On the short, sweet life of Liesl Wiebe


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“Liesl, hol deine haube, es ist Zeit zu gehen!”

(Liesl, get your bonnet, it’s time to go! )

Liesl Wiebe grabbed her flower covered bonnet and tied it around her chin. The charming seven year old scampered across the gravel covered driveway and jumped into the buggy.

“Mutter, kann ich das Baby halten?”

(Mother, can I hold the baby?)

The sturdy Mennonite family fit snugly into the buggy as Poppa Tobias hitched up the horse. It was a sunny morning in Montcalm County, and the Wiebe family was going to church.

Baby Hannah fussed as mother Wiebe adjusted her cheerful pinafore and scolded four year old Luther for unbuttoning his suspenders.

“Liesl, hilf deinem Bruder mit seiner Kleidung. Binde seine schuhe! “

(Liesl, help your brother with his clothing. Tie his shoes!)

Liesl’s cheerful spirit and sunny smile shone in everything she did. She happily took her younger brother’s hand and guided him through tying his sensible shoes.

“Let’s use English words Luther. Hold your laces- the bunny goes around the tree and down the hole, now pull it tight! I’m going to tuck in your shirt now, let’s button you back up, and don’t take them out again!”

Three year old Luther looked adoringly at his capable sister, and snuggled against her in the crowded buggy. Poppa Tobias climbed into the seat, and soon he and his large family were on their way to services. He glanced back at the smiling Liesl, and thanked God again for giving him seven children, seven blessings, seven Gifts from the Lord. Liesl was special, always seemed to be cheerful, ready with a smile or a happy word for the rest of the bunch. Poppa Tobias smiled inwardly. Life was good.

Claude and I chatted in the rental car as we made our way across Montcalm county. This was old stomping grounds for him, he had fifty years of history in this lovely farm country. The colors were still on the trees, a spate of warm weather had made the glorious fall longer lasting than usual.

Lovely fields of verdant winter wheat carpeted the area, bracketed by stands of yellowed corn. Honestly, I thought, this is the breadbasket of the area. Farmers truly are people to know if things go south.

I had just come from a lovely breakfast at the farmhouse of one of Claude’s cousins. Elizabeth was a talented seamstress, and married to Michael, an accomplished taxidermist. They travelled all over the world gathering the skins of the most interesting animals.Together they had raised a crew of four boisterous boys, at the same time dotting the country with her husband Michael’s amazing creations. Exotic animals from all over the world decorated Michael’s studio. Springbok, moose, wolves, and even an enormous giraffe stood guard over their work, and I was amazed at yet another part of the world I knew nothing about.

Claude and I advanced on a local farmhouse, when he noticed something out of the ordinary.

“Wait, wait, what’s going on here? There’s a car down! There are bodies on the ground!” He pulled hastily to the side of the road as my attention to the scene materialized.

A damaged red truck. Ford, F-250, shattered windshield.

A distressed man, clad in work clothes and a safety vest, telephone in hand.

A shattered Mennonite buggy, with yes, several bodies scattered haphazardly on the roadside and in the grass.

Claude- leaping out of the car, the driver of the truck running to him “I didn’t see them! I didn’t see them! ”

Claude, getting the phone and completing the 911 emergency call.

“Lord Jesus, please help us and comfort these children!” I stood, astounded for a few minutes. I counted eight bodies, two adults and six children.

“Airways! Airways! Airways!” I ran to the nearest body, an adult woman. She was breathing, barely.

I went to the man. Breathing, bubbling blood.

I checked the children. Gasp. One was dead, she had to be. Motionless, ruined beyond repair.

Another, undoubedly. Far, far too much damage.

A slight boy, sitting on the ground, a four inch gaping head wound showing his skull. Astoundingly, he was beginning to walk around aimlessly, shrieking at the top of his lungs. He’ll live.

Four other children lay scattered on the ground. A seven year old girl in a flowered bonnet. Two preschool age boys, in plain clothing and suspenders. A tiny baby, eighteen months old at best.

I checked the girl, barely breathing, heart fluttering, blue lips. The other three children were responsive, so I hovered over the girl.

She was breathing, breathing, barely breathing. She had a heartbeat. I prayed over the little one, holding her head in a neutral position, watching the air raise her lungs, watching her face slowly pale.

EMS descended and a capable young man went the girl in the flowered bonnet.

“She’s cynanotic. She’s blue. I don’t think we are going to make it here. ” He attended her while I went to the other three children.

I watched the buzz of activity with the two of the three younger children on my lap.  and Luther Wiebe wept while Petr lay on the ground under my jacket. A large, capable EMS man gently assessed Petr for breathing, and set him up with breathing assistance.

