To the Editor:

You created the perfect article yesterday [“A GOOD Wilton Teacher Story”] to put in perspective the very sad news about one teacher.

There are so many good teacher stories in our Wilton schools that a brief letter could not, of course, begin to do justice. But let me add to your wonderful illustration of your daughter’s Cider Mill teacher two specific observations from visits to Middlebrook over the month and one more general comment:

1. The annual 8th grade debate program took place last month and is extraordinary. Amazingly, every student in 8th grade participates. It only exists because of the vision and hard work of the teachers who run it (educators Andy Cloutier, Marni Kiernan, and Tim Ley) who not only organize and administer the program but also act as judges for each debate, issuing extemporaneous decisions at the same time as they invite the rest of the students who have been watching the debate unfold and have their own opinions to write them down and submit them as rebuttals to, or affirmations of, their teachers’ own decisions. The topics all involve constitutional law questions, and the students take the process very seriously. I can’t imagine a better way for students to learn how law is formulated in the crucible of actual cases and the decisions that flow from them. And I can’t imagine a better way to help students develop those public speaking skills that will be an important part of their lives in whatever direction their careers take them.

2. Educator Cat Hourigan arranged for her 7th grade classes to have Shakespeare presented to them in a very hands-on way by members of the highly regarded nonprofit, Shakesperience Productions. What they did with twenty students at a time was absolutely spellbinding even as it often had us all, young and this old folk alike, laughing and cheering! They enlisted class members as actors in scenes from Macbeth and King Lear, and they also discussed how verse works and how language evolves and words change meaning over both shorter and longer periods of time. It was quite an experience, and what a great way to bring Shakespeare, and English literature generally, to glorious life!

3. The music programs are absolutely extraordinary, and our educators in that field across all of our schools enrich our young people in ways that we all recognize and many of us realize take huge amounts of time and planning and require a commitment to excellence and support for our kids that is truly admirable. Their results over the years that I’ve lived in Wilton have included a highly regarded composer now, whose first major piece was performed by our high school orchestra when he was a senior; his career happened in significant part because of the encouragement he got from his teachers here. Those results also include, among other outstanding professionals, rising opera stars and also, and at least equally importantly, vocalists and instrumentalists of all stripes who find music an important part of their lives and got their inspiration for it from their teachers here. The same could be said, of course, for theater arts, visual arts, and so many other fields.

As you own article indicated, this all-too-short list is but the tip of a huge iceberg to which I hope you will find many of your readers adding their own experiences. Now is an excellent time to be holding up all that our educators here in Wilton do so faithfully and selflessly for the good of our kids. Thank you for leading the way!


Steve Hudspeth