To whom it may concern:
First off, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to teach fourth and fifth grade Mathematics this year at Nameless Charter School in Arlington. Being my first year teaching, I knew that there was going to be many obstacles to either hurdle, find a way around or just barrel through, but when the biggest obstacle in front of me was my principal … I was stuck.
When Captain Jack Ass hired me, I was happy. My first teaching job sounded awesome. He sold me on how wonderful the campus was, how great the students’ behavior was, and how no matter what, he’d be there for his teachers. I’ll admit it, I drank the Kool-Aid and accepted the position under his car salesman like speech. I found it odd that during our new teacher orientation, we had 18 total new teachers and aides coming in for training, especially since our total staff was 22-24 people. That big of a turn over should have set off red flags but again, I drank the Kool-Aid.
Then little thing after little thing began to happen. No paper to make copies, more broken chairs than usable chairs, not enough desks, no books, taking inventory of used consumable books and lack of technology. By the end of the first six weeks I was well aware of the “lemon” that I was sold but continued to do my best to make lemonade. This is when I was pulled aside for the first time by Captain Jack Ass for taking away recess from my class for their poor behavior in and outside the classroom. Captain Jack Ass chose to handle this situation by lecturing me about this for 30 minutes, not in his office but out in the front area of the school while parents picked up their kids. This was handled very unprofessionally and with little to no indiscretion.
Shortly after I this, I changed my recess removal based on our policies but then got called in because of a student that withdrew from the campus from my homeroom. Captain Jack Ass sat me down, asked about this student then told me that the “I was recorded saying …” by the parent of the withdrawn student. According to Captain Jack Ass, I was recorded saying that I was assigned to the class because I was a former ISS substitute and was put there to handle the kids. When I told him that I did not say any of the “quoted” material and asked if I could hear the “evidence”, Captain Jack Ass changed the subject, told me that the student claimed I was the reason that they were changing schools and gave me a verbal warning. Oddly enough, the parent exit interview revealed nothing of the sort. Simply, they just moved and there was a school right next to their new apartment.
After this, I had a walk-through of my classroom and again was asked to come in for a meeting. This time the meeting took a more personal form. Captain Jack Ass commented on my classroom teaching and the fact that I did a lot of work from behind my desk (location of our ELMOS and computer for “class technology”). He also mentioned how “I needed to be more active in my classroom and be able to move around like a teacher half my size.” Now I’m a big guy, can’t hide that but when students would yell out, “Bye Captain Jack Ass” then quickly correct themselves because I was walking out, that shows size comparison. I never thought that I would be attacked on my size as a teacher but there is always a first for everything.
Just before the Thanksgiving break, I had received some emails from a very concerned parent. We scheduled multiple conferences with the mother then out of nowhere, she scheduled a meeting with Captain Jack Ass and myself. This is when I realized that he really didn’t have his teachers’ backs. The parent proceeded to make claims that we were showing favoritism and that I was a racist bully towards her son. This was the only time that he ever looked up during the meeting. At this time Captain Jack Ass had me turn over all copies of my lesson plans and made sure that the parent was happy but he did not have my back. It took the entire year and many more conferences with this parent for her to understand that her child just wasn’t turning in his work.
I am aware that “kids will be kids” but I do remember being called into Captain Jack Ass’s office and being told that I was not investigating my classroom issues well enough. A student of mine had been slapped in the back coming back from specials and since I didn’t see it but the student was complaining about pain, I sent him down to the nurse. At this point the other students who claimed to have seen the entire event wanted to go talk to Captain Jack Ass. I asked them to write out their stories and I would turn them in but some of the students still had a chance to speak to Captain Jack Ass on their own time. They told stories of the “slap” that did not mirror the original so Captain Jack Ass got after me, stating that I hadn’t investigated the situation enough before sending the students down to him. Forgive me if I’m wrong but I thought that I was supposed to be working with my class instead of working on an episode of COPS. Captain Jack Ass then told me that he would visit my class the very next morning. During this visit, he berated my entire class and called them “LIARS”, the entire class. He also told them that he would call each and every one of them down to the office to hear their story the next morning (which never happened). Penalizing the entire class (calling them all LIARS) for something only a few students did…something that he told me NOT to do with the recess situation seemed highly hypocritical. Due to his “kind words” to my homeroom, I had to spend most of my SOAR time that day calming down students that were afraid of coming back to school the next day for fear of being paddled because they saw something in the hallway and reported it.
