Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bennett's Goodbye

As I mentioned Monday, today was the last day for one of the new teachers in my department. I'm referring to her as Ms. Bennett on here.

I found out yesterday that more teachers had quit than I knew about this year. It's not well-publicized for obvious reasons. It's sad though because our lunch discussions have oriented around finding new jobs in DC, where else we could go, and when the best time to leave would be. I NEVER thought it would come to this. So if you're reading this blog wondering if DC is a place you want to be in the future (I was doing that all of last year), I want you to know you need to be prepared not only for the stress of the students, but much more importantly, the stress of the admin. It's really incredible how they can get to you.

Anyway, Ms. Bennett was new to the profession and thrown to the wolves. She sent out an e-mail thanking her colleagues and explaining her reasons for leaving. I thought her words were telling and wanted to share.

She says...

"I'm writing because Wednesday will be my last day, and I want to thank you for being a welcoming person and collegial member of this community.

The reasons I'm leaving are complicated and I'm figuring out how to communicate reflectively and productively about it all. But in short, my health is suffering from all the stress. As a person who values mental and physical health, that's where I had to draw the line. So I'm leaving my teacher certification program to find a better fit. Hopefully in the future though I'll be at a place in my life where I can teach again."

I hope she finds that place too. I think she could have been good.


  1. I've been reading your blog for a while and I really enjoy it. Love the honesty. Just wanted to say, that you should shop around when the transfer fair comes along. You sound like a great teacher, and DCPS needs you. Your school seems like a nightmare. There are others out there that aren't as bad. Not perfect. But, doable. Keep your head up :)

  2. I'm surprised to hear that you were researching DCPS last year and did NOT hear about the problems at your school. I can tell where you are by some simple references you've made and this school was in the Washington Post and on the teacher blogs last year with reports of firings and teacher turnover.

    DCPS admin is counting on the recession and youthful idealism to continue attracting (and destroying) people like you and Ms. Bennett.

    Really, if they treat teachers like this, how much could they care about children?

  3. I too can figure out where you are by information you have given (highly multicultural, different languages spoken, has a middle school part). I've known several teachers there and would have NEVER taken a job in your school, even though it's the kind of school (on paper) that I'm drawn to. Even before Rhee, the principal had the mindset of prefering brand new young non-teacher types as instructors. The administration would run them ragged for as long as they'd stay, have them quit or fire them over nothing and go and get some more just like them, fresh out of college, wanting to do their part to change the world. The principal is known to abhor career teachers and though a longtime DCPS employee, wasn't an ed major. I hope you don't quit but unless you have big bills (huge car note, a mortgage, college loans), you'll figure out that the abuse and disorganization isn't worth it.