To the Editor:
For the past six years, I have worked at Elmore Academy. I was upset to read the articles and comments as reported by the Faribault County Register and the Fairmont Sentinel.
Everyone who starts a new job does not automatically know what to do. Everyone has to be trained. This job working with children with problems is not for everyone.
Many of our staff have been at Elmore Academy for more than five years and many since our facility opened. Staff who work at Elmore Academy and other similar facilities come to work there because they want to help children. They do not come there to work because they want to beat up on children.
It is misleading for the newspapers to print (Public Defender) Mr. Grogin's opinions about our staff. Certainly we have had problems. We do not deny this. Problems are not routine and everyone here is profoundly sorry when a child or a staff person is injured. No one wants this. We are not a juvenile detention center and our children are not ever locked in a cell.
It is not only Faribault and Martin counties that have families with problems leading to runaway and truant children that come to Elmore Academy. Other counties do too. Including Ramsey County. To imply that the children that come to us from Ramsey County are violent is incredibly offensive and naive. I am amazed that was said, and more amazed that was printed.
It is important to remember Elmore Academy has helped many children learn what it is to overcome their past and become successful. We have children playing in athletics and being part of a teams, some of them for the first time in their lives. We have staff who have taught children skills such as carpentry, plumbing and household improvement as well as crocheting and knitting and other sewing skills. We have our Wildcat Caf, where children who have progressed have jobs working with the public and learning cooking skills.
The people in our community enjoy meeting the children and the children enjoy meeting them. We have children who have helped with our new library and city parades and have learned the value of being part of a community. We have many children who are on A and B honor rolls for the first time. We have children who have graduated or earned GEDs. We have children leave and attend technical schools and college. The children are so proud of these successes.
We have full-time nursing staff, therapists and substance abuse professionals as well as full-time teachers. We receive letters, emails, phone calls and visits from former students who talk about how much their stay at Elmore Academy helped them. We have students who stay in contact with their staff after they leave by both phone calls and mail. They like to share with staff their success and they also call because they know they will have a supportive person to talk to.
As a community, Elmore Academy is something most of our citizens embrace. We have churches that support us by making quilts for the children and by buying gifts for them, or asking what they can donate that the children can use.
It would seem to me that rather than try and tear us apart, our local newspapers and those reporting all the bad would also seek to look at all the good works Elmore Academy has accomplished and will continue to accomplish.