The Importance of Community, part 2

Posted: 2011/04/10 in Classroom Teacher, Education, High School, Students

When things are going great, it can’t stay that way forever. I feel like there must be a physics equation explaining that.

So my once-failing high school got a dynamic principal, Mrs. C, who turned things around and made teachers feel valued and supported. A few years later Mrs. C was promoted to a higher post in the district and our assistant principal, Ms. V, followed as the new principal. Everyone agreed we had gotten lucky twice — Ms. V was a terrific administrator to work with.

But nothing lasts forever.

Mrs. C began documenting complaints to get rid of weak teachers. (In spite of what politicians say, it’s not an impossibility.) I never heard any dissension from the staff about any of these departures. There was uniform agreement that the school was better off without certain faculty members.

If anything, Ms. V was friendlier than her predecessor, easier to approach, always quick with a smile. But in recent years there appeared to be a vendetta against Mr. X — the principal just didn’t like the job he was doing. I don’t know the details. but I’ll acknowledge that Mr. X has a rough personal style.

This year Mr. X was dismissed from his job at our school. He brought a lawsuit. I understand that the California teachers’ union will generally take less than a dozen cases per year, rare instances where they’re willing to pay for legal fees through prolonged court proceedings. So they don’t give this legal help to just anyone. But Mr. X’s case is being supported by lawyers from the teachers’ union. Somebody must feel he has a good case.

Outside of the courtroom there are rumblings at school. Some people liked the way Mr. X was doing his job. Some people may not have liked him, but feel he was doing a good job. Some people are glad he’s gone. One longtime teacher remarked that the situation made her “lose all respect for Ms. V.”

Meanwhile, for the last two years, we’ve had a new assistant principal. She’s young, highly educated and her manner comes across as arrogant. Whether or not she believes she is better and smarter than the teachers at our school, that’s the impression that exists.

Many of us feel the positive spirit at the school has been dissipating. Certainly there are cracks in our perfect world.

The Latest: Ms. V has announced her retirement. She has explained that the current court case over Mr. X has nothing to do with her decision. Who am I to question that? The good news is that the callow assistant principal has taken a job in another city, so she’ll also be leaving.

So we look to the future with a big unknown — a new principal. Where will things stand one year from now? Will we feel positive about our school? Will we be eager to put in extra effort knowing that we’ll be supported and appreciated? We hope for the best.

  1. Good luck! A good administrative staff means so much to the climate in a school. Your point about Mrs. C. getting rid of bad teachers was a great one–I say this all the time to people who start harping about unions. If a principal does her job she can get rid of bad teachers. The problem is that most principals aren’t willing to do it. Thanks for the post.

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