I sang to Luther. Chattered at baby Hannah. Helped them both stay alert and watched Claude coordinate with EMS. Men in plain clothes began to arrive in cars, Claude had the distressing task of breaking this terrible news to the local Mennonite community.

Soon, a kind-faced EMS man told me to hold tight to both of the children, it was about to get very windy.

I looked behind me and several people, some in plain clothing, had made circle in the grassy field behind me. The trauma chopper beat the air above, and I sheltered the little ones against the turbulent air. Poppa Tobias was bundled into the chopper and taken away.

As the chopper lifted, I glanced over at the girl. Liesl Wiebe, the girl in the flowered bonnet, was covered with a blanket. She had just died, just passed into the arms of Jesus as her father flew away into the sky.

God bless you, Liesl Wiebe, 2010-2017. Rejoice in Paradise, dear child of God. 

(Author’s note.  At 8am, Sunday, October 29th, a red F-250 rear ended a Mennonite buggy in Montcalm County. The truck was going around sixty, the buggy about 15 mph. My boyfriend and I are visiting family here, and were the first on the scene, mere minutes after it happened. I have never been involved in a mass casualty event. This was, bar none, the most heartbreaking occurrence I have ever seen first hand. Of course, all of the identifying information has been changed. Please, if you think of it, ask God for comfort for the ‘Wiebes’. And please, pay attention when  you drive.) 

Heartbroken,

Victoria

 

 

 

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The Corruption of the Jefferson County Board of Education: The Mind Boggles


Well, Jeffco Visitors and interested passers-by, I have got a doozy for you. Anyone following this dirty and torrid recall drama knows that the “Clean Slate BOE” recently refused to renew Dan McMinimee’s contract. (McMinimee was the superintendent my brother, John Newkirk and the other  conservative board members hired during their short-lived tenure.)

The “Clean Slate” BOE stated that there were no quarrels with McMinimee’s performance, rather the ‘process by which he was hired’. They then proceeded to use the same search firm the previous board did, jack up the new super’s wage by $80K, and basically launch an identical process to hire a new super. (McMinimee’s wage was $220k, the wage for the new super will be $300K.)

Exasperated yet? You should be. Suspicious yet? I certainly hope so. Something is going on in the wings here, friends, and here is something you should see.

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As you can see, this is a recent copy of correspondence from the “Clean Slate” gang.

The issue doesn’t matter, and the recipient doesn’t matter, so they’ve been redacted.

See who is our listed as our superintendent? Cindy Stevenson. The super who led our district into the depths of mediocrity? Cindy Stevenson. The “Every Jeffco kid to college” superintendent? Cindy Stevenson. The anti-charter and anti-Warren Tech superintendent? Cindy Stevenson. The one who quit under the WNW leadership? The one who had endless, endless allegations of backroom bargaining to unions,  payoffs to friends, and utter disregard for achievement of students in Jeffco? THAT Cindy Stevenson?

The anti-charter and trade school talking  point especially gets me, Visitors. Most of you know I have four kids, and three were firmly in or graduating from college last year. Daughter #4 spent her senior year in a marvelous EMT program at Warren Tech., Jeffco’s trade school.

Stevenson let funding  for Warren Tech languish, and Evergreen High School lost it’s building trade program. Thanks to my brother, John Newkirk, and the conservative board, Conifer got a building trades  program, but Warren Tech still struggles for funds.

Not every kid NEEDS to go to college, Visitors. I’m sure that is clear to you. These days, building and technical trades pay just as well, sometimes better, than the college-educated ones. We can see that, but the pre-WNW leadership could not. Thus, the voters rightly elected a board that would address the needs of ALL Jeffco kids. This union manipulated group is back to lining the pockets of the adults.

So, it looks like your opinions here really don’t matter. Did you fill out that “Community Input” survey regarding a new superintendent?  Waste of time. Go to a board meeting and give feedback about a ‘new super?’ Silly of you.

Instead, understand clearly, just who is making these decisions for you.

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Check this out. The arrow in the first picture is pointing to Wendy McCord, the disgraced attorney who lied to us with the Jeffco United organization. Remember that? The organization that she swore was ‘parent driven’. A judge FORCED McCord to disclose her funding stream, and 99% of the funds for Jeffco United came from various teachers unions.  Wendy McCord=Documented Liar. (Blog post here, “The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord”, “The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord, 2.0”)

Note the man in blue, and how delighted he obviously is to see Wendy. That’s John Ford, Union Boss, head of the Jefferson County Teacher’s Association. The woman on the right is Tina Gurdikian, Wendy McCord’s accomplice in the deceitful, successful recall that elected this mess.

