The real Mrs. DeWit

Jada Holmes

We’ve all seen the meme of Mrs. DeWit that blew up on social media. At first glance, it must have been funny, but did anyone stop and think about how it made DeWit feel? Or how it could change her image? The meme was immature, and it didn’t paint a true picture of DeWit. Some students at West Ottawa try to argue that DeWit is not nice just because she does her job. Telling a student to take off a hat or saying a dress is too short is not  being mean – it is her job. Students that have negative things to say about DeWit are usually the students who don’t follow the dress code or school rules. Did anyone think that DeWit talks to students in harsh tones because she has to tell them to follow SIMPLE rules? DeWit is a genuinely nice person.

Even though there are negative stories told about DeWit, there are more accurate positive stories. West Ottawa alumni Monica Martinez said, “I remember Mrs. DeWit knowing I had to pay for school lunch. Sometimes I wouldn’t have money, so I would have to bring lunch from home. One day, she saw me and thought I didn’t have money for lunch. She asked me, ‘Do you need money for lunch? Because if so I can pay for it.’ I said, ‘No I have lunch from home, but thank you so much.’ Then, she said that I can go to her anytime I don’t have money for lunch and that she’d be glad to pay it for me. That was so thoughtful and nice of her.” Martinez said. If DeWit was as mean as students tried to make her seem, would she offer to pay for a student’s lunch?

  DeWit has clearly proven that she’s not the person some students make her out to be by buying lunch for students who aren’t able to pay, but that’s not all. Not only do some students recognize how much of a caring person DeWit is, but so do the staff members here at West Ottawa. Receptionist Pam Lee spoke openly and proudly about an experience she shared with DeWit over the past summer. “I worked with DeWit this past summer at a blueberry field. She was my supervisor actually. She made the experience fun. She always had a positive attitude towards everyone,” Lee said. “DeWit is NOTHING like students here try to make her seem, and it’s a shame that some students think of her in a negative way.” Spending a whole summer working with someone is clearly enough time to get to know them and their personality well. Another staff member that spoke out about DeWit in a positive light was Librarian Randi Melnyk. Even though Melnyk hasn’t had an experience with DeWit as personal as Lee has, Melnyk still sees with her own eyes how DeWit positively affects West Ottawa. “Did you know that DeWit has a stash of snacks that she keeps behind her desk for students? She gives out those snacks to any student who asks for them, not just for students who can’t get lunch. If she notices a person down, or hearing them talk about them being tired or hungry, she invites them to pick out any snack they want,” Melnyk said. Many staff members, as well as students, see and appreciate the things DeWit does to make West Ottawa a better place.

  How many students have taken the time to actually talk to DeWit? To see with their own eyes how nice of a person she really is? A lot of students just go along with what they’ve heard, without even talking to her once. Since I’ve never had an experience with DeWit as touching as alumni Martinez, or as personal as receptionist Lee,  I sat down to talk with DeWit personally. In the process, I found out some pretty amazing things that a lot of students don’t even know. “The main thing that I do outside of school is coach Special Olympics. I’ve been coaching for about 26 years. I coach basketball, volleyball, and the sport I like to coach the most is horse shoe.” DeWit has free time just like everybody else does, and what she chooses to do with it is amazing. She has spent the last 26 years of her life dedicated to helping disabled kids play sports. “My summer job is being a supervisor at Kamp Huis blueberry fields. I’ve been doing that for about 15 years. I love doing it and I love being around the people.” DeWit’s actions put any negative rumors and comments to shame. Those who actually stop and talk to her realize that she is a kind and caring person.

  DeWit hears a lot of the negative things said about her, but she keeps her head high. “I refuse to let anyone get a reaction out of me. People are watching to see if the negative comments will make me sad, but I know I’m not a bad person,” DeWit said. After all DeWit has done for students and staff members, from paying for lunches, to just being a kind friend, one could clearly see the rumors and negative things said about her don’t paint a true picture of her personality at all.