I guess some would call me a victim of Joplin Schools, but I don’t choose to look at it like that. Oh, I had trials and troubles, but a victim? No, not me. I stood up for what I believed to be right, I challenged the ‘powers-that-be’ and I lost. I wouldn’t even say I’m a loser. I had 20 years of great students, met some fabulous people, and had some awesome experiences.
Most of the principals I worked under earned my respect. Men and women like Jim Kimbrough, Larry Shelley, Shirley Lynch, and Ron Mitchell. I often was amazed that I was actually paid to teach! I have so many wonderful memories and so much to be thankful for that I can’t even begin to think that I lost. To think that would make all those years a waste. And they were anything but that.
I actually had the audacity to tell Dr. Huff that he wasn’t my boss and neither was the board of education. My students and their parents were my boss. I’m not sure that it was appreciated, but I believed it so I said it. I still believe it and if I were asked, I’d say it again. The students of Joplin and their parents were the driving force behind me. They were what kept me going and motivated me.
I can’t say I loved my job the last four years. New administration and changes in education made teaching almost impossible. It is really hard to work for someone that you have no respect for and to work with people that are in education for one thing- to make a name for themselves. During those last four years, I let it all get me down. By it, I mean all the praise and promotion of undeserving and unqualified folk who liked to get in good with the higher-ups, the constant changes in policies and procedures, the piling up of expectations, and the mass exodus of good teachers. By the end of my last year, I was exhausted. Worn out from ‘fighting the good fight’.
The culture of fear, that has been established, needs to go. Teachers should be treated as the professionals they are. Change is in the air. I can feel it and my Joplin friends deserve it.
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