So, let’s inventory. Ford and McCord have reason to be delighted. The Jeffco board is closing FIVE high-need schools for the stated reason of increasing teacher compensation. (Jeffco  already lands in the top 1/3) of wages statewide). Achievement continues to languish in Jeffco, charts like this one are endless.

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Letting go of a perfectly fine superintendent in order to REHIRE the one who quit under the recalled board, with zero attention to the dismal achievement of Jeffco kids, as shown above. This lack of achievement is rightly laid at Cindy’s feet. Now, by all appearances, she is our new super, again. Mad yet?

This district is a squalid, torrid, corrupt mess. Charter School parents? Hold on to your hats, it’s going to get worse. Tech school parents? For heavens sake, sound off.

All the rest of us? Hang on to your disgust, remember in November, and vote your power back. Jeffco kids depend on it.

If at all possible? #FleeJeffcoSchools, it’s the only choice left.

 

 

 

The Unshockable Electorate: Corruption In the Jeffco Board Of Education? #NotAnotherDimeJeffco


Visitors, I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about what it would take to make evil repulsive again.

It was an interesting concept, from an interesting man- Code name “Swede”.  Swede and I are like most of you, very concerned about the moral freefall our country has found itself in during this election season.

It seems as if NOTHING is repulsive anymore. Hillary Clinton a liar about national secrets? Phht. Pilferer of her own ‘charitable’ foundation? Big deal. Arguably a murderer of our own citizens in Benghazi? Yawn. (That Benghazi has not raised national ire simply astonishes me)

Donald Trump a selfish, shady businessman? Who cares! An abusive pig who treats women like objects, on camera? What of it? A man with no moral compass, leading what used to be the most moral nation on earth? Truly, truly alarming.

Swede, like me, found himself nonplussed. How could we, hobbyist authors, get a message of shock and concern to you, the unshockable electorate?

It’s a matter of focus.

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Remember this picture, Visitors? The so-called Clean Slate Gang. This group, the current Jeffco Board of Ed, was inserted by a campaign funded entirely by various teacher’s unions, all the while claiming to be parent-driven. This board instituted closed door meetings. Drastically curtailed parent input. Made unilateral budget choices. Ignored the achievement ghetto that is Jeffco- God help if you are a poor child of color or a special needs kid with this gang.

(For reference and fact checking, search the #NotAnotherDimeJeffco on this blog, The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord, parts One and Two, and Education/Local Politics in the search bar above).

This gang has run out the surplus my brother, John Newkirk and the other recalled members developed. They have paid off the Jeffco Teacher’s Union with unmerited bonuses as a reward after the recall election. They have sat for a full calendar year of catastrophic achievement failure, which can be fairly laid at their feet. (See the previous column for the dismal achievement statistics that define Jeffco).

Most importantly, they are counting on the ignorance of you, Jeffco Visitors, to support this unprecedented money grab that is the Jeffco Bond Issue.

Focus on just the money with me, Visitors. This single aspect of this issue is very, very easy to understand.

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Meet Steve Bell, Jefferson County Schools Chief Operations Officer. Bell is the chief architect of this bond issue, which is run on the idea that Jeffco needs nearly a BILLION dollars to fix crumbling schools.

A chief operations officer is the one who is in charge of building projects. Bell has written bids to replace boilers, repave parking lots, replace concrete, roofs, and ‘general upgrades’. Are you tracking with me, Visitors? This is pretty easy to understand. We have school buildings, and school buildings fairly need to be maintained.

Here’s the stumper, friends. How often has Mr. Bell written an accurate bid in his 12 year plus tenure at Jeffco?

Never.

Not once has Steve Bell ever written an accurate bid for a building project in Jeffco. Never.

Anyone (like me, and most of you) who has even gotten a bid for a construction job knows that these things can be fluid. Fair enough, how far off would you allow, Visitors? If you got a bid for paving your driveway, would you accept a five percent variation? Ten? What would you allow?

Mr. Bell’s overruns have hit over TWO HUNDRED PERCENT, Visitors. Process that. What if you needed a new water heater in your house, and got a bid for six grand. After it was installed, you got a bill for twelve thousand? Would you stand for it?

Stick with me please, Visitors, be the informed electorate.  Here is a copy of a public document written by John detailing these STAGGERING overages-

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-31-07-pmscreen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-31-29-pmLeslie Dahlkemper, one of the previous board members called Bell a ‘financial wizard’ who was ‘excellent’ at his job, and castigated John for insisting on accountability. What on earth is going on? Why is this financial incompetence accepted, even encouraged by the Jeffco BOE?

