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Everything Buckley did was to help poor children

I would like to say a few words about Debbie Buckley, who was the subject of The News’ lead story on Jan. 13.

First of all, it is clear that she overstepped her bounds, as the story stated. But what wasn’t said was that everything she did was to help the poor children of Buffalo. None of the money she spent was for her personal benefit.

Buckley was able, through hard work and dedication, to lift herself out of poverty and succeed first as a nurse, then as an outstanding teacher and finally as a member of the Buffalo Public Schools administration.

When she worked as a math teacher at Waterfront School, she felt broken-hearted that so many students with good potential were failing and no one seemed to care. She began tutoring them after school at area churches, then opened the Mastery Center and recruited volunteers to help. My husband, a retired engineer, and I, a retired science teacher, were two of those volunteers. We worked with the kids, and were able to help them gain math and reading skills, pass Regents exams after previous failures and increase self-confidence. We never received any remuneration. In fact, when Buckley needed rent money to keep the center going, we gladly wrote some checks.

She and her mother, the Rev. Dalphne Coleman, are both deeply spiritual women. They prayed fervently that a way would be found for them to continue the good work we had begun. I am sure that when she was given the position as a grant manager, she saw it as an answer to her prayers.

No training was given to her. There was no oversight by the administration or the Board of Education. Buckley saw a lot of money being wasted. She knew what worked and was determined to follow through.

Buckley certainly made mistakes, but her heart was always with the children. I’m sure it still is.

Janet Zehr

North Tonawanda