Last Friday I finished my “temporary” assignment at Myra S. Barnes Intermediate School 24 in Staten Island, NY. I have been there since January 20, 2015 as I was originally placed there to cover an Earth Science teacher’s maternity leave for a few weeks. The teacher wound up taking the rest of the school year off to take care of her newborn. Imagine that…we are the only developed country not to offer proper maternity leave. Here in the NYC DOE, where the budget is $27 BILLION, an employee mother has to use up all her sick days and then get docked just to get a few weeks off after birth. Children First? I don’t think so. See our campaign platform on maternity/paternity leave (http://www.uftsolidarity.org/uft-elections-2016-issues-maternity-leave/
In any case, I had the pleasure of seeing what a school should be. One where educators come in the morning and leave in the afternoon with smiles and not tears. One where there is a strong union and great collaboration with the administration. After experiencing the horrors and botched leadership of Principal Linda Hill at IS 49 and the countless, and I mean countless, stories of wrongdoing at other schools, it was a “breath of fresh air” to see a school like IS 24 can exist. It gives me hope. I believe I told the administration that same “breath of fresh air” line several times.
I was actually offered a permanent position there last June and I turned it down. Some of you might call me crazy, but I had to. I had many reasons and if I was selfish and thinking about just me, I would have jumped on it. Like I said, it is a great school where you don’t have to walk with your back against the wall, but my goal is to go back into the fire. Back to the school community I tried to change and improve almost 4 years ago. My community at IS 49 in Stapleton.
Other reasons for not taking the job included that by taking a Science position there I would be bumping someone else out. I didn’t want to do that. Another is that, like I said, there is a great staff and administration there and I believe my “services” are needed elsewhere. Imagine, the DOE directors and attorneys, in their infinite wisdom, thought it would be a good idea not to contain me at one school, but rather have me roam around many schools. The UFT, in their infinite disregard for member representation, let this happen. Now I go from school to school teaching and learning with students and staff.
The chancellor should send a group to take notes and replicate what happens at IS 24 in other schools. Currently I am at PS 9, a PreK to 2nd grade school. Today was my first day and I helped the physical education teachers in the gymnasium and fixed about 5 or 6 tech issues around the building. My license is 5-9 and 7-12 Science, so I have to see if I should be staying.
I walked around that building helping with many tech issues and it was great to see and hear teaching and learning take place in every classroom. Kudos to all of you who make magic happen every day in that school.