Letter to the editor

Published 10:16 am Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dear Editor:

I taught for 20 years at Lafayette Elementary and embraced each day with joy and pride. It was my calling to teach children to read and write, to think, to become lifelong learners. Lafayette Schools was a fabulous place to do that work.  I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work in our school system.

The only negative experience during my time working in our school system was the politics of the county school board. There were political maneuvers made by board members that benefited their own careers or that of their spouses with no regard to their purpose as the school board … to improve the education of the children of Lafayette County.

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After reading your article in the Aug. 9 edition about Bill McGregor’s work for the school being described as a conflict of interest, it seems the detrimental politics of the school board continues. I thought the published article was not a complete or accurate perspective. I am concerned it is personal politics that has no place in our educational system. The article did state that Bill returned the money he was paid. Let me tell the rest of the story about Dawn and Bill McGregor.

My guess is that Bill McGregor has spent more out-of-pocket money to improve Lafayette County Schools than any other board member who has ever served. His donated work includes tearing down shelves in the library, demolishing a building, providing concrete work and repairing playground equipment. When Willie Price School at the University of Mississippi donated their playground equipment to Lafayette Elementary, Bill used the equipment from his business and his time to move the equipment at no charge and then designed a new playground area.

His wife Dawn, a coveted volunteer in the elementary schools, spent 30 to 40 hours a week at the lower elementary school when their son, John Michael, began kindergarten in 2009, six years before Bill was elected to serve on the school board in 2015.  Dawn continues to help teachers get daily class materials ready, work in the libraries and assist any way she is needed. Dawn filled in for the librarian on several occasions when she was absent due to a death in the family and would not take pay for it.  Her art talent is used to make welcome banners, pageant artwork and to make school more visually inviting.

Dawn and Bill have provided clothing, food and school supplies for children in need. When the elementary building flooded, Dawn was there sweeping out the water for hours.  The children at Lafayette Elementary know Dawn and have benefited from her many hours of volunteer work and I have witnessed Dawn in the grocery store with Lafayette County children running to see her.

The McGregors have made monetary contributions to Lafayette in addition to the donation of their time. Dawn and Bill do the work to serve the children of Lafayette County, to improve the school’s environment, to ensure that the best is provided so that the children can reach their potential as lifelong learners. Dawn and Bill go about their work quietly, seeking no praise.  They do the work because that’s the kind of people they are, the kind of people our children need as role models, those who give without seeking anything in return.

Bill McGregor makes decisions based on his business experience. He is not always popular with the “Good Old Boys.”

We need more people like Bill and Dawn McGregor who are so willing to give of their time, money and expertise to improve our schools.

Cathy Stewart

Former first-grade teacher