Reach Up. Don’t Be Pulled Down.

Tyler Weaver  (image courtesy of Katie Weaver)

Tyler Weaver (image courtesy of Katie Weaver)

Imagine the NCAA telling the University of Alabama the school cannot compete for a national championship in football because they had won it too often. Imagine UCLA and John Wooden being told “sorry, you’ve won too many times so you can’t win the basketball championship.”

Closer to the lives we all lead, imagine repeatedly winning a sales contest or being selected “employee of the month” so many times you are told you cannot win it again.

Excellence in any endeavor makes everyone around us better. It sets a standard for which we can all strive. If you don’t like Alabama winning, go out and beat them. If you don’t like some employee winning a sales contest, go out and sell more than they do.

It’s that simple.

Which brings us to this story.

Tyler Weaver is a 12 year old fifth grader who for the last five years has participated in his local library’s “Dig Into Reading,” a summer reading program in Hudson Falls, New York.

The program rewards the child who reads the most books during the summer with a small prize.

For the last five years, that child has been Tyler Weaver, who has read a whopping 373 books over the course of the five years. This summer, Tyler read 63 books over the course of six weeks ranking first in the contest.

(Tyler’s brother came in second – reading 40 books which we think is great for a 7 year old.)

There was one person who was not happy with the results – Hudson Falls Public Library Director Marie Gandron.

During a phone call Tuesday to Gandron, the library director said Tyler “hogs” the contest every year and he should “step aside.”

“Other kids quit because they can’t keep up,” Gandron said.

It sounds a great deal like Tyler is being punished for his excellence and efforts.

Gandon’s proposed solution is to still have the contest, but at the end of the summer have a drawing from amongst all the participants and whoever’s name is drawn is the “winner.”

Not all people within the library staff support Grandon’s new plan.

Lita Casey, an aide at the library for 28 years, said she is usually the person who asks the questions to determine whether the children have done the reading. She keeps track of the number of books for each student and submits it to Gandron.

Casey said she enjoys working with all the kids at the library and does Casey said she enjoys working with all the kids at the library and doesn’t want her job to be in jeopardy, but she feels Gandron’s plan to change the rules of the contest are “ridiculous.”

Casey said everyone in the club is on a level playing field because all begin and end the same day and all have the opportunity to read as many books as they wish.

“We’re not going to see some of these kids until next year, and you’re worried about them (being treated equally), and then, you’ve got two kids who come in every week taking books out?” she said.

Casey said she called library board member Michael Herman to complain.

“My feeling is you work, you get it. That’s just the way it is in anything. My granddaughter started working on track in grade school and ended up being a national champ. Should she have backed off and said, ‘No, somebody else should win?’ I told her (Gandron), but she said it’s not a contest, it’s the reading club and everybody should get a chance,” Casey said.

Casey believes she can see how Grandon’s plan would play out:

Casey said some of the children read only the minimum of 10 books so they can receive an invitation to the party at the end of the program.

This year, she made “six or seven” follow-up phone calls a week before the contest ended to prompt kids to finish their books.

So instead of working hard and reading a lot of books like Tyler, Grandon’s plan would reward those who don’t work as hard or put in the same effort.

Tyler’s mother was understandably upset with Grandon’s new plan and comments and contacted reporters who reported on the situation causing Gandon to pull back her new plans for the contest.

One would think it would end there but it hasn’t.

The president of the Library Board released the following statement:

The Good News from Hudson Falls Free Library: Kids Are Reading!

Let’s Turn the Page on Unfortunate Controversy

Statement from:

Michael Herman


Hudson Falls Free Library Board of Trustees

August 21, 2013

For more than four decades, the goal of Hudson Falls Free Library’s summer reading program has been to encourage and inspire children toward a lifelong love of reading — and we have been immensely successful.

This year, 30 children read 10 or more books over their summer vacation. That’s the good story we should be sharing and celebrating, and we’re sorry that some unfortunate comments have overshadowed the accomplishments of Tyler Weaver and all of the participants in our program.

Tyler has achieved an impressive record of reading the most books in our program for five years in a row, and deserves our applause for that. In an era where technology too often keeps children’s noses pointed at text messages and video games, Tyler and the other “Dig into Reading” kids have embraced the wonderful world of books, and for that they should all be proud.

Looking forward, the Library Board and staff will be reviewing the way in which our program works to ensure that it continues to meet its goal of encouraging as many children as possible to spend time reading over the summer.

We thank Tyler and all of our young friends of Hudson Falls Free Library for sharing their love of reading with us, and we look forward to reading and learning with them for many years to come.

Yeah, the Library is sorry that “unfortunate comments” were made. How ’bout owning up and saying “we were wrong to suggest a kid should ‘step aside’?”

Or how about saying “Tyler Weaver sets the bar high for other readers who should be challenged and encouraged by parents, the community and the library staff to read as much as he does?”

We have to make sure that we make excellence, and striving for excellence, to be what we are teaching kids. We shouldn’t hurt kids that excel by demanding they be pulled down to the level of other less motivated, lower performing kids.

We have to pull kids up, not down.

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