Harris Lynam of Charleston has won The Post and Courier’s Golden Pen award for June for his letter to the editor “S.C. loses another terrific teacher.”
Harris, who was an 11th grader at the Charleston County School of the Arts when he wrote the letter, lamented the looming move of his favorite teacher.
Harris wrote: “Michael Donnellon is taking a significant pay raise by moving from right-to-work South Carolina back to his home state, Michigan. The rising juniors at Charleston County School of the Arts won’t be exposed to his crass, often inappropriate humor, and I won’t get to drop in on his class to bother him.
“We’re sending him off right with a Kurt Vonnegut original screenprint and a large card made by our visual arts department, but the space he’s leaving in our history department is palpable already.”
And: “His departure has gotten a few of us thinking about the way we run our schools and what we’ll be missing when he’s gone. The average teacher in South Carolina, where a ‘minimally adequate education’ is required by law, makes $47,000 a year. In Michigan: $64,000.”
Harris praised Mr. Donnellon’s “commitment to cultivating us to think for ourselves and not like our parents, to remove ourselves from the propaganda of politics and history, and to think realistically instead of mythically, has actually managed some changes.”
The letter concluded:
“Honestly, South Carolina is a perfect brew for losing great teachers, and no one was surprised when he decided to make the move. He belongs in a better institution with better pay and a better attitude about education, but our little school is going to hate to see him go. He’s made the kind of impact only a truly dedicated and intelligent person can: He teaches. And the importance of that should never be undervalued.”
Golden Pen winners are invited to an annual luncheon with the editorial staff.