Joanne N. Letendre of Charleston has won The Post and Courier's Golden Pen Award for April for her letter to the editor "Educators deserve fair appeals process."
The letter begins: "I am in awe of those Charleston County School District teachers who have the courage to stand up for themselves in front of the school board to appeal the revoking of their continuing contracts. Don't be fooled by circumlocutory language. Not being given a continuing contract means the teacher has been fired and his career has been terminated."
Mr. Letendre was reacting to Charleston County School Board Chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats' comment that when hearing an appeal from an educator who didn't get a continuing contract takes an entire day that's "an inordinate amount of time and energy."
The letter asks: "So what is a teacher's career worth to the School Board ... five hours, three hours, 30 minutes?"
Ms. Letendre added: "My innovative syllabus for teaching library research methods has been published and nationally recognized. Yet, with seven years as a Charleston County school librarian, I could not pass the formal evaluation as supervised by an administrator who pronounced library as 'liberry.'
"My downfall was my unwillingness to replace proven reading enhancements and love of books with robotic repetition of the English Language Arts curriculum. I had the audacity to choose storytelling, reader's theater, and educational games over stepped reading programs."
The letter concluded:
"So I lost my livelihood, but hope ample time and truthfulness are offered to other teachers appealing for their vocations."
Golden Pen winners are invited to an annual luncheon with the editorial staff.