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Reinstate Mrs. Twila Smith to 7th gr. teacher at St. John Vianney School
  • Petitioned Dr. Michael Rockers, Superintendent of Hawaiʻi Catholic Schools

This petition was delivered to:

Superintendent of Hawaiʻi Catholic Schools
Dr. Michael Rockers, Superintendent of Hawaiʻi Catholic Schools
School Board Community Relations Committee Chair
Earl Walker
Fr. Thomas L. Gross
Parent Teacher Student Association
PTSA President
Erin Liftee
Parish Administrator
Peggy Leong
Bishop of Honolulu
Most Reverend Clarence (Larry) Silva

Reinstate Mrs. Twila Smith to 7th gr. teacher at St. John Vianney School

    1. Petition by

      We Love Twila Smith

After 29 years of teaching at St. John Vianney, Mrs. Twila Smith was unfairly "placed on an administrative leave without contract renewal for the 2013-2014 school year" with one quarter left in the year because of her use of the word "petulant" in scolding a student who was sulking about Mrs. Smith's normal stern, strict standards of excellence which always resulted in getting the best out of her pupils. Comments, notes and letters of support reflect loving and fond memories of Mrs. Smith's methods of getting only the very best work from her students; these are a testimony that it was a trait that many students, graduates, families, and community members valued and fondly remembered, crediting Mrs. Smith for being a pivotal teacher in their lives as they went on to lead successful high school and professional careers after transition to highschool.

It is with firm conviction that we, the undersigned assert that:

1) the dismissal of Mrs. Smith was handled unjustly in an untimely and unprofessional manner

2) that Mrs. Smith should be allowed to stay to teach her students during their final quarter of the critical 7th grade school year before high school applications and beyond, to be able to give them the recommendations for quality work earned for their high school applications next year

3) that she should be guaranteed to continue on in a no-harassment environment as is endorsed by school "no-bullying" policy amongst its student body

4) that the release of a 29 year veteran teacher should be handled with more respect, warning, opportunity for intervention and input from other SJV authorities besides the Principal alone

5) that the placement of a substitute in her position who does not know the children, where they are in their academic study this 7th grade year, nor the academic strengths and weaknesses of these students is an inappopriate course of action at this crucial moment that is fatal to the livelihood and on-going exellence of this small Catholic parish school

6) and "for the greater good", based on the positive reviews from 29 years of past students, graduates, families, and community members whose lives and hearts have been positively changed by this wonderful teacher, Mrs. Smith should be celebrated!

Finally, we feel that Mrs. Smith's unfair removal from St. John Vianney will mark a turning point in the academic level of the school which we hope will not result in a drop in the quality of education to be had here and a resulting exit of many families from the school.. SAVE OUR TEACHER and SAVE OUR SCHOOL!

With enough signatures, and letters of support - it is our hope and intent that the demise of the quality of education at St. John Vianney Parish School can be avoided while preserving Mrs. Smith's legacy of excellence for future students of SJV! Let the voices of parents, students, graduates, and community members be heard!

Dr. Michael Rockers, Superintendent of Hawaiʻi Catholic Schools, Superintendent of Hawaiʻi Catholic Schools
Earl Walker, School Board Community Relations Committee Chair
Fr. Thomas L. Gross, Father
Parent Teacher Student Association, PTSA
Erin Liftee, PTSA President
Peggy Leong, Parish Administrator
Most Reverend Clarence (Larry) Silva, Bishop of Honolulu
Reinstate Mrs. Twila Smith to 7th gr. teacher at St. John Vianney School

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. Anyone wonder why May 2013 School board meeting is cancelled tonite?

      We will continue to look forward to the next time the SJV School Board meets. Thank you all for your continued patience and support of this issue. When the next date is announced, we will be sure to update everyone to bring their smiling faces, loving comments, and letters of support of Mrs. Smith! Have a good evening and God bless us all!

    2. Current Parents invited to share thoughts with the SJV School Board 5/14

      Current parents, and others who support this issue are invited to attend the St. John Vianney School Board meeting on Tuesday, May 14th at 7:30pm above the Administrative Office. Hope to see you there with smiling, supporting faces, loving comments, and perhaps letters of support that can be shared with Administrators that evening. They need to hear straight from their constituents how Mrs. Smith has helped them and how her removal from the school will detrimentally affect the level of education at St. John Vianney!

    3. The little pebble that became a giant snowball!

      We have just surpassed 500 signatures! How peculiar that a little pebble in the pond can create a constant tide of ripples and the smallest rolling stone can become a giant snowball! Lets keep this snowball rolling so that Mrs. Smith can use this petition to show the Catholic School Superintendent that quality educators cannot be easily replaced and that many people want Mrs. Smith and other teachers like her to continue teaching our kids!

    4. Reached 500 signatures
    5. We have reached 100 signatures.. let's keep this going!

      We have reached 100 signatures! That is awesome! Remember that the more signatures this document carries, the more clout it carries as well. The document can be used by Mrs. Smith to support her in an effort to be reinstated at St. John Vianney so individual signatures from an entire family who support Mrs. Smith are able to and should sign! Please share with your families and friends so that we don't let this injustice go silently into the night!

