April 17, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 3

Teacher Guzman an extension of family

Letters to the Editor

My first meeting with Guillermo Guzman was for my son’s parent-teacher (Spanish) conference. The second time I met with him was this Sunday past - at the Okanogan County jail. Mr. Guzman and I have exchanged emails from time-to-time regarding Joshua’s progress, expectations, and such… but otherwise I did not know him and I am less for that.

Things have all changed now… for him, for my child, for your children. Yesterday I read the Star article about the (Mr. Guzman’s) arrest, chatted with a few friends and my son… particularly my son. I was given a “teaching moment.” We talked, Joshua and I, about the presumption of innocence, about the mistakes we all make during our lives, about the measures that set good men (and women) apart and above. As it is, by the very nature of the profession, we elevate teachers as an extension to our own families. Our children are with them almost as much as with us… often we trust them to do and be more than ourselves. Mr. Guzman is no different, I trusted him four months ago, I trusted him last week, and I would trust him again tomorrow. He has done no harm to my child, your child, or the community. The nature of his “alleged” transgressions regarding immigration and such, have nothing to do with his heart and value as a man and as a teacher, and I (for one) will be standing up for him.

Sunday morning I woke from a dream woven by the poetic words of Pablo Nudera’s “Ode to Opposites.” I woke consumed by sorrow for this man I really didn’t know, but trusted with my son’s mind. We met again the first day of this week — he in orange coveralls — separated from a handshake by glass and from words by a static inclined handset. I left that meeting more assured than ever that my trust was well and rightfully placed. He may have made a mistake, he may have transgressed against the statute, he may have tripped on a hidden cobble - I can’t, and don’t know. But I will not judge him nor will I presuppose the worse. To me, he remains a good teacher and a man with a good heart - an extension to my family!

Greg Wilder

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