Popular Lone Grove speech & debate teacher reassigned

By: Dara Downs Email
By: Dara Downs Email

LONE GROVE, OK - While harsh budget cuts have affected schools across Oklahoma this year Lone Grove Public Schools' decision to cut a popular speech and debate coach has outraged the community. The Lone Grove Troupe speech and debate team has made a name for itself over the past seven years, bringing home seven straight state titles. But many say the program wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for its coach, Brian Gunter.

Brian Gunter says the Lone grove speech and debate program has been an important part of his life since he was a high school student, and for the last ten years he's served as the team's coach, leading the program to numerous state titles and trips to nationals.

"Everything I do is for those kids, and it feels like I have had somebody stab me in the heart," Gunter says.

"Life changes and there are things that we don't understand sometimes, but this is like having a child ripped away from you."

Parent Robin Rabe is among the hundreds in Lone Grove who are against the school system's decision.

" We may have a speech department, but Mr. Gunter is not replaceable," she says.

Three members of the Lone Grove Troupe will be traveling to Missouri to compete in the national competition this month without their coach. While our calls to administrators were not returned Gunter says they told him his contract would not be renewed due to budgetary concerns. But student Jacob Reynolds says he and other students don't understand how administrators could put a price on their future.

"The program itself is at risk now, and it's something that as a senior having a much of my college is dependent on this. It's like 'why is the administrator going to give us something like this only to take it away when its most important?" Reynolds says.

A Facebook page called "Save the Lone Grove Speech Team" appeared quickly after the news spread. The page has gained over 600 members in just two days. Gunter says while the situation is an unfortunate one, he is overwhelmed with the outpouring of support he's seen from the community.

"It's been nice and wonderful and very affirming to me. And if I was doubting the affect I had on anyone, I don't guess I would now." >

As of right now. Gunter was told he will be teaching at the middle school next year, but parents and students say they are trying to get on the agenda for the school board meeting on June 14th to discuss the issue with the administration.

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  • by Anonymous on Jun 18, 2010 at 02:49 PM
    Football still sucks and so do self centered greedy superindendents.
  • by Bob Location: Piedmont on Jun 11, 2010 at 11:40 AM
    This is nothing more than a new superintendent getting surrounded by his people. Somewhere he has not been as impressed with Mr. Gunter as the students are. This is a man who is used to getting his way, so Good Luck Lone Grove community.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 9, 2010 at 05:52 AM
    "While harsh budget cuts have affected schools across Oklahoma this year Lone Grove Public Schools' decision to cut a popular speech and debate coach has outraged the community." Important part of the story considering that there is an ad in the Ardmorite newspaper for this position.....
  • by Anonymous on Jun 9, 2010 at 05:47 AM
    Kxii......go check this story out! There's gotta be more! It's reported in the job selection of the Ardmorite for a JOB OPENING...guess which one? Yep....Speech and Debate!
  • by Bill Location: Southmayd on Jun 6, 2010 at 09:33 AM
    We could use a guy like this in Texas,especially in Southmayd.Come on down Brian Gunter we need you,anywhere in Texas, and you would be appreciated.
  • by Dan Location: Texoma on Jun 5, 2010 at 08:01 AM
    There must be more to this story than we know. Luckily, there is a process in place for the public to voice their concern and (hopefully) find out more.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 4, 2010 at 10:24 PM
    Um...hello! What's up with this losing a teacher that makes a difference with a good track record of winnings....keep the speech and debate teacher....they need to look at the coaches....why havent they been addressed? Why cant LG have an outstanding athlete program with mulitple records of season wins.....perhaps the coaching methods? ya think...maybe the same ole plays arent working? Go Horns!
  • by Marrried with children Location: Madill on Jun 4, 2010 at 05:51 PM
    Mr. Gunter, apparently this school does not deserve a teacher as good as you are. With your credentials you could move on to a larger school and help even more students than you have here. With your talent you have a responsibility to your future students to go where you are appreciated. Too many administrations miss the real jewels in their programs, go where you can do a good job. God bless you for making a difference in children's lives. Signed, a teacher
  • by brad Location: ardmore on Jun 4, 2010 at 01:32 PM
    Maybe I am missing something but how do they save money by moving him to another position when they are keeping the program active? If the program is still going to be in place and he is still going to be on board as a teacher, where is the savings to the school? How is that a budget improvement? I'm not a teacher and maybe the answer is obvious but I don't get it. Does the new position pay less? How are they going to pay the new speech and debate teacher? I hope this isn't about personalities or status, things are bad enough in our school systems right now with real concerns to be playing "politics." I hope the school and the teacher are able to make the best of this.
  • by Former speech student Location: Oklahoma City on Jun 4, 2010 at 09:53 AM
    Mr. Gunter was my speech coach several years ago. I entered the program in middle school and stayed an active member until my senior year. I have a state champion jacket because of Gunter's push for my success. I have numerous medals, 3 state rings, and more than that, I had someone to confide in and trust in. Mr. Gunter is more than a teacher. He was a support system for a lot of students before and after my class graduated. Several of my fellow teammates have gone to college on scholarships that they would not have received had it not been for Mr. Gunter's hardwork and the speech team's recognition. If the school board is reassigning Mr. Gunter because of budget issues, then there is nothing that can be done about it. It is an extreme travesty, but an understandable reason. However, if there is an underlying personal issue that has caused the removal of an amazing teacher and coach, then whoever caused it should be ashamed of their selfishness and self-centeredness.
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