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Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Teacher Has Left the Building....

It is now officially summer, and I am returning to the blogosphere!

Many, many changes afoot for the MeyPfan family. The primary one being this: I will not be returning to University High School in the fall. Now that the school year is over, I am officially unemployed.

It's a long story, and I have many complicated emotions surrounding this whole situation. But the short version is this: One Friday afternoon in April, my head of school asked me to meet with him. He told me that I'm an excellent teacher and have great rapport with the students, but in spite of those things, he would not be renewing my contract for the coming year. I was absolutely blindsided. When I asked why, he said it was because I displayed "poor judgment" during the hiring process (in March, I was on the committee to hire a new English teacher because our school is growing and the department is expanding). Basically, this boils down to the fact that I did not vote for the candidate that he wanted, and it seems that I also asked some questions that he did not like. Silly me--I thought he meant it when he said that he was just there to facilitate and that we, the faculty, were to ask the questions and make the decision for the best candidate. And because of that, I no longer have a job.

As I said, I was blindsided by this. I had long had the feeling that he did not like me very much. In our school of approximately 20 staff members, he had only taken the time to have maybe two conversations with me over the course of the year, which were mainly him talking and me listening. My formal evaluations were done by the assistant head of school, who gave me great reviews. Much like at colleges, the students fill out course evaluations at semester, and all of mine came back with great comments, with kids saying that they learned so much in my class, that I was their favorite teacher, that I had actually gotten them to like literature, etc. When I brought these things up to my head of school, though, he dismissed them, saying that the problem was not with me as a teacher. When I asked why there hadn't been any kind of warning or review process to let me know that there was a problem so I could work on it, he said it was "nothing I could have fixed." So, essentially, the problem was me as a person, not me as a teacher.

I'm sure you can all imagine how absolutely terrible this made me feel about myself and life in general. And even though I knew my contract wasn't being renewed, I still had to finish out this school year, roughly six week of sheer misery. It was so hard to see the kids every day, to hear them compliment me, and to know that it wouldn't make any difference. It was hard to summon up the motivation to grade papers and make lesson plans, when I knew that it wouldn't matter at all in the long run. It didn't matter if I was the best teacher in the world or let my kids have a study hall every day; I was still out of a job. But I'm still me, and I still believe that the kids should not suffer for the decisions of adults, so I kept on trucking and finished out the year as strong as I was able.

This past week was especially hard, saying goodbye to all the kids that I have come to love. I told them that I wasn't coming back, but I didn't tell them why. This was a decision that I really wrestled with. Part of me wanted them to get mad like I was, but I also didn't want to create drama for the school, especially because I knew it wouldn't do any good in the long run. So in the end, I just told them that I was leaving without giving them a reason, except that it didn't have anything to do with them. They then all asked where I would be teaching instead, and I had to tell them that I wouldn't be. So now most of them are under the impression that I left because I wanted to, because I didn't want to teach, because of some other personal reason--none of which is true. I had kids cry and tell me that I was their favorite teacher, and parents emailed me to ask me to reconsider my "decision" to leave. As you might imagine, it was incredibly hard not to say anything bitter during all of this.

So as excited as I am for it to be summer and to be away from the incredibly stressful past two months, I'm still feeling very bittersweet and rather at a loss. I will miss the kids a great deal, but I'm so glad to have the tension over with. I'm thrilled to be able to spend time with my own girls without all that grading and lesson planning hanging over my head. But now we're back to being a one-income family and, of course, the reason I went back to work in the first place was because we needed the money. So we're going to be very financially strapped in the coming months, as, I know, are plenty of people in this economy.

It will also mean some adjustments to the future of our family. We certainly cannot afford the expensive fertility treatments anymore, which leaves us wondering and worrying if we will ever be able to have another child. As those of you close to me know, having a big family has always been the desire of my heart, and it's very hard to face the reality that this might not be able to happen for us. My wonderful doctor has agreed to continue some of my prescriptions without nearly so many regular appointments. This is good, in that if I do manage to become pregnant, I will have a reduced risk of miscarriage. However, this risk is still far higher than when I was being monitored by the doctor.

