York Town Square

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How will history remember this moment in York City schools?

The York City School District and community leaders are looking to the talents of Supt. Deborah Wortham, left, to provide leadership in very difficult financial times. Here, the superintendent is cheering on students and alumni playing William Penn High School songs in support of efforts to save the music, art, and athletic programs endangered the current city school financial crisis. (Click to enlarge. Also of interest: William Penn High School class of 1941′s last reunion: ‘The world is moving at warp speed’.

Will history remember this time in the York City School District as a turning point?

Is it a time when it hits rock bottom and rebounds? Or will it hit the floor and stay there?

It’s clearly a hinge point. Community leader Eric Menzer has called the district’s projected budget deficit not just a financial crisis but a moral crisis and a crisis of the will.

It’s a time when people and leaders from the corners of York County must gather themselves and support the city.

That’s not currently the case.

An awkward and telling moment came later in the event this week – the York County Community Foundation’s annual meeting – in which Menzer made his speech.

Officials from suburban and private city schools who said they would attend the event were asked to stand to be recognized.

As their names were called, only a few were actually there.

And that list of shows and no-shows was short compared to the number of districts and schools in York County.

Somehow, a piece I wrote for the upcoming York Sunday News (5/20/12) applies here.  It tells a story of an educator who went to a suburban York County high school investing in a city – Washington, D.C., in this case. And it’s a story of how that investment pays dividends.

The themes in this story are happening in York city, too.

May it add to current discourse about education in York County

Here goes:

She’s a teacher in Washington, D.C., public schools – Calvin Coolidge High School, to be exact, the one with the nationally known woman who coaches its winning boys football team.

Anyway, this former York countian just won the top teacher award among College Summit educators in the Greater D.C. area for her work with College Summit. Her school similarly scored top school honors in the competition covering 25 schools who are participating in this initiative to point inner-city students to college careers.

To achieve in that challenging school environment, she must be as tender as a sweat pea and possess the conviction in her calling to bite the head off a nail.

Then spit it out.

That teacher is a 2004 Dallastown Area High School graduate.

She’s my daughter, Regina, Miss M to her students.

I had to get that in, but this piece is about one of her students.

Maurice Jeffers.


Well, Mo found a wallet on the metro one day with $400 and all kinds of credit cards in it.

He saw its owner at a distance, but it was too late to make contact. He tried calling phone numbers in the wallet to return it himself, but they did not work.

So, he handed it in to one of his teachers.

The wallet’s owner came to Coolidge to pick it up and meet Mo.

The man was grateful because he was heading to New York later that day and didn’t think he would have been able to go without his wallet. The grateful man shook Mo’s hand and offered him a $20 reward.

Mo accepted the thanks and refused the cash.

Just tell everyone you know, Mo told the man, who returned this to you.

An inner-city black kid.

A student athlete.

A full scholarship winner to Delaware.

That’s the University of Delaware, Mo once said, not Delaware State, a predominantly black school.

There’s no way of knowing if that man paid it forward.

But, Mo, consider it done.

And I’ll see if I can get your story into the hands of the editor of the Washington Post.

Good things are happening in our schools, even as they struggle financially.

Good things in Washington, D.C., and in York, Pa.

Also of interest:

Check out this list of achievers who graduated from William Penn High School.