I am a parent of two Fred P. Hall Elementary School students in Portland. Both of my daughters (ages 7 and 10) are in the Many Rivers program, a wonderful alternative learning program that started in 1986.

I am writing to publicly acknowledge how important it is for a child to have consistency in their education and the kind of teacher who can make a real difference in their lives.

When Kelly Fernald took on her multi-age (grades 3, 4 and 5) classroom at Hall last year, she had big shoes to fill. Then, one week into the year, Hall had a fire and everyone was moved to Cathedral School as a temporary home.

This incident challenged the patience of even the most experienced teachers at the school, but Kelly kept rolling with the transitions, a smile on her face, and took it all in stride.

At the end of the year, her position was eliminated because of the budget. 

I know there is now an opportunity to open up some of the eliminated positions, and I am writing this letter in hopes that whomever does the hiring for Portland Public Schools will be able to see the wisdom in sticking with a great teacher and allow Kelly Fernald to resume her post as a Many Rivers 3/4/5 teacher for the coming year.

I know our newly minted fifth-grader would be ecstatic, as well as all of her classmates and any student in the future who would be so lucky to have a teacher who really cares about their students like Kelly does.

James Leavitt
Portland

State’s first charter school outshines Baxter Academy

The woes of Baxter Academy stand in stark contrast to the success of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences.

The former has had fits and starts in an effort to open its doors this fall. The latter has successfully made the transition from the Good Will-Hinckley Home for Boys & Girls to Maine’s first charter school.

In the same two-year period, Baxter has replaced its founder/executive director, scaled down its enrollment plan and fought criticism for hosting a Heritage Policy Center luncheon.

By contrast, the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences just celebrated its first graduation of students who previously stood on the lower periphery of traditional education. 

Is Daniel Amory (“Maine Voices: Baxter Academy controversy does nothing to meet students’ needs,” Aug. 2) correct in asking us to support a STEM school in Portland? I respectfully disagree.

Though Mr. Amory shared his allegiances and premise to improve Maine’s education, he overstepped his bounds in the Press Herald in saying that questioning Baxter Academy’s decisions is misplaced. While differentiated learning and project-based problem solving are important to support student achievement, cramming an ill-advised charter school into Portland is not the answer.

Sen. Justin Alfond was right to support the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, identified by U.S. News & World Report as the 13th best high school in the nation. The magnet school’s location, selectivity and success speak volumes as to appropriate school choice with public-state support.

Though Mr. Amory accurately states Maine “provides no money for startup or capital costs,” the tone of his address suggests readers should not only unite behind Baxter’s mission but also support it financially without question.

This reader and current Maine taxpayer suggests that while Rufus Deering Lumber Co. will benefit from leasing and renovating 54 York St., the vast majority of the city’s and state’s constituents will not. I hope the Press Herald will continue its inquiry into this issue.

Darren L. Redman
Long Island

Nemitz fails to grasp reasons to grieve, repent for abortion

I was intrigued by Bill Nemitz’s column on abortion protesters (” ‘A Christian does not need therapy,’ ” Aug. 2). Anti-abortion activism garners little coverage in your paper. I hoped that this column would change that.

Unfortunately, I learned nothing about the anti-abortion world and quite a lot about Nemitz’s world.

In Nemitz’s world, having an abortion is no different from having your wisdom teeth removed.

In Nemitz’s world, everything is just fine, except when one’s personal autonomy or entitlements is limited. Only then does a major crisis erupt.

In Nemitz’s world, painfully wrong choices don’t exist. It’s always circumstances or someone else’s fault. It is a sterile world — bereft of sin, grace, repentance and renewal. These all are essential ingredients to this thing called “life”!

In Nemitz’s world, principled stands are appropriate only when convenient and agreeable. Otherwise, they are “psychological.”

Nemitz’s world is a “pro-choice” world, but you hear only about his choice. So it’s really a “no-choice” world.

The women profiled in the article have experienced a cycle of bad decisions, misfortunes, their consequences and the resulting guilt — followed by repentance and (ultimately) renewal. We each encounter it in our own unique way. There is no immunity. The world is a painful and difficult place, where most of our important life lessons are learned “the hard way.”

JulieAnn Heinrich (“Maine Voices: Protesters outside abortion clinic are forgetting their lessons in kindness,” Aug. 7) introduced Jesus into the conversation. Jesus loved sinners, but he never loved sin. Many of his parables (the wicked tenants — Luke 20:9, the talents — Matthew 25:11, and others) reveal a God of judgment, as well as kindness.

In John 8:11, Jesus tells the condemned adulteress: “Neither do I (condemn you); go, and from now on sin no more.”

We all fall down, and when we do, we need a way out. Nemitz’s world doesn’t offer one.

Kirk Duffy
Portland

Gun wouldn’t have helped, bear attack survivor says

Being the victim of the recent polar bear attack in Newfoundland, I read Chris Deile’s Aug. 6 letter with interest (“Non-lethal policy favors bears“).  

Contrary to Deile’s suggestion, the fact my party was unarmed had no bearing on the attack. Even if I had had an AK-47 in my tent, I never would have had time to use it. I was saved by a lot of good luck and brave companions.

When the Torngat Park was created, I believe the Inuit requested that only they be able to carry firearms in the park. One can only assume they were concerned that hot-headed pistoleros would wind up decimating the bear population.

If you are afraid of venturing out in the wild (or to the movies or shopping center) without a gun, just please stay home.

Matt Dyer
Montreal General Hospital patient
Turner resident