Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dear Dr. Goin

Dear Dr. Goin,

As the Superintendent of my school district, I felt that you should know the truth about one of your schools.  I speak for myself, but I also speak for those who may or may not have the courage to speak for themselves.   From personal experience, I know the consequences of speaking up.  I know what can happen if you question or challenge what is happening in your school.  I paid dearly for five years after speaking up.  But honestly, at this point, I feel as if I can't afford to not speak up...yet again.

I don't know of any teacher who enters the profession lightly.  We come to teaching because we are called.  We feel a great need to educate the youth, prepare them for a future that is filled with promise.  We work to prepare our students to become productive members of society.

Dr. Goin, we work diligently every day, trying everything in our tool box and the tool boxes of others to help our students succeed.  We spend sleepless nights trying to come up with answers to our daily problems.  We search daily for anything that can make it click for our students...anything that will help them understand.

After fourteen years in this district, I have found that our jobs have become increasingly difficult, less appreciated, and much more stressful.  Besides having to deal with more demands as far as curriculum, we have to deal with a greater range of knowledge.  In my classroom alone I will have students reading on a first grade level all the way to a ninth grade level.  Yet I am supposed to be able to reach each of these students on a level at which they can excel and be challenged.  Then, I am expected to do daily interventions to help those behind catch up and get on level with the rest of the group.

In addition, I am expected to increase the knowledge of my students while dealing with those whose lack of concern for their education leaves my hands tied on a daily basis.  Furthermore, the majority of these students cannot seem to understand or internalize the daily expectations and requirements of school.  They do not do their homework, they do not study for tests, they do not put forth any effort in the classroom, and they do not care about the consequences of their actions.

They realize that, really, there are no real consequences.  They might miss some recess.  Their parents might get called but that doesn't really seem to have an impact on most of them.  Most parents seem to shrug their shoulders and say, "Yeah, I don't know what to do.  He/she has been like this for years."

Your teachers are exhausted.  We are desperate for answers.  We are tired of not being able to teach because we are dealing with discipline issues.   It never occurred to me, that as a teacher, I would be dealing with the issues I deal with on a daily basis.   There is little time to teach because we are dealing with things such as fourth graders wiping their excrement on the bathroom walls - finger painting with it.  Or pulling down their pants in the hallway and just sitting there, with their bare bottoms on the chair.  We didn't know we'd have to deal with students throwing scissors in the classroom or students threatening to burn down the school.  Who knew that apathy among students would be such an issue?

Perhaps we entered the profession naively.  Perhaps we are like ostriches, burying our heads in the sand.  I don't think so.  I know that every teacher I work with at our school works diligently, every day, to teach our students AND deal with the onslaught of issues that we have to deal with every second of every day.

We leave at the end of the day exhausted.  Depleted.  Yet, we come back....each day, with a new attitude, hopeful for a better day.  I don't know of a teacher at my school who doesn't start each day fresh.  We work our tails off, trying to educate a group of young people who, for the most part, couldn't possibly care less about their education.

I can only speak for myself on this next point.  At the end of each day, I feel like a failure.  A complete and total failure.  Dr. Goin, I consider myself a smart woman.  I work very hard to do my job well.  I will try everything possible to educate my students, to make their learning interesting and fun, but worthwhile.  And yet, at the end of each day, I feel completely depleted.  Empty.  Defeated.  I feel as if I have accomplished nothing.  In talking to some of my colleagues, I know they feel the same.

The future of our students is at stake, Dr. Goin.  If something does not change, you will no longer be able to stand before us at Convocation and praise the accomplishments of the students of the Edmond Public School System.  Again, I can only speak for myself and my school.  I know that we are considered the "red-headed step child of the Edmond Public Schools" but I feel that each of our students has value and there has to be an answer.  My hope is that you will take an honest look at the real issues we, as a faculty, are facing at our school.  My hope is that the petty politics that have been a dark presence for many years will take a step back and instead, those people can take a heartfelt look at the needs of the students and what we can do for them.

The teachers at my school work very hard at what they do.  They care very deeply for the children who are in our care during the day.  As our leader, we look to you for answers....

We are waiting.


Kelli Thomas
Fourth Grade Teacher
Orvis Risner Elementary


Mom said...

Well said!

Amanda Ayers said...

I love this. Every bit of it. Most of the reasons that you stated are why I never even considered teaching as a profession. I completely agree with everything. Being a former student of Orvis Risner, and the daughter of a teacher there, it is just as frustrating for students who DO care, and DO want to learn to have to sit there and watch their teacher deal with fellow classmates throwing chairs across the room instead of having fun and learning at the same time. Love you! :)

Capps MS Library said...

Did you get a response?

Kelli Thomas said...

I did get a response. In my opinion it was a very canned, politically correct response. I was surprised that he responded so quickly, but was very disappointed in what he had to say.

Leslie said...

Ms Thomas as a parent of two children from Orvis I applaud you and almost every other teacher there. We have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to have seen so many of you work so hard for that one shining moment and it seems to be overlooked by so many from administration to student body. I appreciate every opportunity you and your peers have given my children. Yes as you well know it is difficult being a single parent. But we have done this and worked full time plus and also raised our children with a belief system that allows them to realize it has to start with them but it is reinforced with us. So once again I thank you...and I applaud you for voicing what really needs to be heard!

Anonymous said...

I wish every student and former student who has attended Orvis Risner over the last 10 years would write to Dr. Goin and share their experience. The environment and behaviors to which they were/are exposed are extreme. It is inexcusable.

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