Visitors, I get why you’d be wearied of all of this. I certainly am. But, reasonable people that we are, we must consider the answers. There are only two.

  1. The Jeffco BOE is incompetent. They don’t know what they are doing. They encourage incompetence like Mr. Bell’s, they are not to be trusted with any more of our money.
  2. The Jeffco BOE is corrupt. These incredible, unaccounted for overages are going somewhere. To who? Jeffco BOE friends? Unaccounted-for payoffs for election advantages? Illicit payments for personal enrichment? Where?

Shawna Fritzler writes for the pro-union Support Jeffco Schools page, and refuses to answer these questions of accountability. Wendy McCord, who foisted this current board on us in a successful crusade of lies and deceit, will not address this issue either.

Therefore, it is up to us, Visitors. It is up to us to stand up and be counted, stand up and demand accountability for our children and vote NO on 3A and 3B. We must get answers.

#NotAnotherDimeJeffco.

Respectfully,

Victoria

What Happens To An Incompetent Teacher at Jeffco? Sadly, Very Little. #NotAnotherDimeJeffco


Visitors, last month I published a column detailing the flagrant incompetence of two teachers that my children had to endure at Evergreen Senior High.

That column has netted me several ugly comments, a couple of near threats, and several anonymous, cowardly, lying reviews on Google regarding my early childhood facility, Evergreen Academy.

Regarding the comments, well, words have consequences, but if criticizing me for writing the truth is all you can do, then have at it. Regarding the threats? My course of graduate study could not have been better timed. I’m studying Criminology and Behavioral Deviance at a local university, and a very good name for the McCord-Fritzler-Kwasny crowd (who I am certain are behind the words) is “deviants”. It gives me great joy to now possess the digital forensic tools to track down these criminals, especially if they choose to escalate their behavior beyond harassing me. Wendy McCord, Shawna Fritzler, Scott Kwasny, Michael Blanton, Tina Gurdikian? I’m warning you off, so behave yourself.

Regarding the deceitful attacks through Google reviews? After my brother, John Newkirk, had the safety of his children and family threatened in Evergreen, I stopped being amazed at the lengths this crowd will stoop force their agenda on the Jeffco public. Evergreen Academy isn’t bulletproof, nothing is, but it’s a place full of love, kindness and skilled care for the youngest and most vulnerable in Evergreen. Keep up the lying reviews, anti-reformers, and you’ll likely find yourself at the mercy of a crowd of young parents who love what we do at EA.

Now, to the topic at hand. I’d like you to lean in with me here, Visitors, this is a little complicated, but I have faith in you. Colorado recently enacted a teacher effectiveness law, Senate Bill 191, in an effort to address teacher effectiveness.

In Jefferson County, new teachers are hired on a ‘probationary’ status for three years. Their contracts are year to year, and at the end of each year they can be dismissed for any reason allowed by law.

(For us civilians, that means that budget issues, student shifts, or poor fashion choices could lead to a dismissal during the three ‘probationary years’. Virtually any reason.) According to this law, probationary teachers must have three ‘effective’ evaluations to be considered for tenure.

“Ineffective” evaluations can be appealed, often at Union expense. You can appeal a poor evaluation and keep your job, and this can take months.

So, it hangs on the evaluations. Here’s where it gets interesting, Visitors. According to Senate Bill 191, HALF of the evaluation has to be based on student achievement. Seems reasonable, no? You are rated on all kinds of things: lesson planning, classroom structure, classroom conduct, can you play nice in the sandbox with other staff, and ARE YOUR STUDENTS MASTERING YOUR MATERIAL. Are they even close? Are they making progress from the beginning of the year to the end?

You have three years, THREE, to prove that you know your craft. Regarding effectiveness, achievement scores are NOT available to be included in your annual evaluation. Why is that? Generally, because the scores are returned to schools in July, long after ratings are completed. So, principals and fellow teachers who rate you, do NOT include effectiveness in your scores, even though they are required to by law. Here’s why that should concern you greatly.

jeffco-math-csap-tcap-2014

Where is the emphasis on achievement? Where?! Jeffco has 87,000 of our children, and is UTTERLY ineffective in teaching them math. Grade schoolers, (my favorite population and area of specialty) start out well, likely because of their natural eagerness to learn. Please, Visitors, I’m pleading with you, note the terrible, precipitous drop by high school.

How will we advance? How will our children gain the technology oriented skills they must have without foundational math? Reading and science scores are similarly terrible.

