As we know, public schools are facing cuts and a monetary gift to the snack fund, music fund, art fund, library fund, etc. is greatly appreciated
Send a thank you note to the teachers, administrators, staff, bus drivers, custodians, and others. As school begins, it is time to encourage all staff and recognize their contributions to our children.
***Volunteer at your local school.
***Attend school board meetings. Show your support and concern for our public schools and the work that they do.
***Run for school board. Support those who are running.
***Write letters to the editor.
***Create and/or join a local group to advocate for public schools in your area. SOS Support Our (Public) Schools is a movement that needs to be replicated in other areas of the state.
Support the Wisconsin Public Education Network and the work they are doing to raise awareness of what is happening to education in Wisconsin.
***Continue to contact the legislators and the governor. It has been very discouraging to know that “we the people” are being ignored, but we cannot give up.