Retirement, Erin Brockovich, Richardson ISD, Yearbooks, Donate Life Month

Retire, do nothing, feel no guiltRe: "Nothing big, just retiring," by Jacquielynn Floyd, Tuesday Metro & State column.Two pretty good responses when a retiree is asked what they are doing these days, "Absolutely nothing and I don't start until noon," and "For the first time in a very long time, I can sleep every night until I'm done." Congratulations to Jacquielynn Floyd. There may be days when you don't feel like doing anything. Don't feel guilty. Just remember all of those 70- to 80-hour work weeks that you put in early in your career. Time to get even. You will be missed.Jeff Foster, CarrolltonPreparing for ordination at 85In response to Jacquielynn Floyd's retirement, at age 85 I'm half-way through a seven-course certificate program at an Episcopal seminary, preparing for ordination as an Anglican deacon and satisfying a life-long ambition toward the church. I've found a great community of spiritual friends with whom I hope to study for the rest of my days. I'm on the cutting-edge of online education and contending with computer technology that is culturally beyond me. In my parish, I'm a lay reader of Scripture and occasional Sunday school teacher,My life has been one of avoiding medical catastrophes. I was afflicted by kidney stones, survived two bouts of cancer and my mitral-valve repair is likely to project my life to my mid-90s.With liberal arts and law degrees, I don't need any more degrees nor a new career. I'm well-served with a shorter, cheaper, non-degree certificate program but with excellent teachers and dedicated fellow students. The course prepares me for ordination as a first-level clergyman and for teaching and caring for my congregation. Even as a student, I'm happy serving the Lord in any way that I physically or mentally can today.Frederick W. Fraley III, North DallasWho is stirring the mud?Re: "Just the Facts, Please — Activist should have checked her water claims," Tuesday EditorialsThanks for your editorial about Erin Brockovich's recent visit and address to Collin County residents. I hope The Dallas Morning News will present a few more facts on Brockovich's visit here. For instance, who summoned her to speak to Collin County residents? Who paid for her travel expenses? How much money did she receive and by whom was she compensated for her presentation? It looks like someone is trying to stir up mud in our local water supply. We'd like to know who it is, what's behind it, where the money came from and what they are trying to accomplish.Joseph Betts, RichardsonHere's what Richardson ISD has achievedRe: "Richardson ISD aims to close achievement gap," by James Ragland, March 22 Metro & State column, and "Richardson ISD, you're on the wrong side of this lawsuit," by James Ragland, March 12 Metro & State column.James Ragland's two recent commentaries casting aspersions on Richardson ISD are misguided. The first regarding the lack of minority school board candidates is ironic. He supports David Tyson, who has hired a lawyer known for seeking out this kind of issue. In fact, Tyson, an African-American, was elected twice to serve on the RISD school board. Since then, no African-American has run, which is the first step to being elected. It seems Tyson's energy would be better spent mentoring a candidate that he feels is qualified to have that position and not requiring RISD to potentially spend time and money to respond to the frivolous lawsuit, diverting from its focus on education. Ragland said there was a gap between Caucasian and minority achievement. I taught in RISD for 19 years and still substitute whenever possible. I am a firsthand witness to what RISD provides in order for all students to succeed: 1. It has offered the AVID program for at least 20 years for students whose parents do not have a college education. 2. It offers tutoring after school every Wednesday, including a second run of school buses so students can still have transportation. 3. Each teacher offers a minimum of three tutoring sessions before and after school in addition to listing tutoring hours by other teachers of the same subject. 4. The Peer Helpers program has been offered for over 25 years to help struggling students or those who feel marginalized or are new to the school. 5. Finally, this year all high school students have been issued laptop computers with their textbooks already loaded and including access to their teachers at all hours. The bottom line is that any student who puts forth the effort, who attends school, who listens in class and does the work has the ability to do well. I wish that Ragland could see what has been and is currently achieved in RISD and be proud of the school district in which he lives.Jane McCurdy, Dallas/Lake Highlands; RISD resident, parent of RISD graduates and former RISD teacherYearbook memorialsRe: "For yearbook staff, tragedy is part of story— Annual honors shooting victims, while also remembering normal days," Sunday news story.The article about the challenge of memorializing fallen fellow students in the high school yearbook brought back sad memories. In 1967, I was editor of the Texas High School yearbook in Texarkana. Our yearbook staff was tasked with memorializing Mark Gabour, a fellow student whose family unwittingly opened the door at the top of the tower at University of Texas in August 1966. Mark was the first person killed by sniper Charles Whitman in one of the first mass shootings in our country. Sadly, it was not the last. Yearbooks preserve many happy events but also, in some cases, document a loss of innocence for so many.Glenda Schill, QuitmanTurn tragedy into triumphApril is National Donate Life Month. Every day 20 people in the U.S. die waiting for an organ transplant. One organ donor can save eight lives.The Children's Organ Transplant Association was founded in April 1986 when Indiana residents rallied around a toddler who needed a life-saving transplant. In less than eight weeks, the community raised $100,000 to place the boy on the organ waiting list. Sadly he died before a liver was found. Those volunteers, along with his parents, turned tragedy into triumph by using those funds to help other transplant families.Since 1986, the association has assisted thousands of transplant families by helping to raise funds for transplant-related expenses. The organization has built extensive volunteer networks nationwide in an attempt to ensure that no child or young adult needing a life-saving transplant is excluded from a waiting list due to a lack of funds. Please become an organ donor today by going to DonateLife.net and registering in your state. You can do more by supporting a family in your area by visiting COTA.org and clicking on the Find a COTA Family box at the top of the page.Rick Lofgren, Indianapolis, President, Children's Organ Transplant Association  Continue reading...

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