On Leaving


I’m saying goodbye to my kids and it’s harder than I thought.

The decorations are down, the beanbags from the reading corner are smushed into my car… it’s time.

I thought I’d feel relieved or vindicated, but instead I just feel incredibly sad.

Four years ago the Director of ELL’s in my district asked me to move from my cute little elementary school to an infamously difficult high school. Really, she was telling me, but she made it seem like a request. “I promise you, this is where you need to be,” she said. “Trust me,” she said, and because of the profound respect that I have for her, I did.

I also went home and cried.

When I called my mom, a veteran teacher with 36 years under her belt, I was still crying. In an effort to calm me down, she told me this — “Even the biggest and baddest teenager is still a kid, and those kids need you too, maybe even more than the little ones .”

And so they did.

My mom and my mentor were right. I love going to work every day and I love every one of the biggest and baddest teenagers.

Leaving them hurts.

My school is on the NYS “failing list” and next year we are being taken over by a local university educational partner as per one of the options NYS demands districts to choose from when they have a habitually low performing school. I probably should use the word “partner” or “work with” when describing the relationship with the university, but in fact “take over” is much closer to the feeling behind what is happening.

Per this process, all staff members had to reapply for their jobs. I was one of the people that were chosen to return, but there were significant unfair practices in the hiring process that left me wary.

The day before acceptance letters I was ready to sign on. I’m a naturally skeptical person, but I also have a healthy dose of optimism, so I decided to see the project out for a year. At the end of the day I was called down to the new administrator’s office. At the time, I thought nothing of it, as I had been an integral part of the curriculum development team for the following year and thought it had something to do with that.

What followed left me speechless…

“By all accounts you are an exceptional teacher.”  “The hiring team has concern over your like for social media.“Your habits wouldn’t be tolerated in other districts I don’t want to take anyone’s 1st Amendment right away but I would think long and hard before pressing send in the future”.

I get angry just thinking about it. I slam the car trunk closed.

“I belong here!” I want to tell at anyone who will listen.

But the reality is that I don’t belong here anymore.

I belong somewhere that wants strong teachers who defend our profession.

I belong somewhere that isn’t worried about politics, but is worried about our students and our communities.

I belong somewhere that values the exceptional teacher for her outstanding track record.

I belong somewhere where the fight for what’s right for my students doesn’t warrant a veiled threat for my job.

I’ll move on to a new school and those kids will need me just as much as these ones did, maybe even more.

I’m leaving and it’s harder than I thought.


To see my official refusal letter (containing some background information) please click here…Refusal Letter


3 thoughts on “On Leaving

  1. So sorry that you have this bitter experience to deal with. I hope you can move on to a situation with a better fit. It is clear that kids need you.
    Mary Byrne


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