By tenth grade, FAR less than half of our children are NOT proficient in math. Where else can we look besides disinterested teachers? Yet, out of 4,700 teachers in Jeffco, not ONE teacher will lose their tenure do to ineffective teaching. (http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2016/07/14/denver-public-schools-set-to-strip-nearly-50-teachers-of-tenure-protections-after-poor-evaluations/#.V_AUGJMrJE5)

Cheryl Manning is safe.

Dave Myers will keep his job.

Effective teachers, of which there are many, will continue to get lost in a crowd of disinterested, lectern-pounding, ineffective teachers who will keep their jobs until retirement. This must stop.

Again, Visitors, this is just exhausting. Jeffco is a mess.

Here’s what you can do, in fact, this is the only moral thing you can do.

DON’T VOTE FOR THE JEFFCO BOND ISSUE #NOTANOTHERDIMEJEFFCO

VOTE NO! This is a 565$ Million dollar ask for a system that is completely broken, disinterested in student achievement and thoroughly infested with corruption and inefficiency. More on that later.

IT REALLY IS A BILLION DOLLARS

You must, simply must, demand that Jeffco do its job, and that is to educate! This bond issue will take ONE BILLION DOLLARS to repay, while student achievement will continue to decline.

This simply makes no sense. Demand it, visitors. Demand accountability.

We owe it to our kids.

Much respect,

Victoria

Evergreen Senior High: The Good, The Bad, The Completely Unacceptable


#NotAnotherDimeJeffco 

Visitors, now that election season is drawing near, it’s time to highlight some of the pressing issues regarding Jefferson County ballot in November. Jeffco Visitors, this is particularly relevant to you, but general Visitors, I’d like you to track with me here. Sometimes sacred mantras -“Teachers Are Untouchable“- deserve to be debunked. 

I have been a bit apprehensive about publishing this particular column, because it’s important to me not to stoop to the levels I’m about to show you. However, teachers in Jeffco are not a special breed, they are human, with flaws and strengths, just like everyone else. Jeffco as a school system is deeply flawed, and it is troubling to me that we have zero recourse against the incompetence I am about to describe.

Toward that end, I’d like you to meet two Evergreen Senior High School science teachers, the two reasons I banned my last child from attending ANY science classes at EHS. 

Meet Cheryl Manning

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Photo credit:  http://www.ehs-manning.net/

When my first child started at EHS, he had had nine years of demanding Christian schooling. Classes were small, expectations were high, and children were trained to treat teachers with the utmost respect. I brought him to public school with great trepidation. I’ve been a teacher for years, and had my doubts about the consistency of delivery he would receive there. 

Imagine my surprise when I got a robotic “D and F” call from the district his very first quarter of attendance. The automated call informed me that my child was currently receiving a D or F in one or more classes. With minimal work, I tracked it down and discovered that it was in Cheryl Manning’s ninth grade life science course.

I was furious. My child was an exemplary student, why is he slacking off now?  Bright, verbal, attentive in class, and his first quarter he was getting an F in Science? I confronted him sternly. No child of MINE was going to fail in a lower-performing public school. 

“Mom! I do all of my homework! I do! I turn everything in on time! I promise!” Mrs. Manning missed something! She tells everyone she’s behind on homework all the time! “

I dragged him in on Parent Teacher Conference night and had him stand in front of Mrs. Manning-

“Explain yourself!” I demanded. 

 His face reddened at my embarrassing demand. 

“Mrs. Manning, I turn in all my homework. It must be in that pile somewhere?” He pointed to an unkempt, large stack of homework on her desk.

Manning poked through the stack, and retrieved several pieces of paper. She reviewed them, and entered some scores on her computer. “Oh, sorry, his average is actually an 86. ”

A solid B average. My bright, able son was performing consistently. I had to apologize to him right there.

After that trouble, I mistakenly allowed my girls to take the course when they entered ninth grade, as I thought they had no choice.  (My girls are six months apart. One is adopted, so they took a lot of classes together.) Manning kept up with the homework, but I was regaled, sometimes daily, with off-topic stories of Mrs. Manning’s opinion about things. Her opinion about ADD drugs, her thoughts on name calling, her thoughts about her own upbringing, with emphasis on the abuse she endured as a child. Her opinion on science education, and most aggravating of all, her take on any education-related political issue of the day, which was as left-wing as can be. All of Ms. Manning’s opinions were presented as rock-solid, inarguable facts to these fourteen year old children.  This is completely unacceptable. Teachers are to teach, not preach.

How ANY of this related to ninth grade biology concepts completely escaped me. There was no alternative to Ms. Manning’s class. My children were stuck, or so I thought. I gritted my teeth through Manning’s class, and my girls ended up in the next biology class. Again, no alternative, or so I thought.

