The Dean's Dish

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 09 2011

Twist of Fate

It is with a heavy heart that I report some devastating news. In the swift stroke of a budget cut, I have been removed from my full-time (non-institute) position as Dean of Academics. Today, instead of reporting to the school I have called home for the last six years, I reported down town to the district headquarters to sit in the Saint Louis Public Schools version of a rubber room.

This evening I met and had long conversations with numerous teachers at my school. They too are sad and scared about what the year will look like.

Ultimately, I am sad for the kids. Who will be there to help two overworked teachers build a computer lab out of spare parts to ensure every senior has the opportunity to apply (and get accepted) to college? Who will analyze the results of the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) to appropriately place below-grade level readers into the right sections of our specialized remedial reading class?  Place not just those students who will sit for the End of Course exam in Communication Arts because of pressure to raise test scores, but EVERY student who is not where they should be with their reading in High School. Who will oversee the growth of the Advanced Placement program to ensure every interested student has a chance to engage with meaningful, rigorous content in an area they excel in?  Who will oversee the after-school tutoring program in our School Improvement Plan so teachers could be paid for their time through Title I funding?

Surely all of these tasks cannot fall on the backs of the continuously overworked staff? Tonight, one of my former science teachers committed to making sure the incoming freshman will be properly diagnosed at orientation so that they will be placed into either biology or physical science, an initiative that was hugely successful last year and resulted in a tripling of our End of Course exam score in Biology.  Social Studies and Chemistry teachers (one TFA alum, one 2010 CM) stepped up to help make sure the tutoring program I mentioned stays afloat.  I am hopeful other stories of commitment to doing what is right for the kids will continue to surface.

Who knows what my future will hold. I do know until I am placed, I will be serving in a volunteer capacity to support teachers that request it. If you’d like some virtual or in person coaching (if you are in the STL area), please reach out. I cannot imagine life over the next few weeks without helping to close the achievement gap in some form.

This is a set back for sure, but no one EVER said this work would be easy.  I stand resolutely committed to this mission and WILL NOT GIVE UP. And I implore you to do the same as similar challenges come your way.  For all the 2011 CMs that are not placed yet, I am now standing in that boat in uncertain waters with you, even as an alum. Do not fret, do not panic, just remember why we joined this mission and await patiently for your placement. It will come.

In the meantime, find a teacher who is placed and offer your support. They could probably use some help right now as there is never enough time before the start of the school year to get everything done for one’s classroom.

We are in this together and it is time for Team Close-The-Gap, whether we are on the field playing or currently sitting on the bench awaiting our turn, to rise and face the 2011-2012 school year as a united front.

Yours in education,

The (former) Dean

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    Ramblings from an Alum in School Administration

    St. Louis
    High School

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