I always said if I ever lost my job that it would be for encouraging, supporting, and expressing freedom of speech. However, what I once said in jest has actually manifested into the reality of my current situation.
I began teaching in 2007, and it was not always the light of my life. The constantly changing curriculum, the ever increasing testing schedule as well as the attitudes of the administration were enough to be disheartening, in the least, and heartbreaking at most. But I remained a teacher because it was the first time I felt I was really contributing something positive to this world. It was the first time I felt I was doing exactly what I was meant to do with my life.
I adore the teaching profession. I adore seeing students struck with realization and have their minds flutter open to new ideas and thoughts they did not have before. I adore giving them the tools and skills to become productive members of humanity: to be free thinkers, to understand the power of their voice and how it can be used for positive influence in the world. I wanted to teach students that they had power, that their words had power, and when used right, could change the world.
Over the past eight years I have had close to two thousand students come through my doors. I cannot admit to remembering every name or face or paper turned in, but there are many who have left their mark on me, for better or worse, and many whom I will never forget and always cherish.
The modern day teacher has a plethora of hardships from difficult students to the new common core and standardized testing to the increasingly oversized classrooms to the long hours and lack of gratitude and respect. But those are hardships I accepted when I chose this career.
It is the environment created by this administration at V. Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho which has shuffled me out. The district has a policy of secrecy and lack of communication with faculty that has resulted in an environment of intimidation and threat.
Their allegations have caused my character to be called into question which may affect my reputation in a variety of unforeseen ways. It is impossible to do the job I once did in the environment imposed by this administration.
Due to my belief in creative expression, original thought, and critical thinking, I have been targeted and subjected to unfair treatment. Despite my love for the job and my students, which has been demonstrated time and again during my tenure, I do not feel I have a choice other than resignation.
My largest regret in this decision is the relationships I have formed with a variety of students who have yet to graduate. During my time at the school my room was a safe haven for all students from misfits to valedictorians. I will be missing the final semester for some students I have worked with for over three years and I will lose the budding relationships that were developing with my most recent class.
I know not all students will be disappointed I am leaving. After all, it was the specific acts one of them that put me in this position (No, really, she confessed to my niece of all people that she was “going to get her teacher fired”). But for those students whom I watched using their voice for the first time in the last couple of months, for those who were given a safe place to speak, to express themselves, to learn, to those students I feel I have failed and I will not be able to easily forgive myself for that.
I don’t want to stop teaching. I take away more fond memories than hostile ones. I leave knowing regardless of where my career takes me, a part of me will always be a teacher. Thank you to the students and fellow faculty for the last eight years. I hope you will forgive my absence and understand my reasoning.