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February 23, 2016

Dryden residents rally for teacher

drydenLeann Hlebica/staff photo
Dryden school district residents show support for high school chorus teacher Krista Easton Monday night at Cassavant Elementary School. Some residents wore T-shirts with the slogan “Sing to the Ducks, Project Easton” in a push to have Easton receive tenure.

By LEANN HLEBICA
Staff Reporter
lhlebica@cortlandstandardnews.net

DRYDEN — Students,parents, teachers and residents spoke for more than an hour at the Board of Education meeting Monday to persuade the board to keep their beloved teacher, Krista Easton.
Easton had recently been denied tenure after working as the high school chorus teacher for two years.
Superintendent of Schools Sandy Sherwood said this morning that administrators have three options for each teacher: approve tenure, end the two-year probationary period and essentially fire the individual, or extending the probation period.
She would not comment on where Easton stands, citing confidentiality concerns.
The “Sing to the Ducks” campaign was started after 11-year-old Julian Speight shared his story about his need to sing and finding the courage to do it.
Having a crowded house full of family, Speight said while doing his chores of feeding the ducks in his back pond, he would sing to the ducks the songs Easton taught him. It was his own private moment, and he explained that without Easton, he wouldn’t have the courage to sing ... even to ducks.
This launched a community wide campaign to back Easton in her request for tenure. The residents who came to support Easton wore bright T-shirts with the slogan “Sing to the Ducks, Project Easton.”
Tim Woods, father of Gabe Woods — the student who led the campaign — told board members that it was not just a group of parents and students supporting Easton, but much of the rest of the community, too.
He had been holding a white and purple sign reading, “Project Easton,” and said residents and businesses plan to display the signs.
Countless other students shared their testimonials of how Easton has inspired, motivated and changed them for the better.
One student, Andrew McDaniel, shared his comments to the board about how Easton taught him to belong to a group and ended with, “and we kindly ask you to let her stay.”
Michael Brownell, New York State School Music Association president and McGraw music teacher, said Easton had put together a staff professional development day and invited area music teachers to join. The platform she used, SoundCloud and her ideas were motivating and unique, he said.
Dryden parent Mary Beth McDaniel said that when she chaperoned a field trip with Easton to take students to see “Les Miserables” in New York City, the students were able to use music definitions and had an understanding that surpassed hers.
“This is exactly what education should be, I don’t know what more you could ask of an educator for our kids,” McDaniel said.
Board members thanked everyone for speaking, and proceeded with the meeting.
“I have no other comment than I can’t say it better than my students,” Easton said.

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