Meet Dave Myers

(Jeffco Visitors, Myers has a secure public digital footprint. I couldn’t find a picture to show you. If you attend EHS, be very, very careful. Myers teaches biology there.)

Seven months before my husband died of metastatic colon cancer, Dave Myers gave a three day lecture on cancer processes. The lecture was filled with out of date, poorly referenced, inaccurate information. My girls, having a front-row seat to the suffering of their father, came home tearful and wide eyed after each day of the lecture. I reviewed their notes, and pointed out to the girls where Myers had lectured on wrong information. Naturally, my girls were upset and confused, particularly where Myers had pronounced metastatic cancers a ‘certain death sentence’. (To date, metastatic colon cancer has an 11 percent survival rate. Other metastatic cancer survival rates are all over the map, Myers was incredibly irresponsible for making such a pronouncement. Cruel to make it in the presence of students who were dealing with such a situation, and yes, he knew.)

Frustrated beyond words, I made an appointment with the administrator at the time. I had had issues with Myers before, brought things to his attention, and Myers had rejected my concerns outright. I did not have high hopes for this session. I asked for the administrator to mediate.

I brought my girls’ notes in to Myers. The administrator asked for Myers to give an accounting, and Myers stated that he was ‘teaching to the standard’ during a twenty-minute lecture. I pointed out to Myers that my girls EACH had three days of dated notes.  A “twenty minute lecture” was certainly not the case.

I asked Myers about various cancer processes that he had taught about. I reminded him that my husband was in a fierce cancer battle, and would he like me to ask our oncologist to come and lecture to the class, and get the most cutting-edge information possible?

Myers launched into a disgraceful display.  I was, according to Myers, a “harpy” who had “zero reason” to come in and criticize him for “teaching to the standards”.

Visitors, I’m afraid I was less than tactful. I was also completely traumatized by the impending death of my husband. I burst into tears.

“Who the HELL do you think you are, Myers? If you are ‘teaching to the standard’, understand the standard is WRONG! I am offering you the chance to get some current, up to date information, and you are NOT INTERESTED!”

The administrator hustled me out of there.

Visitors, this is just wearisome. What I want to point out to you next is the depth to which teachers like Manning and Myers will stoop to accomplish their non-academic political agenda.

Check this out.

This is a screen shot from a web page that an pro-union, anti-reform organization called Jefferson County School Board Watch posted during the recall battle for my brother’s seat, last year. Typical of the Wendy McCord, Shawna Fritzler, Scott Kwasny crowd, this thing was a tissue of lies from beginning to end. What’s really incredible though, is this part.

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We’ve come to expect complete and total deceit from Wendy McCord and her crowd.  (See “The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord”  and “The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord, 2.0” both parts, on this blog)

What completely flabbergasted me is that Cheryl Manning, Board Certified Teacher of Science at Evergreen Senior High, would make this up.

I was visiting my 96 year old dad that day, Visitors. Taking him out for ice cream, in fact. This is verifiable with his care providers. I was nowhere near Manning or McCord that day. But, as we know, the truth doesn’t matter to this particular wing of rabid Jeffco faculty, they make it up as they go along. (See, “The Lying Mouthpiece Of Jeffco Teacher’s Union: Meet Scott Kwasny” on this blog)  Manning, however,  was vicious, libelous, and relentless. And, she’s teaching your children.

I conferenced with my brother about this mess. John Newkirk, as you know, lost his seat under a successful tide of union-funded lies last fall.

John is a scholar and a gentleman. He was one of the few politicians who put up with harassment, criminal threats, union-sponsored hate speech to advance a truly altruistic agenda. He was for Jeffco kids, period, and paid an incredible price for his efforts.

His counsel to me was restrained. There is nothing you can do, Victoria. Incompetent teachers like Manning and Myers are protected. That’s one of the long list of things the reformers Williams-Newkirk- Witt were trying to change, and the voters voted FOR this kind of incompetence.

Visitors, there is something you can do, in fact, there are a lot of things. However, this column has run long.

First off, if you are a Jeffco voter who mistakenly voted FOR this mess, pay attention to the monstrous Jeffco bond issue this fall.

Vote Against It! This is over half a BILLION dollars for a district that simply will not take steps to advance the educational picture in Jeffco. The problems and corruption in Jeffco are far, far more entrenched then the ones I have described here. More on that later.

