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The Night My Teaching Career Ended: a Road Trip, a Sick Kid, and an Angry Principal

Over the last couple of weeks, I have shared the story of how my teaching career ended.  I shared how it started at the job I loved and the job that I took that ended it all.  Today, I’m going to share how it really finally officially ended.

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driving at night

When I got home from school, I did some discussing with Eric before realizing that I was really considering leaving that teaching position.  Between only a couple of hours at home at night before going to sleep (what with the drive and all the time the principal was making me put in), the uncertainty that still surrounded Jack’s heart defect, and then being told that Noah would be getting no services from the local schools, I was defeated.

I couldn’t imagine living life in this way any longer.  Still, I also couldn’t imagine doing something as radical as resigning.

In a preemptive type of move, I emailed the principal to ask what was the procedure, should I decided that I needed to resign.  I didn’t really think I would do it, but just wanted to know what I needed to do if it came down to that.

In what seemed like just minutes, my phone rang and it was the principal.

“Oh, you got my email?” I sheepishly asked.

“What email?” she responded.

Her tone hadn’t been pleased when she called, and I had assumed that was what it was.  Instead, it had clearly been something else.  Whether it was that I took off like I was escaping Alcatraz as soon as I was contractually allowed to leave for the day or something else, I don’t know.

I told her that I didn’t think I was doing it, but I had just wanted to know what the procedure was if I needed to resign.

“Are you resigning?” she asked me sharply.  Until that moment, I figured it was just not something I could do.  But, instead, I asked her to wait just a minute.

I turned to Eric who was sitting there and said, “She wants to know if I’m resigning, Eric.”

Without hesitation he said, “Yes.”

I added, “But, if I resign, you have to know that I may never get another teaching job.  This may be something I can never explain away.”

Again, he said, “Yes.”

And so, I got back on the phone and said, “Yes, I am.”  I apologized and I told her I definitely could stay on for a few weeks or however long they needed to find someone.

“I need you to drive here tonight and clean out your things.”

I reminded her that it would take me at least 45 minutes to get there, and she said she would be waiting.

I could have driven alone, but instead, Eric came with me along with two kids who were feeling less than stellar.  Poor kids.

But, I was especially happy for them to all be along when I got to the school and had to clear out all of my things as the principal just stood and watched us.  When I asked if we could have a trash bag because one of the kids had been sick in the car, she told us no and seemed annoyed that we would ask.  (A janitor was eventually by and we were able to get one to put the clothes into.)

I left anything there that I thought someone could use for the room next and only took my personal things.  I just wanted to be out of that situation (especially as we were being silently stared at) as quickly as possible.

As we drove home, the mood in the car was so different.  Here we were, quite possibly driving away from my teaching career, with a bag of gross clothes in tow, and I was more relieved than I had been in weeks.  We laughed at things as we drove, and it was definitely the first time we had laughed in all that time.  We still had many things worrying us, but we also felt such a feeling of hope and that was a much needed feeling that we had been sorely missing.

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Epilogue (Just to tie up those loose ends): I, in fact, didn’t teach again, though I did return to graduate school as well as take a job on the weekends that I enjoyed in another field.  I later worked for five years as an in home therapist for kids with developmental delays and disabilities.  I heard from someone I later knew in a local school corporation that several teachers transferred from the school I was at because of actions by that principal.

Noah did get services through the school as they found that he had Autism.  Years later, after hearing that the social worker frequently told parents that their kids wouldn’t get services (without having met the kids yet), I told someone in authority (as well as her) that it wasn’t right and that it had been a huge factor for my resignation.  Jack continues to thrive, in spite of his heart defect.  Eric is still, as always, my biggest supporter.

photo by Jeff Ruane



Comments

  1. Wow. The word I’m thinking to describe the principal can’t be typed here. Good for you! And what a wonderfully supportive husband you have.

    • He really is a pretty darn amazing guy. He’s so patient and supportive of me, and just has been the whole time I’ve known him. It amazes me often because I know that I don’t always extend him the same.

