Cheers — to Ashland attorney Jodee Scott, who left a successful law career to join Teach for America, taking on a Mississippi classroom of fourth- through sixth-graders in one of the poorest schools in the nation.

Cheers — to Ashland attorney Jodee Scott, who left a successful law career to join Teach for America, taking on a Mississippi classroom of fourth- through sixth-graders in one of the poorest schools in the nation.

Scott was happy with her law firm and had made partner, but found the work less fulfilling than she had hoped, and realized she wanted to work with children. She had coached the girl's volleyball team at Ashland High School, and took that experience with her to Mississippi, where she started a volleyball team at the local high school, which had three boys' sports programs and only one for girls.

Congratulations to Scott for following her passion and commitment in a challenging environment far from home.

Jeers — to the nation's major airlines for taking advantage of the shutdown of a federal agency to squeeze extra money out of passengers. The Federal Aviation Administration was forced to shut down last week when Congress failed to reauthorize its authority. The shutdown stems from a political dispute between Democrats and Republicans over spending and organized labor unrelated to the debt ceiling crisis.

For the record, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, which serves the Medford airport, did not raise fares.

When the FAA shut down, so did the airlines' legal authority to collect federal taxes on airline tickets. Did the airlines give travelers a break and lower ticket prices accordingly? No. They raised fares to cover the taxes they weren't collecting, pocketing the difference.

Cheers — to the Randall Theatre Company, a new community venture in a converted warehouse at West Third and Front streets. Cheers also to Camelot Theater and Oregon Stage Works, two established community theaters that donated a concession counter and movie-theater seats, respectively. That support, along with a strong showing from local residents who emailed and wrote letters to the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, helped prompt MURA to award a $30,000 grant to the fledgling company.

Jeers — for the second week in a row — to Congress, and especially the tea party wing of the House Republican caucus, who seem bent on bringing down the entire economy to make a point about federal spending. The battle is over raising the government's debt ceiling, which would have no effect whatsoever on federal spending. The debt ceiling merely allows the government to continue borrowing money to pay off spending that already happened.

It's time for everyone in Congress to move away from absolutist positions and strike a bargain no one will like in order to prevent financial catastrophe that could ripple around the globe.

Cheers — to new and improved city parks thanks to grants secured by the city of Medford. The money will help create a new Oregon Hills Park at McAndrews Road and Chablis Trail in east Medford and build a new playground at Lone Pine Park, a project that neighborhood children and parents will help design.