Friday, March 22, 2013

The Letter I Proudly Display

Jeannie, a quiet little wheel chair girl was turning 18 and she wanted a party more than anything in the world.  But, poor Jeannie's social life ended when she boarded the bus home every day.  Her parents kept their daughter in the apartment, away from other people.  Jeannie's only friends were the ones she had at school.  These included her classmates, the para who took care of her and her teachers.

I knew it was against school policy when I agreed to let Jeannie have her party in class, the last period of the day before spring break, but decided to do it anyway.  I figured the kids could sing happy birthday, eat some cake and candy and keep working. (It was a class of 12 and the kids were really good.)  Jeannie was so excited, she told everyone in the school about it.  Mrs. B brought her class from the third floor to join in.

Ten minutes into the period, the AP of the department made an appearance.  The class was on the second floor.  The AP's office was on the third floor and that was the first time all semester I had seen him more than ten feet from his desk.  He came in, scowled at me, wished Jeannie a happy birthday and left.  Sure enough, there was a letter waiting for me when I returned from vacation.

I don't resent the letter.  I knew what I did was wrong.  But, he did not write one to the other teacher in the room, a teacher who was sitting doing nothing while her students also did nothing.  I didn't say a word because it was not my place to get her in trouble.  And, he knew about the party and had the power and the right to stop it before it even got started.   Instead, he chose to play gotcha and he got me.  I am sure he wanted Jeannie to be happy. That, and getting me made his week.

I'm not sorry for what I did and I would do it again.  Jeannie graduated 15 years ago and I hear that she occasionally goes to some training program but mostly sits in her chair, the television her only companion.  I only hope she thinks back to that 18th birthday and smiles at all her friends celebrating her big day.


burntoutteacher said...

You did not, as you write, do wrong. You did right. The system is wrong if contributing to the emotional well-being of our students is wrong. We don't just teach skills, we are role models of caring, warmth, support, joy. In this crazy one-size-fits-all, anyone-can-run-a-school system, what is good and honorable and supportive is now suspect. And what we all as educators know is right is considered evil.

Anonymous said...

this is another example of an administrator being 'a sheithead'.....(now you know which word I am referring to when I use this word now. I have to substitute every now and then between this word and turd).

Anonymous said...

And this is what it is ALL about!

zulma said...

Thank you for this wonderful, heartwarming story.

To me and others, you did right for that young girl.

I'm pretty sure she remembers fondly how much you cared for her.