  2. I’ve been reading your story the past few weeks, and I just want to say, good for you!

    It’s hard when you know the consequences of your actions can be far reaching, but you also know when something isn’t right. That situation was not right, and you were brave enough to change it. In the end, when jobs are that bad usually others in the field also know about the employer and your actions will not be seen negatively, but as a person willing to stand up for themselves and do what is right.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Christy. What you said about others knowing is how I actually found out about other teachers transferring and that the principal eventually was no longer there. Someone that I knew in the special ed department of our local school systems because she had to sit in on meetings about my kids was urging me that I should consider going back to teaching. I told her that I had no plan to ever do it, and had had a horrible experience that I just couldn’t get over. She asked if it had been local and I told her the town I was at and the school. She gasped and then had to pull me out of the room when we were in between meetings to tell me everything she knew about the situation. (She worked closer to where I live, obviously, but lived closer to the school that I was at.) She told me that it was absolutely not my fault and that there were many bad stories that had come out of the situations at the school.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I eagerly awaited the installments of this story! I was a public school educator for 6.5 years and will likely go back to the public classroom again this fall. I know that a good (or bad) administrator can make all the difference in wanting to go to work.

    • I totally agree, Britney! I went back to work at my older school after this particular debacle to help them out in a pinch when they needed an aide in a kindergarten classroom for a couple of months. The principal that I had worked for there had left and they had an interim principal that was someone who had done some things at the school prior to that. The whole mood of the school and staff was completely different. Everyone had loved the prior principal and things were so positive at the school. But, this interim principal had really made for a difficult working environment for everyone and it showed in all of the teachers’ attitudes.

  4. That lady sounds like she was a real witch. I’m so glad you were able to resign and that your husband was all for it!

    • I think that she generally meant well leading up to that night. My guess (or hope, anyway) is that she let her emotions get the better of her that last night that I went up there. It was really something else. I kept thinking that she was staring at us in a way like she thought we were going to steal things. It was so surreal.

      I actually forgot a couple of personal things because we were in such a hurry to get out of there. The other kindergarten teacher sent me a package about a week after I left with my things I left in it.

  5. Wow. I, too, have been eagerly awaiting each installment to find out how the story ended. Did you ever find out what precipitated the principal’s phone call since she apparently hadn’t seen you email?

    I, too, was a public school teacher – for nine years, actually, before my kids were born and I came home to raise and teach them. In my first year, a principal who (unbeknownst to me) was on a “plan of assistance” for poor performance (and was later fired) tried to intimidate me because he thought an action I took to show care to students would reflect badly on him. The new principal was nicer, but incompetent in scheduling areas and, since I was the chair of my department, I spent three years battling him on it. I finally came home one day and told my husband, “Either I leave this school or I leave teaching.” As it so happened, a job at the nearby high school came open that year and I took it, even though it meant a pay cut by losing my department chair rider. But I didn’t care; I had to get out of what had become a toxic environment for me. I stayed four years at the high school, until my older daughter was born, in what was generally a pretty good experience. But I never regretted my decision to resign after she was born. And now my eyes have been opened about the realities of institutional schooling so I’m sure I can never go back. I can’t support a system I don’t believe in.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, Tina. I really appreciate it! It can be so hard to walk away from a career, or even worse – to realize that you never want to go back to it after you walk away. Thanks for following along with the series!

  6. Christina says:

    I adore you husband for being so sure. You truly love a job with kids involved and I’m happy that even though you let go of your teaching job, you seems to love your new career. It’s important that you’re happy now and this time, no creepy principal!

  7. Wow.
    So glad you have such a great supportive husband! Good for you for doing what was right for you and your family, even though it seemed kinda scary in the first place!

  8. Michelle K. says:

    Today I stumbled upon your story by chance…Thank God everyday for your husband. I too was in a similar predicament 5 years ago and my husband without any hesitation told me to quit. Best advice he’s ever given me! I was spiralling into a deep depression. Another co-worker a year later did go on a stress leave and she has never gone back to teaching…tried but just couldn’t do it. Lucky for me I’m busy working for our Parish running the Catechism and Youth Programs in our small town. The whole family is better off this way…mine and of course yours! Best to you in your new adventures. God will lead you where you are needed which was not at that school!

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