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Posted at 6:21 PM ET, 09/ 8/2010

What Ron Hillyer could teach Michelle Rhee

By editors

By Marian Fox,

Regarding the Sept. 3 front-page article “Famous in the halls of Janney Elementary”:

I came to know custodian Ron Hillyer when my son attended Tenleytown’s Janney Elementary School. We bonded over our mutual interest in the movie “Glory,” and he shared with me mementos of his time as an extra on the set. On several occasions, when I planned to meet my son at school, he knew to find me in Mr. Hillyer’s office. D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee would do well to listen to Mr. Hillyer’s ideas for school reform — his dedication, sensitivity and experience are an inspiring combination that sometimes seems undervalued by our schools chancellor. And he could certainly show her how to properly wield a broom.

By editors  | September 8, 2010; 6:21 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., schools  
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It's good that people like Ron Hillyer are appreciated. People like him are the salt of the earth.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 8, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

People of good character can be found in every social class; they can be rich or poor, highly-educated or illiterate. And the same goes for people of poor character.

In the field of education, character must always come first, whether you are the school custodian or the "chancellor."

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | September 8, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Charles "Buck" Offutt has been a teacher at DeMatha Catholic High School for 55 years (and sadly, after suffering a stroke , he is in very poor condition).

Tom Ponton, director of development at DeMatha told this story last year:
"When I came back to work at DeMatha some 10 years after I had graduated, I often turned to Buck for advice on a variety of topics -- music, books, poetry, and yes, even life itself. About eight or nine years ago, I mustered up enough courage to ask Buck the BIG question -- what was the purpose of life? From the outer doorway of my office, he looked at me somewhat surprised and said, "You're still trying to figure that one out, eh? Well, I gave up years ago."

I knew he was lying and he knew that I knew that, so I pressed him again. After a long pause, he told me that the best answer he could come up with was actually handed down to him by a former student, a man he was now friends with, "Tom, it's as simple as this -- help people, don't hurt them."

It is my view that the quote above aptly describes Buck and what he's done for the past 50 plus years at DeMatha Catholic High School."

Help people, don't hurt them.

Posted by: edlharris | September 9, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

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