#NotAnotherDimeJeffco

Secondly, if you have children like mine, understand how concurrent enrollment works. This is what you can do – when my last child entered EHS in 2011, I refused to let the EHS science staff anywhere near her. Go to the high school counseling office, and get the forms for “Concurrent Enrollment”.  Go to Red Rocks, or the community college nearest you, and sign your child up for whatever you please. My daughter was 15, and we had to get a special permission for her to attend because the policy is usually 16. This was EASY. She then sailed through collegiate biology, anatomy and astronomy, which was taught in an objective, unbiased way. Yes, transporting her was difficult, but it was worth figuring it out.  She graduated with her class at EHS, with substantially less damage then my other three endured.

You’ve got this.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

The Education Of Victoria Faith


My firstborn daughter graduated yesterday, Visitors, and it rocked.

Victoria Faith was the smallest of my biological crew, weighing at at 6 lbs 12 oz. She had the biggest head of the bunch, though, and makes a habit out of apologizing to me every birthday. This running joke still cracks me up.

That head proved to be stuffed with brains, as this kid talked at about eight months, showed remarkable fine motor coordination early, and not an iota of interest in walking until she was nearly 2. Early childhood specialists know that could be cause for concern, so we had that enormous head scanned to check for problems, anomalies and incubating aliens. Nothing out of whack, just a cantaloupe held up on a fragile neck-stalk, and we had to be careful until she grew into it.

Grad Cap Fits

It normalized, eventually.

Victoria Faith was, of course, one of four reasons why I felt the burning desire to start Evergreen Academy. As most of you know, Visitors, Jefferson County Public Schools is a flaming train wreck, and is getting worse as time goes by. (More on that later)

Jeffco was in bad shape in the nineties, and I simply could not abide the idea of sacrificing my children on that particular altar. Victoria Faith was a case in point. When she was three, she had a preschool teacher that went a little overboard on phonics instruction for preschoolers. Three year olds should not have direct phonics instruction, and I was constantly correcting that particular teacher. That said, Victoria Faith made these mysterious synaptic connections, and one day when she was four, Chris caught her reading Curious George out loud to herself. Fluently. With expression.

Faith’s intellectual development proceeded by leaps and bounds after that. I knew what was going on, and as with all my kids, I handpicked their public school teachers when they entered public high school. Largely, Faith’s public school teachers were a good influence on her, and Chris and I mitigated the influence of the bad ones.

Salutatorian Faith

She rocked the Salutatorian stage.

Chris and I started saving for our children’s post-high school education after they got their Social Security numbers. (With four of them, we knew we better start early. ) When Chris died,  all of the kids really dialed in on the financial arrangements for college.  All of them could see me working hard for that goal, and were hugely appreciative when Poppa wrote the occasional check for that purpose. All of them stayed on task, but Faith’s path was the most torturous, in my opinion. THREE sections of Organic Chemistry? Organic Chemistry FaithThat says “Orgo III Reaction Guide – Wheeee!”.  (I have very sarcastic children.)

Jeep picture with Chris

Victoria Faith was about thirteen when this picture was taken. Chris was diagnosed shortly after.

Chris left us when Victoria Faith was sixteen, and that considerable brain power was knocked cleanly off the rails. Victoria Faith, like all of my children, was devastated.

I have never gotten permission from my children to detail  here what they experienced when they lost their father. Life was shattered for all of them. They loved their dad. Life, though, has this tendency to go on.

Faith End of Freshman Year

Victoria Faith struggled through her first year at DU. She made it.

Fem in Stem pic

She developed her own interests, and her own delightful friend group.

Robin and Faith

Distinctive Thesis Award -Faith

 

 

 

 

She made a wonderful, wonderful connection with this woman, Dr. Robin Tinghitella. Dr. Tinghitella  is a PH.D primary investigator at DU’s Tinghitella Lab, where like minded-scientists study rapid evolutionary change in organisms such as crickets and sticklefish. (http://mysite.du.edu/~rhibbs2/Robin_Tinghitella/Welcome_1.html) With Robin’s rigorous review, Victoria Faith earned a Distinctive UndergraduateThesis award.

All of this with me providing the most minimal, diminishing guidance. Visitors, those of you who , like me, have been visited with loss, remember the days when it seemed like nothing would ever change? Loss is here. It is defining. It rains on my days, it deepens my nights. I will not see the clear light of day anytime soon, maybe not ever.

Mom and Faith Graduation

Faith in auditorium

 

 

 

 

 

Things change, Visitors.

Things change for the better.

 

Like a friend of mine once said – “What are you going to do with it now? ”

Faith and Mom Walking

I’ll keep you posted.

Much love,

Victoria

Miao Zhu Lierheimer And The Handprints Of God


“God’s will”  can be a nebulous thing, Christian Visitors. Ever notice that?  We talk about it so casually, as if it’s immediately recognizable by anyone. We bandy that phrase around, as if it’s something we can readily influence.

