Tahlequah Daily Press

November 14, 2012

Focus on education


TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

When I became an educator more than 35 years ago, I had no idea the amount of joy and fulfillment it would bring to my life.

Helping guide children to their full potential and watching them reach for the stars has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. It is truly an amazing experience to watch a student grow in knowledge and understanding.

What I didn’t anticipate when I became an educator was that others in similar positions wouldn’t share my appreciation and awe of this learning process.

When Principal Chief Bill John Baker approached me about taking the reins of Sequoyah Schools, I was ecstatic. The day I became superintendent in July, I expected many challenges ahead of me, and I welcomed them because of my love for educating young people. A challenge that I did not expect was the disruption, sabotage and blatant character assassination of me and my staff by my predecessor.

Geary Don Crofford, former dean of academics at Sequoyah, has been a regular in the local opinion pages. He has tried his hardest to destroy Sequoyah, a school that he supposedly loved during his tenure here. Not surprisingly, I very much doubt his dedication to the school he allegedly cared so much about. Given the venom he spews regularly to the media and to people all over this community, it’s clear that Mr. Crofford never cared about Sequoyah Schools, rather serving himself and his own self-interests.

I have kept quiet, because my main concern is not self-promotion. My main concern is our students, their education and their well-being. But Mr. Crofford’s relentless and very vocal campaign has begun to affect our pupils. His destructive attacks on our school are threatening the positive and caring school environment we try so hard to foster. To put self-interest above the well-being of young people is a travesty, and it is deeply shameful.

If Geary Don Crofford thinks he is hurting me, my staff or Principal Chief Baker, he is sorely mistaken. This “scorched earth” policy he seems to be employing only serves to hurt our young people. While I find his actions appalling, dishonorable and disgraceful, there is no hate in my heart for Mr. Crofford. That energy is better spent focusing on why I became an educator: to better the lives of our children and protect their educational endeavors from those who seek to harm that process.

I hope that Mr. Crofford will one day do the same.

Leroy Qualls, superintendent

Sequoyah Schools