After the second set of Benchmarks, I was called in for yet another meeting but this time our Superintendent Clueless sat in with us. Superintendent Clueless complimented me on my teaching but wondered if I was doing enough for the students and asked me to find some new formative assessments. I researched and found a set of fifty new assessments and began using two or three new ones in class. A week later Captain Jack Ass called me back into his office and was angry that I was not using 10 new formative assessments, then claimed that Superintendent Clueless had “told him to fire me if I hadn’t showed change in a week”. I’m not really sure if Superintendent Clueless ever told him that because:
- I rarely see or speak to Superintendent Clueless,
- Captain Jack Ass has lied to me before.
Captain Jack Ass even felt comfortable enough to text me at 9 pm on a Saturday evening to assign me a formative assessment planning assignment. According to his assignment, I was to go out, buy, watch and write a report about the movie Stand and Deliver. I felt that this assignment could have been postponed due to STAAR preparation and everything else going on but he wanted it turned in by that next Tuesday.
After one of Superintendent Clueless’ visits, Superintendent Clueless had told Captain Jack Ass something about how our student’s dress code was not being followed properly, so after our morning assembly Captain Jack Ass told me and our Science teacher that if we see any boy with their shirt untucked or without a belt to send them directly to the office. I don’t know why the press happened so late in the year but it did. We sent down student after student to the office and the next morning I asked him if we were still doing the same procedure. He claimed that he never said it at all. Again, I have come to a point of not being able to trust this man.
At this point, Captain Jack Ass placed me on a Growth Plan, which I was told that is usually reserved for second year teachers but because of my students’ scores on the benchmarks, I was now on one. I was set to create my lesson plans and turn them into him every Friday, set up meetings with him about my lesson plans, set up observations of the other Math teachers in the school, and write a report on how I was supposed to use what I saw in their classrooms to help my students. According to Captain Jack Ass, I did not follow my part of the agreement because I did not set up a meeting with him (this is also the same man that canceled my mid-year meeting and rescheduled my summative meeting over and over again).
Shortly before the first STAAR test, Captain Jack Ass called me in for another meeting. At this time he informed me that he wanted a 75% passing rate from all his 5th grade students. He then followed this request with a very motivational, “if this does not happen, you will be looking for another job”. I knew that this was not going to be easy but I did my best and did not make the required percentage. I had some students go from 8% to 33% and others from 40% to 55% but Captain Jack Ass’s response to that was, “they had nowhere else to go but up”. He requested a meeting with our reading teacher, myself, the AP and the SPED teacher to discuss our plans for the second attempt of STAAR. He did not show up for the meeting and the rest of us set up a schedule that would best benefit the kids having to retake the test. Four days later Captain Jack Ass requested our Reading teacher and myself in his office and completely changes what we had already set up in the other meeting. This is where he picked out a few students that he said “wouldn’t pass but would have to show improvement”. What angered me at this point was that he singled out one of our SPED kids who worked so hard that she had outscored a few of the other students. Before the second STAAR administration, I became sick and was diagnosed with DVT (blood clot in right leg) and missed only one day because I knew that the kids needed the help and a substitute wouldn’t cut it. So I came in and worked with them and did my best to prepare them for it.
During my summative meeting Captain Jack Ass told me that he could not offer me a position for next year (which I wouldn’t have accepted anyway) but then said that Superintendent Clueless would make the final call on that. When Captain Jack Ass asked me if there was anything that the school as a whole could improve on, I told him that Nameless Charter School needed more resources. He then told me that our school was filled with resources and that I just didn’t know how to use them. I asked him what he meant by that and he proceeded to list off names of the teachers that he asked me to monitor during my Growth Plan. When I told him that each one of those teachers had asked me for some type of help with their classes but couldn’t help me in my class. I even mentioned that the sixth and seventh grade students were coming to my after school tutoring because during our merry-go-round of teachers (four teachers, including Captain Jack Ass), I was their only help.
I still wasn’t sure what was happening until the last day of school when I was handed a key chain and a framed paper that thanked me for my work. It made me feel good that my fellow teachers cheered for me because they saw how I was treated, and it humored me to see Captain Jack Ass struggle to say anything kind when they handed me the gift. Attitude reflects leadership, so when 15-20 parents filed into the auditorium on the seventeenth of May to watch their kid’s award ceremony and their principal is nowhere to be seen, that spoke volumes.
All in all, I learned a lot this year. I learned that I cannot trust my principal, I will always have to deal with my weight issues, I will never work with Captain Jack Ass ever again and no matter how much work you put into something, someone will never be happy with your work. So once again, thank you for the opportunity and the experience. I hope that the future students of Nameless Charter School are able to follow the policies and procedures that will be placed in front of them to make this a better school because you had a really good group of teachers that worked here, most of whom have either left already or will be leaving as soon as the HR departments in the other ISDs are ready to hire.