My child came home a few weeks ago telling me the whole school was in an uproar over Mr. Bidwell “going” with another teacher. I ask him where he heard that and he told me some of the girls were talking about it at lunch. I ask him, were Mr. Bidwell and the “other” teacher acting in a disrespectful way? He said “no ma’am.” I then let him know it was gossip and it was none of anyone’s business what he or anyone else did on their personal time. People get divorced and remarried, fall in or out of love every day. He told me, “Yea, I know, Mama, but you know how people still like to talk, Mr. Bidwell is still Mr. Bidwell no matter who his girlfriend is.” Our conversation ended.

A few weeks later my child again came home, but this time he was very upset. He let me know that Mr. Bidwell may get fired. Of course this caught my attention for sure, because of mine and my child’s respect for Mr. Bidwell. As I questioned him, he explained to me, maybe not fired, just not recommended for the job next year. I then started asking more questions and as I understood it, some of the school board members contacted Mrs. Marks, our superintendent of schools, and ask/advised her not to recommend/rehire the acting principal for Franklin County School, Eric Bidwell.

I think what really got to me the most is a conversation I had with a lifelong friend today. They were more concerned with the rumors that were going around on Facebook about the principal’s personal life than being excited about their child attending a first-class state-of-the-art school next year when they transfer over from the ABC School.

With all the above stated, let me flash back a few years before our school was consolidated. How many of you reading this remember Coach Mikel Clark? He was a great coach, teacher and principal. He was and still is in some cases, the “go to” person when you had a problem in or out of school. He knew every child by their first name. He knew their parents and how involved their parents were in their child’s lives in and out of school. You could talk to him about your home life, teacher problems, student problems, fishing or hunting. He was NEVER too busy for a child.

Who remembers Nan Collins? She also was the best student counselor, in my opinion, that ever worked in the school system. She also knew every child by their first name. She knew what sports you played, how your grades were doing and if you had the potential to do more, she was the first one to let you know. There was no “just making it” or “just skimming by” if she thought you could do more. We never had to worry about if we were getting enough credits or the right ones we needed to graduate. She would let us know and make sure we were on the right path.

I could go on and on about the great teachers of the past, in Carrabelle, Eastpoint and Apalachicola, but my point is, if Eric Bidwell is not rehired next year, our school will have lost a another Mikel Clark and Nan Collins. You, Mrs. Marks and the Franklin County School Board, will have fired the best thing our school system has seen in a long time.

Mr. Bidwell knows those children by their first names. He knows the parents by their first names, He knows and understands that every child does not have the same personality, and the ones that can do more and the ones that can’t and need a little slower pace and a little more TLC. He is from a slower-paced small county like ours. He always has time for our children. He has the ability to discipline a child and make them glad of it at the same time, by just the way he talks to them. As a matter of fact, Mr. Bidwell is the ONLY person in administration who Has EVER returned my phone call. I could go on and on, but I’m sure everyone understands my point.

In my opinion as a Franklin County voter, taxpayer and mother of a sophomore, our school needs more Mr. Bidwells.

This whole “mess” reminds me of one of my old favorite songs. Harper Valley PTA or should it be Franklin County PTA? Like my Mama used to say “If the shoe fits.”

Put our children first, not gossip and who’s seeing who...

Penny Sutton

Concerned Parent