Letters to the Editor: East Rockaway, Lynbrook

Feb. 13-19, 2014


A true inspiration

To the Editor:
You may have seen the film “Pay it Forward,” the story of Trevor McKinney, a boy who is so inspired by his teacher that he actually takes his extra credit assignment to pay it forward himself, turning his own world and the world around him upside down. The film poses a simple, yet profound, question: Is Trevor naive and idealistic to think that he could actually change the world?

East Rockaway High School has its own version of Trevor McKinney in our social studies teacher Don Poland, who recently organized a drive to collect 250 cases of bottled water. Accompanied by his student Angelina Sarro (who initially brought the idea to Poland) and her father, Poland drove to Charleston, W. Va. to help the victims of a toxic spill that contaminated the drinking water for more than 300,000 residents.

Last June, Mr. Poland, inspired by the generosity that he and the rest of the East Rockaway community received on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, performed a similar act of human kindness by raising much-needed money and supplies for the tornado victims of Moore, Okla. Of course, the irony here in relation to the film is that the flame that ignites the inspiration is Mr. Poland, who, unlike his teacher counterpart in the film, believes wholeheartedly in his cause.

Poland will probably be embarrassed by the attention that this letter may garner, and will certainly redirect any praise toward his students, as any humble hero would. Too bad, Don. In a time of negativity, scrutiny and misguided priorities, you are a refreshing throwback to a time when teachers truly put their kids first, and who were motivated by capturing the human spirit and inspiring others to accomplishments beyond what is overtly measurable. I hope this letter inspires others to be inspired by him.

Joe Spero
East Rockaway Jr./Sr. High School


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