    6. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Michele (Liu) Akana WAIMANALO, HI
      • about 1 year ago

      To say that the firing of Twila Smith was in the best interest of the longevity of the St. John Vianney Parish school is incredulous. My family: my aunts were attending Sisters, cousins were alter boys, and my parents and I were part of this Parish since before Father Mark; I myself was baptized and given 1st Communion here. I attended St. John Vianney and graduated 23 years ago to go on to Kamehameha; from my 8th grade class, 9 of 30 went on to Kamehameha! Mrs. Smith was my teacher 27 years ago when I made the switch from public to private school. In 2007 I brought my daughter from Hawaiian Immersion, not reading a single English word, with similar goals in mind; this past Friday, she graduated from the school, class of 2013 one of the top 5 students in her class and invited to the top schools on Oʻahu. I had excellent, memorable experiences with Mrs. Smith as my own teacher at the start of her teaching career who gave me many of the teaching methods I have used today as a teacher in the DOE at the Youth Correctional Facility; and in the last 4 years, my daughter has had great experiences with Mrs. Smith as her own tough, loving, and favorite teacher over the past 4 years. Mrs. Smith was one of the very reasons why we chose to attend St. John Vianney, knowing that the experience with this teacher of excellence would teach my daughter on all levels about how to be responsible, creative, and a high quality academic leader. The results are nothing less than what was expected. To my family, whatever "numerous issues" that justified this course of action simply cannot outshine all the positive that Mrs. Smith has done for so many generations of families that have come out of St. John Vianney.

      For so many reasons, I have always stood on my belief that this school was THE BEST. Academically and athletically. Likewise, my thoughts follow the logic that the reputation by which this school stands, that our graduates matriculate to high quality private schools more than likely have something in common; each of us have had to learn the meaning of excellence over the last 29 years of Mrs. Smith's teachings.

      And when things seem like they couldn't get worse, most infuriatingly, not only does the veteran teacher of 29 years, the only teacher left from the old school St. John Vianney be removed from service; in addition, we now have a 1 year barely new 8th grade teacher, a brand new 6th and 7th grade teacher replacements, and the Principal and his wife, our beloved 5th grade teacher Mrs. Busekrus leaves for Virginia to head another Catholic school leaving us with a brand new 5th grade teacher and a new Principal for the coming year! It is agreed that the administration has led the school to technological advancements albeit with the help of great teachers who can implement them into daily lessons; however, at what cost? The annual increase in tuition for these tech advancements result in less student population and most definitely, a significantly smaller Hawaiian population in attendance and a correlating smaller budget to attract and hold teachers; top that off with the release of Mrs Smith in the final quarter, treating her like a criminal, and besmirching her character as a teacher for whatever imagined and/or personal reason was the straw that broke the camels back! Now, as a few of the good teachers are scrambling to get out of the sinking ship and leave behind a disgruntled, and crumbling school with 4 brand new teachers in the upper divisions and no experienced leadership to transition them or the students is utterly irresponsible, lacking foresight and planning on the part of the Administration: Principal and Father especially.

      Thanks to the educational foundations that were laid for me here, I have a Bachelors, Masters in Education, and am beginning a PhD in Education program this year. Thanks to this school that I would swear by as THE BEST school on the windward side. Although Father Tom states that the opinions of our alumni and community don't matter as we are no longer a part of our school; our achievements and accolades DO matter and still bring honor to our alumni! Therefor, fellow concerned alumni and community, take off your blinders and see things for what it really is; "Our" school needs some serious prayer for a change in wise leadership and a blessing of the gift of discernment to lead the students and families successfully through the tough roads that will come in the year ahead.

      Again, to say that this school is better off without Mrs. Smith is incredulous and they really need to get their eyes or their head checked. Seriously.

    • Brian Klein WASHINGTON, DC
      • about 1 year ago

      Mrs. Smith was an incredibly effective, dedicated, and caring teacher. Her courses and lessons--sixth grade social studies, memorizing the countries of the world--were some of the most interesting and useful from our time at SJV. Thanks for everything, Mrs. Smith, and much aloha from our family!

    • Rebecca Snyder BEMIDJI, MN
      • about 1 year ago

      This wonderful lady should be honored and thanked for her years of service to your school and her students.

    • Gregory Moen BEMIDJI, MN
      • about 1 year ago

      To increase attention to the matters of principals abusing authority and dismissing teachers on whims as opposed to valid reasons. Teachers with impeccable reputations should not be dismissed "for cause" because of personality differences with administration. The bottom line is about results in the classroom not how a teacher and principal disagree.

    • Judi Vetter HARVEY, ND
      • about 1 year ago

      I have known Twila since the late 60's. She has always been a devout Catholic, a strong teacher, and a great knowledge of right and wrong. It is sad when one individual can have this much power over one teachers life.


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