All of these big changes yield smaller daily changes, and the next few months will certainly be an adjustment for us. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers as we navigate the path the Lord has in store for us!

Regular updates to come....

10 comments:

rachel said...

I'm so sorry to hear that. It kills me every time I hear of someone who could be an excellent teacher in the public schools and leaves because of bad administration and bureaucracy. I know of people who retired early, taught for a year or two and decided to go to grad school and do something else instead (my brother-in-law), got an ed degree and never taught (like me and my sister), or changed their major away from education because of the problems evident with the system (like my brother). The low pay and underappreciation drive a lot of talented, intellegent people toward other careers. I just can't believe there are so many bad administrators and teachers out there, and then people like you who are actually there and doing it get pushed away. Grrr....

Ragfield said...

It's good to hear from you Amy. The news about your job is unfortunate, but I have a feeling you'll pull through just fine. I loved (student) teaching, I just couldn't stand all the administrative bullshit that came along with being a teacher... which is why I didn't go into teaching after college. It's a shame, really. The U.S. education system really needs to be doing everything possible to retain people like you and me.

-Rob

SlyGly said...

Wow. That is a horrible and suspicious story. I'm so sorry. I don't know what I would do in that situation.
(Similar to the above comments, my brother never used his elementary ed degree because of a loathing of teachers unions.)

Andrea said...

I'm sorry about the job (hugs!). What a jerk...

As for the fertility treatments, I'm glad to hear your doctor will continue your medicines. I'll be praying for another healthy pregnancy for you!

We'd love to see you guys again soon!

Andrea said...

I'm sorry about the job (hugs!). What a jerk...

As for the fertility treatments, I'm glad to hear your doctor will continue your medicines. I'll be praying for another healthy pregnancy for you!

We'd love to see you guys again soon!

Carrie said...

Amy,I am so sorry to hear about the unfortunate situation surrounding your job. For what it's worth, I'm glad that you stuck your neck out and stood up for what you believed in and weren't just a "drone". Really, would you have wanted to continue working for such a jerk? God has a plan for you... even though you can't see it yet, he knows what is next. I am in the same boat in a lot of ways... I'm just trusting him to lead me. Best of luck!

Maria said...

Amy,

My thoughts and prayers are with you! The combative litigator in me wants to do everything in my power to fight for you given how badly that principal behaved, but I can recognize that you took the wiser approach. I agree with all the commentors here that God has a plan for you that will be revealed in time.

Love,
Maria

Anonymous said...

dear P-- there are no WORDS that I can ADD, just my old shoulder to lean on .--- you've been thrown into one of the sometimes "TOO often" , HUGE POT HOLES of LIFE!!!!for that, my heart aches for you.. HOWEVER THE" P" I WATCHED GROW into a VERY SENSIBLE YOUNG WOMAN, will POWER thru all this 'mishmash', and COME OUT AHEAD!!!!! I'm seeing you ,' someday', WITH A THRIVING PRESCHOOL under your guidance, molding delightful ,brilliant little people!!!!!!! Your nurturing , caring ways, just point in that direction!!!!. Until THEN, love your beautiful little girls, your hubby and enjoy the days ahead,,,,, remember this, WORRY LOOKS AROUND--SORRY LOOKS BACK-- and FAITH LOOKS UP!!!!!!! prayers , hugs and luv, logan's grama

Jenn said...

Amy,

Sorry that you had to deal with all of that. I had something similiar. A student told her admin daddy that I made a comment that I didn't (and even if I had, it wasn't anything that was negative--he took the opportunity of the principal being gone to flex his muscles) and threatened me with dismissal if I put a toe out of line or mentioned the incident to any student. My fellow teachers/mentor who were with me at the meeting were apalled but powerless. While my contract was renewed, because I behaved myself, I chose to not return to the school and risk continued harassment and suspicion.

Lift up your head and remember that this happened for a reason and that there is something better for you and your family.

Jenn

Kathy said...

I like what Jenn said!

I think God has a bigger plan for your family, and while it's difficult, trust that this is all happening for a reason! Sometimes we don't understand that reason, but that's where your strong faith will help!

This has gotten us through the past 6 months :-)