Earlier this year, my agency – The Silent Partner Marketing – announced we were going to give away two small scholarships to graduating seniors in Southwick, Massachusetts. It’s where my wife and I graduated from… and it would be a small tribute to a school that helped us get to where we are today.
One would be a $750 scholarship would be for a student going on to a trade school or college. The other would be a $750 scholarship for a student joining the military to help cover travel expenses to return home to see their family. The selection committee is comprised of alumni including a veteran, a police officer, an occupational therapist, a mother pursuing her own MBA in business and myself.
It took dozens of calls and emails to get a response from the school when we offered up the scholarship. Finally we were told it would be voted on by the school committee in May to get final approval.
That’s right… you apparently need approval to give away money to help students.
It was a week later that, as you may have heard, I was uninvited from speaking to the students at a tribute put on by the VFW. The reason given to the VFW by the superintendent? I’m a conservative and students would not feel safe around me as a result.
Flash forward… the scholarship vote was magically removed from the agenda for the school committee meeting. Every single call and email to the school by my company and our committee has since gone unanswered.
A reporter from The Westfield News informed me that the school’s paltry response was that they don’t allow businesses to give scholarships to students… or something like that. I couldn’t tell you for certain – the school refuses to answer any of our questions or calls.
But the Superintendent should have taken two seconds to use the high school’s website before embarrassing herself. Here’s a list of current scholarships. You’ll note the Berkshire Bank scholarship, the Accuplan scholarship and the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association scholarship, among others. There’s even one for students who are ONLY Jewish.
First, this Superintendent deprived students of a speaker because of her political views. Now she’s depriving them of money. Is she going to come up with the cash? After all, in 2015, the Southwick Superintendent position paid $140,000 per year, according to WWLP. No doubt the salary is up considerably since then. Even if it isn’t… it’s still nearly twice what the average household income was for Southwick residents in 2016 – which was an estimated $67,867.
At what point does the school committee take action against the head of a school that’s not doing what’s in the best interest of students… but rather hurting them and their families because of her political beliefs?
Here’s the contact information for her office. Give them your thoughts. And pass this around if you believe educators should get back to educating.
Oh, and Superintendent Willard? You should help the school save face by stepping down so someone with a spine and a moral compass can replace you. It’s time you stop hurting their reputation with your stubborn attitude and your politics.
Kyle S. Reyes is the National Spokesman for Law Enforcement Today, founder of The Whiskey Patriots and Chief Executive Officer of The Silent Partner Marketing. Reyes is also an acclaimed keynote speaker on patriotism and leadership, entrepreneurship and marketing by storytelling. You can follow him on Facebook.