School District Downsizes Robotics Program Head
Despite the layoff, School Board President Denice Ashe assured parents the robotics program will continue.
According to The Times Herald, some students, parents and supporters are unhappy with the Norristown Area School Board's decision to eliminate the Instructional Data and Technology Coordinator position, downsizing popular robotics team advisor Beth Roth.
"She brought this program to these kids who had no idea what this was, had no focus and now they have a focus," parent Lisa Fernandez told the Herald. “This is all they talk about and all they think about. It’s become a good thing for this place."
Fernandez' son Frankie is part of the robotics team. The team came to prominence in March of this year after three students – Imer Vazquez, Tony Zevallos and Fernandez – were invited to compete in the 2012 Vex Robotics World Middle School Competition in Anaheim in April. There was a slight hiccup when parents and supporters squared off against the board over giving the kids permission to go, but eventually that controversy died out and the kids were given the green light.
Despite the elimination of the position, Norristown Area School Board President Denice Ashe assured parents the robotics program will continue, but some supporters voiced their concerns over the decision to let Roth go and the future of the program.
"I have had the pleasure of knowing Ms. Roth and she is truly one of the most caring people that Norristown could have in their school district," Scott Tarlo, a mentor for the Downingtown Area Robotics Team, wrote in a letter to Norristown Patch. "Her dedication, enthusiasm, and mentorship were an inspiration to those kids. Whenever her and I talked about the impact of the program on the kids, she would well up with tears knowing that she was truly making a difference. I cannot understand why she would be 'downsized' given the integral role she played both in the school district as Technology Coordinator and her commitment to her students."
"As you know, we never truly know all the facts, but I say with conviction that her success with those children and that program speaks volumes about her abilities and her effectiveness," Tarlo continued. "It is my desire to hold the school district accountable to the public for their decision. More importantly, those kids need her there, and so does the district."
Read more about the issue and the robotics program here.