Don’t get me wrong, God’s will never contradicts God’s word, and American Christians need to crack their Bibles more often. But the difference between God’s perfect will, and God’s allowed will?  Or even the big picture of God’s will? The farther along I get, the bigger, and more complicated it seems.

Consider this, Visitors. In about two weeks I’m boarding a plane with Christopher to go visit Abigail in Hong Kong. You remember she’s a design student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and they have a campus over there.

Twenty one years ago I boarded this plane and made the same journey to meet her for the first time,  and I remember it as if it were yesterday.

When we went to China,  Chris and I flew to Hong Kong for a single day. We were so jetlagged we spent it in the hotel asleep, and then boarded a plane for Hangzhou, in the southeast corner of the Zhejiang province of China. We spent several days there, visiting the orphanage where our daughter lived, viewing the silk mills for which Hangzhou is famous, and this, the West Lake.

West Lake possesses a haunting beauty. It’s divided into five sections by several causeways, and is full of ancient temples, pagodas and gardens that have influenced Chinese design for centuries.

West Lake is also busy. Hangzhou, which numbers nearly three million, attracts all kinds of people. Photographers, painters, artists of all sorts come to West Lake to create. It is never empty.

It was here, somewhere in this lovely spot, that Miao Zhu Xu started her journey to become Abigail Lierheimer, my daughter.

Miao Zhu’s biological mother loved her very much. At the time, China’s one-child policy was in full swing. Neighborhoods were monitored, and unauthorized second pregnancies were dealt with harshly. Benefits were denied families, and sometimes entire neighborhoods if second babies were allowed to be born. Sex-selective abortions were routine, ultrasound technology allowed this with ease. As there is a prejudice against girls in China, first girl children were routinely aborted in favor of boys.

Miao Zhu’s mother was careful. She had her baby in secret, and wrapped her tightly against the cold.  She found a crate for her baby, and wrote out all she knew about her child. She tucked the paper inside the blanket, against the baby’s delicate skin.

Under cover of darkness, she carried Miao Zhu  into West Lake. Abandoning children is a crime in China, but Miao Zhu’s mother loved her too much to let  her die. She slowly crept to a policeman’s shack, and left her sleeping baby near the door, certain to be discovered. Anxiously she waited. Waited and waited until the baby woke, and started to cry. Soon, the wailing roused the policeman on duty, and he came and picked up her child.

Miao Zhu’s mother wept as her child was taken away.

Miao Zhu landed in the Hangzhou orphanage, where she soon developed an eating disorder. Miao Zhu was wildly intolerant of lactose, and all of the formula available to the children was made from cow’s milk. She couldn’t hold it down. The orphanage had one care provider for every ten infants, and Miao Zhu was rapidly becoming a time-intensive problem. It was 1995, and often the Chinese response to sickly, abandoned children was to allow them to die of neglect.

‘Dying Rooms’ were common. Dying rooms were rooms in orphanages where ‘too needy’ children were placed, and died agonizing deaths of thirst or starvation. Earlier that year, three Americans made a film about this phenomenon, and adoptions in China ground to an abrupt halt. Miao Zhu couldn’t drink much formula, and she grew smaller and sicker. Chicken pox raced through her rooms. Headlice was common, her head was shaved.

FullSizeRender (38)

On the other side of the world Abi’s father and I waited impatiently. Abi’s brother went to preschool, and her sister was learning to walk. We had news of Abi’s difficulties, and we would often plead with God to speed things up, and let us connect with our daughter. Time was short for this little one.

Finally, we got on a plane. Days later we were driven to Hangzhou, and met Miao Zhu.

She had the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen.

We were told that ‘Miao Zhu’ meant ‘Baby Pearl’ in Chinese. ‘Abigail’ means ‘Source of Joy’, so Miao Zhu became Abigail Pearl, our joyful third child.

Abigail’s journey presents many, many puzzling questions about “God’s will”. There were many junctures where we, mere humans, could have thwarted God’s perfect will for this child. Her mother could have denied her life. The policeman in West Lake could have taken her somewhere else. Chinese politicians could have not allowed any adoptions at all after the damning documentary. Or, most likely, Abi’s little body could have shut down due to a lack of nutrition and attention.

None of these things happened.  Abi was held securely in the hand of God through all these frightful events.  It seems the older I get, the less I really know about the will of our Heavenly Father, Visitors.  But, this I do know, as the psalmist says:

    He will protect you like a bird
    spreading its wings over its young.
    His truth will be like your armor and shield. (Psalm 91:4)

Abi in China

Amen.

Much love,

Victoria